Britain’s Leftist Open Borders Zealots Have Turned Migrants And Refugees Into Political Pawns

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The migrant crisis is too great an opportunity to ignore for many virtue-signalling members of Generation Me, Me, Me

Brendan O’Neill hits the nail on the head with his latest criticism of sanctimonious celebrity campaigners for open borders, in a piece entitled “You’re so vain, you think the refugee crisis is about you”.

O’Neill writes:

Narcissism runs through the discussion. The question these refugees raise is ‘What kind of people do we want to be?’, says one columnist. The keyword here: ‘we’. On the supposedly pro-refugee side, the game of self-reflection has been intense. Witness Allen’s TV-camera tears when she was chatting to an Afghan boy in Calais, after which the entire discussion became about her. Her image was everywhere. There was a thinkpiece war, some saying ‘Allen was right’, others saying ‘Allen was wrong’. It became about the role of celebrities in public life and whether emotionalism has a part to play in political decision-making, with the migrants reduced to mere objects of our self-reflection, and our tears, not the subjects of their own story.

Then there was Stella Creasy, the self-promoting Labour MP, interviewed in the London Evening Standard, promising to stand up for these child migrants regardless of how much flak she will get (shorter version: ‘I am brave’). The piece was accompanied by a massive picture of Creasy: no image of refugees, just her, because this is about her, not them. Then the story became all about Lineker, after he tweeted his concern for the refugees and was blasted by the Sun for doing so. What is the role of BBC people if not to be morally switched-on, a thousand op-ed scribblers asked, because this is about the Beeb, and the media, and us, not them. Jeremy Corbyn got stuck into the discussion of ‘what kind of people we want to be’ by praising Allen and Lineker for showing ‘Britain at its best’. It was a surreal illustration of the evacuation of substance and seriousness from public debate and their replacement by The Spectacle, largely of emotion: a political leader hailing media representations of sorrow for migrants over anything solid or concrete in relation to the actual lives of the actual migrants.

The media discussion has provided a striking insight into what being pro-migration largely means today: that you – the keyword being ‘you’ – are compassionate. Migrants are latched on to, not because of a genuine commitment to the idea of free movement (witness Creasy saying of course some migrants will have to be kept out), but rather as a means of self-distinction. To be pro-migrant is to be superior to those badly informed Others, who have a name now: Brexiteers. This is why so much of the child-refugee discussion has become bound up with Brexit-bashing. ‘What do we see each morning, post-Brexit, when we look in the mirror?’, asked a Guardian columnist of the child-refugee situation (keyword: ‘mirror’). He says we see a nation ‘hollowed out in terms of compassion’, but of course he means that is what ordinary, ugly, Brexit-voting Brits see in the mirror, not the migrant-loving Brits at the Guardian.

My emphasis in bold.

To be fair, Brendan also accuses many of the most strident anti-migrant voices of the same sin; I do not want to misrepresent his piece. But then Brendan O’Neill and Spiked (bless them) are enthusiastic advocates for completely open borders and the free movement of people everywhere – “it doesn’t matter if they’re kids, teens or adults: the length of their journey and the strength of their desire to live and work on Britain are surely sufficient to grant them access” – an idea rather ahead of its time (not to mention politically toxic so long as such disparities of wealth, culture and values persist).

But Brendan is absolutely right to note that the people of the Calais Jungle – genuine refugees and economic migrants alike – have largely been become political pawns in the ongoing British immigration debate. What matters to many people is how they are seen to talk about the migrant crisis rather than there being found an effective solution – as we saw only this week when Labour MP Chi Onwurah got upset about a poster mocking leftist credulity about migrants posing as refugees, claiming that it was “offensive” when it in no way targeted genuine child refugees.

O’Neill also writes perceptively of the “moral thrill” experienced by many of the “let them all in” camp, and indeed you see it coursing through numerous posts on social media, the intent of many seems far more to do with aggrandising the poster than trying to reach a reasonable compromise with those who do not want to let every last person into Britain unquestioningly.

But to his criticism of the political right:

The narcissism of the other side is striking, too. It is hard to believe that these right-leaning observers really believe that 70 young people coming to Britain will have any kind of terrible impact. And yet they demand that the arrivals’ teeth be checked to see how old they are, and furiously tweet photos of the young men with adolescent moustaches and mobile phones as if to say: ‘See! They’re grown-up! They’re dangerous!’ This is a performance of toughness, of security, to match the performance of compassion of the other side. Just as the pro-refugee side sidelines serious debate about freedom of movement and the role of their beloved EU and its Fortress Europe in creating this crisis, so the anti-refugee side dodges difficult questions of what is really causing a sense of insecurity in 21st-century Europe in favour of turning a handful of young refugees into symbols of existential disarray. Indicators, symbols, mirrors – that’s all these people are, to both sides.

