Monday, 22 November 2021

Following the headlines


Apparently, Boris Johnson is so exasperated with the continued flow of migrants across the channel from France that addressing the issue has been elevated to his top priority, eclipsing the Covid pandemic. Many might think that the arrival of a few thousand refugees is actually a fairly minor problem for a rich country, particularly when the government is actively pursuing policies which are leading to 1,000 premature deaths every week. The reaction, however, is driven by headlines and the pursuit of votes, not by logic and certainly not by compassion.

His ministers and backbenchers are coming up with ever more drastic ‘solutions’ to the problem, including exporting all new arrivals to Albania for processing. It seems no-one actually bothered to seek permission from the Albanians before leaking the proposal, but then they probably just assumed that, as a small country, Albania should know its place and do as it is told. Others have floated the idea of sending refugees to the Falklands for processing, presumably in the belief that being sent to an internment camp on a cold small island with inadequate facilities will act as a deterrent. There is, of course, a question as to whether any of this is allowed under international law, but post-Brexit, international law no longer applies to the UK, or so the government seem to believe.

The Home Secretary is blaming the EU (of course – we all know that everything is the fault of the EU); in this case for not having internal borders between countries, and allowing people within the EU to travel freely across the continent. How dare they! I can’t help thinking that this is a woman who, if she thought she could get away with it, would be demanding controls on movement at county level across the UK in order to stop migrants arriving in Kent from getting to London, let alone further afield.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party – this ‘progressive’ party which wants all non-Tories to unite behind it – can only manage to criticise the government for not doing more to stop migrants from arriving. That’s right – faced with a vicious government doing everything it can to prevent refugees from fleeing persecution, war, and hunger, and risking their lives and those of their children in the process, the ‘opposition’ can only demand even tougher action. Shameful is an inadequate word to describe Labour’s response. Labour, like the Tories, are being driven by headline stories in the mass media which the supporters of both consume on a daily basis. Neither is interested in what’s right or wrong; neither has any concern for the human tragedies involved. They both believe that being seen to be tough on refugees will gain support, or at least bolster their support, amongst their target groups of electors. The most depressing part of all is that they may well be right.

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