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No Place for Children campaign

The New Statesman <em>No Place for Children</em> campaign calls on the government to end the detenti

Every year, around 2,000 children pass through the UK’s immigration detention centres. They are there because their parents have applied for asylum in the UK. Detention is physically and emotionally damaging for children, as the detainees' testimonies so painfully demonstrate. In many cases, children have lived for most of their lives in Britain, and consider this country their home. Many subsequently receive refugee status, but children who have been detained remain deeply traumatised by their experiences.

We are also calling for key improvements to the system while the detention of children continues:

  • Better independent oversight of the system
  • Accurate records to be kept of all children in the immigration detention system: who are they, where are they, how old are they and how long have they been held?
  • Welfare assessments to be made of all children on entry into detention
  • Reasons for detention and reviews to be given to parents in their own languages

Over the coming weeks the New Statesman will report on children in immigration detention: the policies, the human stories, and possible alternative approaches. We hope that readers will get involved by signing a petition, launched later in September, and by supporting the campaign’s backers Women for Refugee Women, The Children's Society, Bail for Immigration Detainees (Bid) and 11 Million.

Together with our readers, the New Statesman hopes to send the government a clear message: the UK’s policy of incarcerating innocent minors must stop. Immigration detention centres are no place for children.

Alice O'Keeffe is an award-winning journalist and former arts editor of the New Statesman. She now works as a freelance writer and looks after two young children. You can find her on Twitter as @AliceOKeeffe.

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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.