So in his column in last week’s WSCT, Nick Herbert MP, a Conservative politician and no doubt loyal to his leader’s limited, lacking common humanity and almost xenophobic policies on refugees and migrants, is in Australia writing to his constituents apparently in support of the draconian stance taken by the Abbot Government against refugees trying to seek asylum in Australia as the model for the UK to adopt.
Perhaps he will agree to suggest all such migrants are ‘stored’ offshore as in Australia’s case, with a suitable bribe to an appropriate economically challenged nation to achieve his aim?
My son and Australian fiancée are living in Melbourne and they and their friends and family and all fair minded people there are appalled by the narrow minded, introspective, ‘populist’ policies adopted by the Abbot Government against refugees and migrants.
Europe has a refugee and migrant crisis of epic proportions on its doorstep. One that predates the tragic, awful and unnecessary death of three year old Aylan Al-Kurdi, his brother and mother on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to reach Greece. Deaths and associated crisis in part precipitated by the UK and its allies’ military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and the resulting destabilising of those regimes allowing the rise of Isis and their reign of terror and precipitating mass migration by Syrians and others fleeing for their lives and from persecution and worse.
Common humanity and the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to refugees for centuries shows what we have done as a truly globally focused and outward looking nation. We can afford to and should do more.
I am proud that the UK is one of the highest spenders as a proportion of GDP on International aid, a position the Liberal Democrats managed to secure from Government whilst in the Coalition. That will help in the longer term as Mr Herbert suggests, but we must address the short term crisis.
To those who say we cannot cope with our existing populations needs, I say I agree in part, but at least we who live here have life, hope and a future; a situation so far denied to those fleeing as refugees. We can address our problems of funding housing, health, social welfare and schooling by more enlightened fiscal and economic policy, not those adopted by this slim majority Tory Government. Chase down companies registered offshore for tax purposes, to make sure they pay their fair share of corporation tax for using UK facilities, infrastructure , services and education. There are £ billions at stake.
A bit of vision and planning could see us able to take 10s if not 100s of thousands of refugees dispersed nationally. Locally we could allocate some set aside fields and have Ford aerodrome and the old Shoreham cement works site where caravans, modern pre-fabs, converted containers (as already used in Brighton) and other innovative homes provided / built to house the refugees we let in to this area.
The UK is the 5th richest country in the world by GDP, about $900,000 million behind Germany the 4th richest but slightly ahead of France at 6th, and Italy 8th. Greece bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis ranks 45th (source World Bank 2014). If Germany can take a million, the UK can and should do more if we are ever again to be able to hold our head up be respected and listened to on the world stage and recognised for our proud history of welcoming the disadvantaged and as a tolerant civilised society.
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