Friday 11 March 2022

Shame, not pride, is the only response


Whenever things get to the point where I begin to think that the current government could not go any lower, there is one minister who is always willing to step forward to prove me wrong. Just about the only thing that the UK government could have done to top its abysmal and disgraceful performance to date in handling the Ukrainian refugee crisis was to turn on European neighbours and criticise them for being too generous. So, with a certain inevitability, that is exactly what the ever-dependable Priti Patel has done, with her expression of concern to the Irish government that Ireland’s decision to allow refugees in without visas, in line with the humanitarian policy of all EU states, threatens the UK’s vicious and inhumane policy by creating a potential ‘back door’ for desperate people.

I suppose one could argue that it demonstrates that she at least understands the basic principle underlying the whole war – the right of large countries to expect that smaller neighbours will know their place, do as they’re told, and never implement any policy which might annoy their larger and more powerful neighbour. It’s just that nobody seems to have told her that she’s supposed to at least pretend to be on the side of the victims of the bullying, not behave like the bully.

Her Kafkaesque decision to set up a visa processing centre in Lille, which will neither accept appointments nor walk-ins and whose location is being kept secret somehow reminds me of the scene from the old radio programme, The Men from the Ministry, where a request from another department to borrow the ‘Permission Refused’ stamp was greeted with the response “Stamp it Permission Refused and tell them we haven’t got one”. Except that was a parody of the way government works, with refusal always the first option, and was funny. There is nothing in the least bit amusing about Patel’s refusal (backed by the PM and the other pathetic apologies for ministers) to help desperate and vulnerable people at their time of greatest need.

And all the while, the government bang on about how proud we should be of the UK’s leading role in the world, freed of the constraints of EU membership, and claim that it is demonstrating the unity of the realm. Pride – real, genuine pride in a leading humanitarian role – might actually help to achieve that if they could give us any reason for feeling such pride. The increasing feeling of shame which so many are instead feeling will do quite the opposite. The Irish can and should feel proud of their efforts to date; not for the first time, their outward-looking, European perspective puts the narrow insularity of the Anglo-British nationalists to shame.


dafis said...

Priti Patel - the best example of why some people feel that her kind should be returned to the subcontinent. There again the subcontinent would probably tell us - you made her you keep her. If by any chance she came via East Africa then there may be some crazy dictator in that part of the continent who might employ her but finding one sufficiently crazy to coexist with her would take some doing. Her capacity for cynical abuse and exploitation knows no boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Who are Anglo British? Or is it just a nasty, racist term for people having different, often unpleasant views?

If the war in Ukraine is about anything it is about the right to live in a society free from the shackles of communism and the halfway house of out and out socialism.

Remember, a majority in the UK voted not so long ago to bring about an end to the policy of uncontrolled immigration. I suspect the government has to take note of this and the associated security concerns when dealing with the seemingly never ending flow of refugees/asylum seekers/economic migrants from all around the world into this country over the last few years.

It may not be right or pretty or nice, but it is democracy in action and we would do well to forget the hysteria and see it for what it is


John Dixon said...


I'll accept that Anglo-British is shorthand. A more precise definition would be those who conflate English and British nationality, mostly believe deep down that there is only one nation in these islands, and believe that nation to be in some way exceptional, special and superior. So much so that they can claim to be not-nationalists-at-all because their nation is uniquely not nationalist, a belief which is the first and most important defining characteristic of their nationalism. Whether those views are unpleasant is a matter of opinion, but it's not a racist term (which is not at all the same thing as saying that those who hold such beliefs are not racist - many of them are). I find the usual consequences of the idea that any nation can believe itself to be special or superior rather unpleasant, but that's just my opinion.

"the war in Ukraine is about ... the right to live in a society free from the shackles of communism and the halfway house of out and out socialism" Really? Could you perhaps explain to us which side in the conflict is either socialist or communist, because they both look like capitalist economies to me. One is rather more of a kleptocracy than the other (which has been attempting to reform a bit at least), but I don't see either of them espousing a philosophy remotely related to socialism or communism. It looks to me more like a conflict where one side wants to impose its own will on the other in a way more reminiscent of the 'Great Game' of the imperial past.

"a majority in the UK voted not so long ago to bring about an end to the policy of uncontrolled immigration" No, they did not. Firstly, there was no policy of uncontrolled immigration to put an end to, and secondly the specific question of immigration was not on the ballot paper. It may be that an unquantifiable proportion of those who voted for Brexit did so in the utterly mistaken belief that they were voting for an end to immigration, but not all supporters of Brexit took that view. You cannot, with any degree of intellectual honesty, extrapolate a majority of those who voted for one thing (Brexit) to be a majority of the population for an entirely different proposition (an end to immigration).