I don’t see it that way at all. While some people do demand that Britain stop accepting any further refugees, a majority would be happy, I believe, if the UK government was simply a little less credulous and a bit more discerning about the people we do accept – both as to their age and the validity of their status as refugees rather than economic migrants.

The pictures do not lie – many of those already brought to Britain from the dismantled Calais Jungle camp are clearly adults. Does that automatically mean that they are not deserving of help? No, and I don’t think that anybody serious has claimed otherwise. But if this country is accepting fully grown men who claim to be children, what is to say that other levels of scrutiny which are supposedly taking place – like checking that entrants are not violent jihadists – are any more reliable? If the UK government is squeamish about insisting that child refugee applicants submit to dental tests to verify their age, have they also been reticent to ask whether the people they are ferrying from Calais to Croydon intend to wage jihad from inside their adoptive country? The incompetence we have already seen rightly makes us wonder about the incompetence which is being kept hidden from us.

These are perfectly legitimate questions to ask, and they do not constitute virtue signalling in the same way that the Left have seized on the migrant crisis to portray themselves as saints and the rest of us as sinners. Particularly in the context of the recent bloody history of ISIS using the migration crisis as a cover to slip Islamist extremists into Western countries, a basic level of scrutiny should be one of the first duties of government – yet there is now legitimate cause to fear that this scrutiny is not being applied for fear of causing “offence”, either to the migrants themselves or (more likely) to their powerful left-wing cheerleaders.

And here’s the thing.

Far right-wing rhetoric may be much more unpleasant to the ear than trendy lefty dronings about a borderless world of people holding hands beneath a rainbow. But leftist rhetoric and actions when it comes to the migrant crisis have killed far more people than anything said or done by those who are sceptical of accepting every last economic migrant who fancies a new life in Britain.

It was the leftist cheerleaders of Angela Merkel’s “open doors” policy who encouraged thousands more people to make the treacherous journey across Europe, some in genuine fear of imminent harm but many simply seeking a better life.

It was the leftist campaigners who accused sceptics of heartlessness for wanting to start turning boats back as a disincentive to make perilous the sea voyage who tacitly encouraged many more people to do so, and drown in the process.

And it was the false hope given by leftist agitators that Britain would ultimately accept a trumped-up moral obligation to accept thousands of people already enjoying the protection of France, hardly the most dangerous country in the world, which encouraged even more people to flock to the Jungle and remain there.

And yet we are supposed to believe that open borders zealots and sceptics are equally at fault when it comes to virtue signalling about the migrant crisis? Absolutely not. Exploiting migrants and refugees to burnish their own compassion credentials is the Left’s bread and butter, and it is an emotional comfort blanket whose cost can be measured in human lives.

So let’s not pretend that there is any moral equivalency in terms of blame for the suffering of migrants holed up in Calais. There is none. This is a crisis manufactured by the Left and encouraged by the Left for the benefit of the Left. They own it.

And all of Lily Allen’s tears will not wash away their culpability.

 

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Adults Migrants Posing As Children Make A Mockery Of British Asylum, But Pointing This Out “Offends” The Left

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Leftists do not scream “that’s offensive!” out of overwhelming, saintly concern for the supposed “victims” of free speech. They do so as part of an authoritarian ploy to shut down unwanted discussion and mockery of their own sacred values

One does not need to see the dental records of some of the people currently being brought to the UK from the soon-to-be-demolished Jungle refugee camp in Calais to know that a number of those migrants (for who can say whether most are genuine refugees?) are not, as they claim to be, under the age of eighteen.

In fact, one barely needed a functioning brain to correctly predict that a number of enterprising military-age males might seek to game the system, claiming to be both children and refugees when one or both assertions are entirely false (current figures show that two thirds of “child” refugees challenged by Home Office officials turned out to be adults).

As Peter Hitchens notes:

I confess I was rather looking forward to the arrival of the alleged ‘children’ from the Calais migrant camp.

Leftists have an oily habit of stretching the definition of this emotional word. It helps them make the exaggerated claims of suffering, by which they so often achieve their political aims.

I fully expected to see square-jawed, muscled, hairy young men of military age, and I have greatly enjoyed the embarrassment of the soppy idiots who spread and believed the propaganda about them.

Of course it’s possible that they are all really 12, and have been terribly hardened by war and suffering. But if that is so, how come they are in a crime-ridden camp in France, which exists purely to besiege our borders and launch illegal attempts to cross them?

Nobody ever asks how the inhabitants of this camp got there, because the answer in almost all cases is that they were trafficked there by well-paid crooks. What responsible parent would put an actual child in the hands of such people, notorious worldwide for their ruthlessness?

