Thursday 3 September 2015

In whose interests?

As we’ve seen recently, people-smuggling is not only a criminal act, it can also have tragic consequences when the ‘entrepreneurs’ involved, who have already taken whatever cash they can get from desperate people, decide to abandon their victims to die.  It must be one of the very few crimes, however, where the instinctive reaction of so many politicians is to crack down on the victims.
Events of recent weeks have also exposed the huge difference in perceptions as to what the EU is about between, basically, the UK Government and everyone else.  For one of the countries taking the greatest strain in handling the consequences of migration, Germany, the idea of free movement of people within Europe is close to being an article of faith; for the UK Government, free movement is a privilege for the few, to be allowed only by exception.
I don’t know from where the UK Government got the idea that free movement was only ever intended to apply to people who had already found a job in the country to which people were moving.  Perhaps they simply think that if they repeat that mantra often enough we’ll all believe.  But it isn’t in line with the sort of freedom for citizens to which most of the rest of Europe signed up.  It’s clear that the UK’s idea of Europe is one where freedom of movement applies only to capital, not to people. 
Interestingly, that preoccupation with the interests of capital rather than citizens was precisely one of the fears of those of us who opposed membership in the 1975 referendum, but it turns out that we had less to fear from the other members of the EU than from the UK Government.

1 comment:

Gav said...

Curious how far the Conservatives have moved from Tebbit's onyerbikeism,[he may not have said those very words but the sentiment at the time was clear], which you might have thought would have welcomed free movement. Now they're trying to out-UKIP UKIP and at the same time wash their hands of the human tragedy .

Maybe Cameron can surprise us, but somehow I doubt he's got it in him to do so.