Monday 7 September 2015

I agree with Dave (well, sort of...)

The fact that Cameron has received so much positive coverage for proposing such a small change in response to the refugee crisis, and that the other parties all seem to be talking about broadly similar numbers, says a lot about the prevailing climate of opinion in the UK towards the troubles of others.  It’s hard to disagree with Cameron’s statement that the UK should take its ‘fair share’ of refugees, but the word ‘fair’ is not one which is amenable to a simple and straightforward definition.  800,000 to Germany and some 10,000 – 15,000 for the UK doesn’t chime with any definition of the word ‘fair’ that I can devise.
It’s also worth noting that, despite the positive coverage being given to the Prime Minister, the gesture by the UK government, directed as it is at those who have not yet started migrating from refugee camps in the Middle East rather than at those already in transit, does absolutely nothing to assist our fellow Europeans in handling the immediate problems that they are facing.  (I suppose, though, one might argue that it speaks to one of those great British values that he’s always banging on about – after all, we all hate queue jumpers, don’t we?  But it’s not much of an excuse.)
Something else that Cameron said with which I agree is that the problem really needs to be solved in the countries from which the refugees are migrating.  I agree with the principle; it’s just that we have a different view about what that actually means.  I think it means helping those countries at war to achieve peace, and those countries whose ‘only’ problem is poverty and hunger by sharing the world’s resources more fairly.  He seems to think that it means dropping more bombs.
And there’s yet a third thing on which I agree with Cameron.  One of the better decisions that his government has taken was to protect the foreign aid budget, and to promise to give 0.7% of GNI as aid.  As with my other points of agreement, the problem is not with the principle, but with the practice.  The proposal to channel part of the foreign aid budget to local authorities in the UK to help with the cost of resettling refugees doesn’t fit with any reasonable person’s definition of overseas aid.  That’s not to say that the councils don’t need financial assistance – merely that it cannot honestly be called foreign aid.
The crises which have led so many people to risk so much to seek out a better future are not ones for which there are any simple or quick solutions.  They require a long term commitment of resources and effort.  But the UK government does not only not have a coherent and viable response to the long term problem – it isn’t even willing to do very much to respond to the immediate needs of those affected.  And it’s being aided and abetted by opposition parties whose response is little better – high on critical rhetoric, but short on willingness to talk about the significantly higher numbers of people who need safe havens now.


Cneifiwr said...

One of the suggestions apparently being considered in Downing Street is a 21st century equivalent of the Kindertransport. This initiative, which was organised by charities before WWII, is often held up as an example of British compassion and generosity, but in reality the UK government at the time gave a less than whole-hearted welcome. Numbers were limited, and a requirement was that the children had to be financially self-supporting. Some soon found themselves interned as enemy aliens when their reached their 16th birthday.

Saddest of all, the operation was only open to children, and most had to leave their parents behind. Many never saw their mothers and fathers again, of course.

According to the BBC, Cameron is now planning something similar. There will be lots of PR opportunities for Dave as planeloads of kiddies arrive, leaving their parents behind for nobody knows how long.

And for Daily Mail readers, there is surely a much greater likelihood of these children being financially self-supporting if their parents are allowed in to find jobs, start businesses, etc.

Spirit of BME said...

I am in much agreement with you and Little “Spliff” Cameron, apart from foreign aid budget, which we know is a front for many, a dodgy deal.
The wave of emotion that is pumped out by the press and the BBC ( sadly missing in the Rwanda crisis , as the backdrop did not sell newspapers) is raising many more questions, as evidence now points that 90% could well be economic migrants ; if you are fleeing death why leave your family and children there to die? As most are young men, why leave with no documentation when a Syrian passport would give you a fast track asylum?
Again large numbers of forged Syrian passports manufactured in Macedonia has been seized. The rubbished left behind on this sad trail is now being analysed by police and they are finding identity papers discarded from all over the Middle East and beyond.
None of this will be reported in UK mainstream media as it might undermine the social cohesion rule and also get people to question the standard of reporting.
Saudi, Iran and the Gulf States have taken zilch families (so much for the “Islamic Ummah”)on grounds of security – might be a message there for Europe.