And why are we supposed to be so tear-stained that these people are stuck in France? France, the last time I looked, was one of the most civilised countries in the world. It is not a war zone. Nobody starves there. There are schools. Many fashionable British liberals own houses there. The quality of the coffee has gone down a bit in recent years, but that is no reason to stow away in a lorry or climb a 15ft fence so you can move to Tottenham or Slough.

And with so many transparently post-adolescent people being dutifully shipped across the English Channel and ushered into Britain by a credulous Home Office, it does not fall beyond the bounds of reasonable political humour to joke about the way in which British immigration and asylum rules are being so nakedly and egregiously flouted (the photo captions in this Daily Mail piece are some of the best political comedy this month).

Unless, that is, you are a thin-skinned Labour MP whose metro-leftist ideology demands that anybody and everybody who demands admittance to Britain is immediately and unquestioningly allowed in. For in such cases, joking about octogenarian “children” being rescued from the perils of France is not mere political banter – it is inherently racist for a start, and worse, it is highly offensive and triggering to those leftist MPs whose ideology and motivations are being mocked.

The Mirror reports:

A Labour shadow minister has been left upset after someone stuck up a “highly offensive” child refugees joke in her shared kitchen in Westminster.

Chi Onwurah shared the A4 sheet on Twitter after it was found this morning in the room she shares with Labour, Tory and SNP MPs.

The message mocked refugees after pundits and Tory MPs questioned the age of arrivals in Britain who said they were under 18.

It showed an old man with the message: “Just £3 from you could clothe and feed this 12-year-old Syrian child for a week”.

Highly offensive, really?

Who, exactly, does Chi Onwurah think is offended by this poster? Genuine child refugees from Syria? None of them have visited the House of Commons kitchen, or had an opportunity to see the offending poster. Genuine child refugees will have far more pressing cares and concerns on their innocent minds than a poster which mocks people who are clearly above the threshold of adulthood but trying to pass themselves off as children.

No, the only people “offended” by this poster are the virtue-signalling, bleeding heart lefties who are currently puffing themselves up with over-conspicuous compassion for people who already enjoy the shelter and protection of a safe and very pleasant country (France) because their metro-leftist ideology calls them to undermine the nation state at every turn and defy national borders wherever they exist.

And as even the MP herself emphasises to us, the main takeaway from this event is that Chi Onwurah, not any refugee or person directly connected to the migrant crisis, was left “upset” by the incident:

In other words, Onwurah – who, as an MP, is an immensely privileged and powerful member of society – was left distressed because somebody challenged and mocked her worldview in the form of a poster. That’s what we are invited to feel upset about, really. Not the genuine child refugees themselves. Screw the child refugees. Screw the adult refugees posing as children, for that matter. No, what really matters here is that a virtue-signalling Compassion Olympian like Chi Onwurah encountered some unexpected pushback against her leftist worldview, and promptly fell to pieces as a consequence.

This is – oh, how best to put it? – completely and utterly pathetic. This blog has sympathy for anybody desperate enough to traverse the continent of Europe and then rot in an improvised camp in Calais just to try to reach our shores. That sympathy does not extend to wanting to throw open our borders to anyone who seeks to abuse the asylum process to have their pick of safe European destinations – that’s not what asylum is for or how the system is supposed to work, and the nation state ceases to mean anything if everyone who fancies a life in Britain can claim one – but there is great sympathy nonetheless. And I back that concern and sympathy with action where I can, with charitable donations to appropriate organisations seeking to provide relief to genuine refugees.

But this blog has absolutely no sympathy for Chi Onwurah. I hope that with time and extensive therapy, the MP for Newcastle Central will manage to recover from the immense personal trauma of encountering a poster which contradicted and mocked her own personal worldview. It is truly a calamity of monstrous proportions, verging on torture, for a leftist MP to accidentally behold a poster which scorns her own personal belief that every last migrant seeking to gain entry to Britain is a legitimate refugee from the Syrian conflict, or that everyone who claims to be a child is actually under the age of eighteen. We may as well be honest – the person who put up this poster in the House of Commons tea room effectively mentally waterboarded poor Ms. Onwurah. There is simply no other way to put it.

And yet call me crazy, but this blog would sooner feel sympathy for those genuine refugees who have undergone untold sufferings on their voyage to Europe than for an MP who (shock, horror) experienced indirect mockery in the House of Commons – an unheard of and unprecedented indignity, I’m sure.

But this is how the modern Left operates. They have weaponised victimhood and offence-taking to such an extent that the target of any supposedly “offensive” speech no longer even has to be the victim group currently being exploited for political gain. Now, it is an equal crime to “offend” the leftist advocates of that victim group. Insulting Chi Onwurah is like insulting a vulnerable child refugee herself, according to this ridiculous mindset. To offend against a leftist white knight is to offend against their beneficiary.

The Mirror article concludes:

Directing her comments at whoever posted the image she said: “It’s a communal area, not everybody shares your sense of humour.

“There are many things I get angry about but I’m not going to force that on my work colleagues.

“I don’t think it’s funny. Not when you see what people have been through coming from Syria.

“People often share jokes but this is a communal area and I and others shouldn’t have to suffer what you think is funny.”

Ms Onwurah said her researcher took the poster down, and she was unlikely to make a formal complaint if it broke the rules because she had already highlighted it by making it public.

Again, we are invited to feel sympathy for and rend our garments in solidarity with Chi Onwurah, who has seen refugees from a distance, rather than with the refugees themselves. It is her trauma we are supposed to care about, not that of the migrants and refugees in Calais. The self-involvement of Onwurah’s complaint would be hilarious, were it not quite so sickening.

From her fainting couch, Onwurah writes that she should not have to “suffer” the sense of humour of the person who erected the poster, despite also conceding that other “people often share jokes”, seemingly without arousing her ire. In other words, Onwurah effectively sets the bar for offence within the Palace of Westminster at the low level of her own easily-triggered sensitivities.

And yet Onwurah actually believes she is being magnanimous by not reporting the incident to the House of Commons authorities (who presumably have an HR policy ready to go, just waiting for the moment when a Labour MP was triggered by a satirical poster). Onwurah clearly believes that it is perfectly within her legal and moral rights to summon the authorities and have them crash down like a ton of bricks on the head of the perpetrator – and that she is showing mercy to the perpetrator by not doing so.

Ultimately, Chi Onwurah’s complaint asks the British people to be more concerned that a home-made poster violated the safe space for leftist groupthink that is the House of Commons communal areas than we are about the plight of genuine child refugees stranded in Calais.

Leftists like Onwurah are aghast that a harmless poster mocked and contradicted their worldview, and have no compunction about assuming the same language of frailty and victimhood as the people they so ostentatiously affect to help, even though we can say with cast iron certainty that No Refugee Was Harmed In The Making Of This Poster.

And that really tells you everything you need to know about the self-involvement, decadence and moral bankruptcy of the modern Left.

 

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Bottom Image: Chi Onwurrah / Twitter

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Stronger Together? The Mighty European Union Is Dancing To The Tune Of A Petty, Minor League Tyrant

Greeting between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the left, and Jean-Claude Juncker

The unedifying sight of European leaders falling over themselves to flatter and persuade the two-bit despot of Turkey to help solve a problem largely of their own making is damning proof that EU member states are definitively NOT stronger together

The most common refrain heard from Remainers and assorted EU apologists is that by pooling (read: surrendering) sovereignty with 27 other nations, we are “stronger together” and mysteriously greater than the sum of our collective parts – that something magical happens when Ireland, Britain, Slovakia and Croatia act through a supranational government based in Brussels which (for reasons they never explain) could not be achieved through friendly inter-governmental cooperation between sovereign countries.

This tiresome and unsupported claim is fatuous beyond words, and usually uttered by people who don’t understand the first thing about either the history of the European Union or how it operates, but who nonetheless cheer on the idea of European political integration in order to virtue-signal the fact that they hold the “correct” progressive  opinions to their equally vapid friends and peers.

And if you want proof that being part of a remorselessly politically integrating club of 28 diverse countries actually makes us the very opposite of “stronger together”, one need only look at how the European Union is being hoodwinked and bullied by that beady-eyed, egotistical, embryonic dictator from Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Douglas Murray writes in the Spectator:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has persuaded the EU to grant visa-free travel to his 75 million countrymen inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen area. In so doing, he has made more progress than any of his predecessors. Using a combination of intimidation, threats and blackmail, he has succeeded in opening wide the doors of Europe.

Erdogan’s success matters, because it says much about the EU — and the idea that it exerts ‘soft power’. This was the theory in 1999 when the EU declared Turkey to be ‘a candidate State, destined to join the Union’ so long as it fulfilled the standard criteria for membership. Its state should have ‘achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities’.

And it was all going so swimmingly. Oh, wait:

As Erdogan has worked out, however much Turkey fails to live up to the EU’s expectations, the EU’s attitude to Turkey is ‘ever onwards’. Its 2013 ‘Visa Liberalisation Dialogue’ set out 72 conditions on security, migration, public order, fundamental rights and readmission of irregular migrants that Turkey needed to achieve. Despite failing them, in November last year the EU and Turkey agreed that visa-free travel should start this October. All the time Turkey demanded more and faster.

As well they could. Because last year — after the German Chancellor opened the borders of Europe to anyone who could get here — the tables turned. Persuaded that every problem in the Middle East, Far East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa was Europe’s fault and Europe’s responsibility, millions duly came. And will again. Today, even the European Commission and Frau Merkel realise that in order to avert political catastrophe in Europe, they must bring the number of entrants down. Suddenly, as Erdogan himself said, ‘The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.’

So this is the European Union’s much-vaunted “soft power”. This is how forcing 28 separate countries – incidentally, countries which often lavish money on social programmes but completely neglect their own security and defence – to act through a single supranational government actually works in practice. How other nations must tremble when Europe speaks.

The supposed soft power of Brussels is supposed to be European political union’s chief advantage and a key foundation of the Remain campaign’s case for staying in the EU, yet on the most important of issues it is virtually non-existent, a paper tiger. Turkey’s president openly mocks and belittles EU leaders to their faces, even as they roll out the red carpet and treat him “like a prince” (in the word’s of the European Commission’s own pandering  President Juncker).

But as Tom Slater correctly points out in Spiked, the real fault is not with Turkey and Erdogan, thin-skinned, authoritarian despot though he is. The problem is with Europe and its profound crisis of values:

As for the migrant deal, it was EU incompetence that ceded Erdogan all of his leverage in the first place. Having chosen to ignore the fact that it had long lost control of its southern borders – not least because of some of its members’ cack-handed crusades in the Middle East and North Africa – the EU’s response to the refugee crisis was chaotic and can-kicking. The EU elite’s attempt to enforce migrant quotas on member states was a typically anti-democratic move. But it couldn’t even pull that off. The EU is as inept as it is tyrannical, meaning cutting a deal with Turkey became the only option.

The ground-shaking power of Turkey is the fantasy of a continent that doesn’t know what it is anymore. The more Europe drifts from its founding values, the more EU elites struggle to execute anything other than a photo-op, the more Erdogan, the ‘tall man’ of Ankara, grows in stature. Bashing Turkey can only distract us from this profound crisis.

But how can this be? How did this “profound crisis” come about? Forcing 28 separate countries under the suffocating umbrella of one supranational government with one collective presence on the world stage was supposed to amplify our voice. Hell, the EU’s most starry-eyed lovers even dream of Brussels rivalling and eventually supplanting the United States as the most consequential actor in world affairs. And yet here we are, failing in our negotiations with a pathetic little tin-pot dictator, throwing away billions of taxpayer euros in the hope of the slightest concession from Turkey, while the eurocrats are bested and humiliated at every turn.

This is what happens when the EU tries to prance around on the world stage as though it were a legitimate country, despite not having the one thing most fundamental to any nation state – a cohesive demos, a people with a shared European identity, let alone common interests. This is what happens when the conflicting priorities, fears, red lines and neuroses of 28 separate countries are forcibly mashed together – the result is a laughable compromise backed with the weakest of wills, easily picked apart by a half-competent negotiator.

Erdogan isn’t stupid. He knows that having eliminated internal borders, the EU’s Schengen area countries are desperate to stop the immigration crisis at (or at least near) source, and that consequently he holds all of the cards. Erdogan knows that the EU is hopelessly divided, with German chancellor Angela Merkel having made the grandiose and criminally irresponsible gesture of welcoming anybody with the means to enter Europe – seeking to expunge Germany’s past national guilt in a single stroke, knowing that hundreds of thousands more would be encouraged to come while other countries would end up footing much of the bill.

A Europe that was not intent on forcing itself against common sense and natural law to become a single political entity might be able to deal with the Syrian (and broader) refugee and economic migration crisis in a rational, productive way. A Europe based on inter-governmental cooperation rather than supra-national control might be able to hammer out a deal to accept more genuine refugees, share them equitably, take only the brightest and best of the economic migrants, and offer real assistance and solidarity to countries like Greece and Italy which bear the brunt of the crisis. But this is not the Europe we have. Once again, the stubborn desire for European political union is actively killing people.

So let’s hear it again from the Remainers and desperate EU apologists. Let them continue to lecture us about how the European Union “amplifies our voice” and enables us to “punch above our weight“. Let them tell us how Europe’s representative on the world stage, former Young Communist Federica Mogherini, is universally feared and respected, the modern day hybrid of Charlemagne and Henry Kissinger.

Let them continue to peddle the preposterous myth that little old France, Germany and Britain – two of them nuclear powers, and the other the world’s fourth largest economy – are helpless on their own and only worthy of sitting across the table from the mighty President Erdogan to seek his favour because they cower behind the EU’s skirts.

Let them tell us again how being in the European Union gives us the diplomatic clout that countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, India and Russia so effortlessly wield every day, but which pathetic little Britain would struggle to replicate on our own.

Go on. Tell us. Read the latest account of hundreds of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and tell us again just how star-spangled awesome the European Union is, and how successfully it helps us grapple with the most pressing challenges in today’s world.

Seriously. I’m all ears.

 

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Why Does Britain No Longer Care Much About Refugees?

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Rather than reflexively blaming the hard-hearted British people for failing to welcome more refugees from Syria, our political elites should acknowledge their part in making a more generous humanitarian response a political impossibility

Dan Hodges has a reflective and rather wistful column in yesterday’s Telegraph, in which he says that people who pride themselves on their progressive values must accept that they have lost the argument, and that Britain will not make a more meaningful contribution in terms of accepting a number of Syrian asylum seekers more in line with many of our European neighbours.

Hodges writes:

There is no longer an argument to be had about whether or not significant numbers of refugees should be admitted to the UK. The pendulum of empathy – which swung briefly following thepublication of photos of little Alan Kurdi lying motionless on that Turkish beach – has swung back. The clashes at the Hungarian-Serbian border. The Paris attacks. Cologne. They are shaping public opinion now. And it will not be reshaped.

[..] There is no longer any point in expending energy on morally comforting tokenism. The argument about whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Europe, or whether to accept them from camps within region, is as relevant to the crisis we – or more importantly, they – are facing as debating whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Mars. According to the latest figures from the UNHCR, there are 4,597,436 registered Syrian refugees. 39 per cent of them are under the age of 11. A further 13 per cent are between the ages of 12 and 17. To continue to use the children of Syria in a proxy argument over our willingness to “do our bit” is not an exercise in compassion but an exercise in grotesque self-indulgence.

There is also no longer any point attempting to delude ourselves the solution to the Syrian refugee crisis can be found in Europe. Yes, we have the resources to provide sanctuary. But we do not have the political will to provide sanctuary. Actually, blaming the politicians on this one is a cop out. We do not have the public will to provide sanctuary.

Hodges is right that there is simply no longer any public will to take in poor, tired, huddled masses trying to escape from civil war and the particularly murderous theocracy of ISIS. And his notion of a “pendulum of empathy” is powerful and accurate way of describing what has happened to public opinion here.

But why is this the case? Why has the pendulum swung so hard away from generosity and toward selfishness? While Dan Hodges’ piece is eminently pragmatic in its acknowledgement of failure and suggestions for a feasible way forward, it fails to ask why we are where we are – why British hearts are so hardened to the idea of welcoming many thousands more refugees.

I would make a couple of suggestions:

1. The line between refugee and economic migrant has become almost impossibly blurred in our globalised age of jet travel and smartphones. People living in benighted parts of the world know better than ever just how good we have it in prosperous countries like Britain, and it is easier than ever before (though still perilous for some) for many to travel here – and ever more tempting compared to the life of hardship and drudgery facing them at home if they stay.

But where do you possibly draw the line between economic migrant and refugee? If being in a country engaged in civil war is sufficient qualification then all 22 million Syrian citizens would be entitled to refuge in Europe, and those of other countries too. But this would be quite unfeasible. Besides the impossibility of emptying a country of its every last non-combatant whenever hostilities break out, it ignores the vital agency that at lease some of these citizens must have in fighting for their own freedoms and liberties.

So if not all citizens, how do you choose among those who have risked their lives to reach safety, often with little or no paperwork or proof that they have a particular fear of persecution or harm to distinguish them from any other.

I simply don’t see a way that any such process can be anything other than arbitrary, endlessly bureaucratic and cruel. Add to this the fact that accepting people blindly on a first-come, first-served basis is untenable and creates serious potential national security issues, and the current paralysis is quite understandable, if no less frustrating.

2. Britain has accepted hundreds of thousands of new arrivals through legal immigration routes, particularly from some of the A10 countries which joined the European Union in 2004. And we did so while any talk about the potential impact that this relatively huge wave of immigration might have on community cohesion, housing or public services was instantly dismissed by scornful elites as xenophobic tub thumping at best, or outright racism at worse.

Prior to the rise of UKIP as a legitimate, non-extreme outlet for these concerns, nobody in the establishment was talking about this issue, and the ground was ceded to the likes of the extremist BNP. There was effectively a conspiracy of silence and intimidation against those who questioned the extent of immigration into Britain, with those in power doing nothing to respond meaningfully to public concerns partly because the political class were fortunate enough to belong to the group which disproportionately benefits from immigration and sees only its positive aspects, while other less fortunate people – often those without university degrees and less economic security – were far more likely to feel the negative consequences.

You don’t have to be an opponent of immigration to abhor the undemocratic way that these transformational changes were foisted on Britain by stealth, and without a thought of engaging with the people to consult their views. Indeed, this blog greatly favours immigration, but believes that the negative consequences are real, and can only be mitigated if the process of deciding immigration policy is open, transparent and democratic. But Britain’s immigration policy is none of these things, and one of the consequences of an aloof, disengaged and elitist policy is always going to be massive popular resentment and opposition to those same policies.

Therefore, if we are looking to cast blame or understand why Britain is behaving so apparently harshly in the face of this current humanitarian disaster, should we not first look to the historic cheerleaders of unlimited immigration – the pro EU fanatics, New Labour architects, those who held national power in the 2000s and the virtue-signalling middle class clerisy who flaunted their enlightened credentials by attacking anybody who expressed doubt about what was happening?

Now people will say that it is unfair to conflate immigration and asylum, as the two are quite separate things. And they would be correct – they are separate, and it is unfair. But both economic migration and taking in asylum seekers involve adding to the population and increasing the burden on services and infrastructure which cannot greatly expand to match demand in the short to medium term. And when you sorely abuse the public’s willingness to accommodate one influx of people, they are naturally far more guarded and hostile when it comes to the next, different influx.

If Britain did not have a completely open door to all regional immigration – unheard of in any major country outside Europe – could we have managed the influx of people wanting to work and settle here in a more planned and measured way, and with a modicum of democratic consent from the people? Arguably, yes.

And if Britain had not seen 1.4 million economic migrants settle here from EU accession countries within just the last fifteen years, would there be more willingness now to accept many more refugees in desperate need? Again, arguably, yes.

At least Dan Hodges and the progressive Left would now have had a much clearer grievance if Britain then still failed to admit a larger number of refugees. They would be able to accuse the government and the country of barely concealed racism, and of acting selfishly when nothing had been asked of them before, and do so with real justification.

But we do not live in that alternate reality. We live in the real world, where Dan Hodges and the europhiles got everything they wanted year after year, with Britain’s borders fully open and anyone who complained swiftly painted as a xenophobic Little Englander and banished from respectable society.

And so in 2016, unfortunately it is the desperate refugees – rather than the virtue-signalling progressive Left – who are now paying the price of this arrogant folly.

 

Refugees - Calais

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Arrogant MPs Want To Turn Political Debate Into Their Own Safe Space

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Being heckled and pilloried by obnoxious online trolls is a regrettable part of the job description for any 21st century MP. But the right answer is to ignore the idiots and move on, not to impose draconian codes of conduct or prison sentences for insulting speech

When Britain is in the midst of debating great issues of war and peace, it is frankly astounding that much of the media seems more concerned with the hurt feelings of Labour MPs threatened with deselection by angry constituents than the consequences of British military action in Syria.

In the aftermath of the Syria vote in parliament, I saw one newspaper headline in particular that represented such an unhinged piece of self-aggrandising hyperbole that it made me do a double-take:

Jeremy Corbyn has made us targets for jihadists - shadow cabinet - Syria vote - ISIS.jpg

Apparently, by failing to assume direct control of the hearts and minds of every single one of his supporters – and physically preventing them from blowing off steam in the aftermath of the Syria air strikes vote in Parliament – Jeremy Corbyn is personally responsible for endangering the lives of those MPs who voted with the government for military action:

Jeremy Corbyn has made his MPs targets for home-grown jihadists in the wake of the vote to back Syrian air strikes, a shadow cabinet minister has warned.

The accusation that MPs are being left open to revenge attacks came as a backbencher made a formal complaint to Labour’s chief whip over Mr Corbyn’s “despicable and deliberate” threats over the Syria vote which he said will lead to “personal violence” against MPs.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, which saw 66 MPs defy Mr Corbyn to back David Cameron’s plans for military action, Labour Unity, a hard-left organisation linked to the party leader, released a “traitor list” of backbenchers who should be targeted for de-selection.

Mr Corbyn and his allies have been directly accused of “aiding and abetting” the intimidation of Labour MPs by leaking the names of MPs preparing to back the Government in recent days.

This is not a joke. A member of the Labour Party shadow cabinet – a fully grown adult with an important constitutional role to play in our democracy – serious believes that by expressing his scepticism about air strikes on Syria, Jeremy Corbyn has made dissenting MPs vulnerable to terrorist attack. They believed it strongly enough – or hated Corbyn enough – to give these quotes to a national newspaper.

First of all, Jeremy Corbyn needs to identify who this self-aggrandising crybaby is, and kick them so hard out of his shadow cabinet that they end up back in local government debating bin collections and street lighting. Such brazen disrespect of the leader is absolutely intolerable in a serious political party.

Jeremy Corbyn, of course, tolerates self-important asides from whiny, self-entitled members of his own shadow cabinet every single day, which suggests that he has the patience of a saint, whatever his many other flaws. But no leader should expect to be confronted with daily leaks and insubordination of this kind from their own shadow cabinet, particularly scurrilous juvenile fantasies that he is somehow endangering the lives of his colleagues simply by disagreeing with them.

This blog agrees with almost none of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist platform, but this open defiance of the leader has to stop if the Labour Party ever hope to be taken seriously as a cohesive force in British politics. Right now, the only hope for the Labour centrists is that Corbyn proves himself to be so unelectable in the London mayoral, local and devolved assembly elections that real momentum builds for him to be replaced.

By constantly snarking and running to their media sources in the media every time Corbyn’s leadership style hurts their pwecious wittle feewings, Corbyn will be able to point to all of this insubordination later on, when he is on the ropes, and say that he is failing not due to a popular rejection of his policies but thanks to disloyalty from his own shadow cabinet. This is the last thing that the centrists should want, but in typical myopic fashion they are totally incapable of looking more than one step ahead.

Syria Vote - Trolling - Online Abuse - MPs

But it’s not just the fifth column within Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet who are at fault. An increasing number of MPs from all parties (but particularly Labour) are speaking out, claiming that robust and sometimes distasteful criticism of their political views and voting records is somehow tantamount to “bullying”.

This has now reached the point where even expressing the view that your MP is doing a bad job and should be deselected as their party’s candidate at the next general election is also being described as “bullying” by some self-entitled and wobbly-lipped MPs.

The BBC reports:

Ann Coffey, who has represented Stockport since 1992 was told: “Get behind the leader or kindly go.”

In response, she said she will “await the assassins to come out of the shadows”.

Assassins? What Ann Coffey is referring to is the great fear now stalking the Parliamentary Labour Party – deselection.

While the Metro reports on the party establishment’s hurt response:

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who voted against air strikes, called on Mr Corbyn to show ‘no tolerance’ of abusive behaviour within the party and said a code of conduct was needed for members’ use of social media.

He was particularly disappointed with the treatment colleague Ann Coffey had received after voting for the strikes.

‘She has served Stockport, her constituents and our party for many years with distinction, and people need to have a look at themselves before they go around throwing threats at people like that,’ he told BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire Show.

Whether Ann Coffey has served her constituents and her party well or not is beside the point – it is not for Andy Burnham, a fellow MP, to decide on behalf of Coffey’s constituents whether or not she should continue to be their Labour Party candidate, nor to shield her from public criticism.

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This is a ludicrous state of affairs. MPs are grown adults, serious people who should be capable of participating in the rough and tumble of democratic debate without needing some higher authority to step in and moderate the debate to spare their delicate sensitivities.

Spiked’s Tom Slater agrees, writing:

Let’s get a few things straight. First of all, if you’re over 16 – let alone a prominent politician – you’ve got no right to claim you’re being bullied. Bullying is what happens in the playground. And most kids put up with far worse than a few nasty emails. It’s pathetic. Secondly, being called a ‘baby killer’ isn’t nice, but it’s not abuse or intimidation. It’s political critique – asinine, sixth-formerish, idiotic political critique, but it’s political critique nonetheless. And as for those who have claimed to have received death threats, they’re just not credible. Neil Coyle MP contacted the police, all because someone tweeted three knife emojis to him. Jesus wept.

[..] This is bad news for politics. The war on trolling, we were told, was all about protecting poor, vulnerable people from being hounded out of the public square. Now, 40-plus politicians are using the same language to protect themselves from criticism. In these strange political times, we need more conflict, more argument and, yes, more abuse-hurling. Politicians crying foul when someone disagrees with them – that’s what the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics looks like.

It is bad enough that our universities – supposedly places of intellectual rigour and ‘no holds barred’ debate – are turning into soft cornered safe spaces where delicate snowflake students insist on being protected from ever having to encounter a dissenting or provocative opinion. But apparently the disease has not been contained and has spilled over the borders of academia into the very heart of our democracy, the political sphere.

This is exceedingly dangerous. Angry, safe space-dwelling students are proving themselves more than capable of stifling debate, changing whole curricula and agitating for decent staff to be fired, despite having almost no formal power in the university hierarchy system. How much more damage, then, can elected MPs do to our already-weakened free speech rights when they are the ones setting the political agenda and making the laws that we must follow?

Enough is enough. Being told that one has blood on one’s hands because of a vote for military action may be jarring, unsettling and nasty. But MPs should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and engage with those constituents who engage with them respectfully, whilst either ignoring or belittling those who are rude or aggressive.

In fact, Labour MP Stella Creasy herself – usually leading the charge to criminalise Twitter abuse – inadvertently demonstrated how best to handle mean Twitter insults in the aftermath of the Syria vote when she responded to a member of the public who swore at her and called her a witch:

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Highlight the idiocy, publicly smack it down and move on. Or simply ignore the haters altogether. That’s all an MP has to do.

This should be the model which all MPs follow, all the time. Engage with the genuine constituents, especially when they are legitimately angry. Ignore those who are gratuitously mean, insulting or belligerent. But only report to the police those who make serious and credible threats of physical harm.

This is how anyone who has ever worked in a private sector customer service job would handle their interactions with the public every single day. Ask any London bus driver if they call the police every time they are demeaned, insulted or “bullied” while at work, and they would laugh in your face. When you work in a tough job like that, you grow a thick skin.

We should expect no less maturity (in the face of occasional public immaturity) from our elected representatives in Parliament.

Margaret Thatcher - Internet Trolling

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