Sunday, 13 September 2015
Refugees: we should be on the streets every week
The demonstrations in support of Syrian refugees are heartening, but in some ways irrelevant.
Firstly, although David Cameron appears to have responded positively to the media coverage of recent tragic events, he has practically not shifted the government's line on immigration, as Steve Richards has pointed out in the Indy. Moreover, the minister directly responsible, Theresa May, has not spoken publicly on the issue. They are more concerned about the gut feeling against immigration shared by a majority of voters in the parliamentary seats that matter. Opinion polls on the matter have hardly changed even after the media storm.
Secondly, there is still a backlog of thousands of asylum cases, a situation which has only marginally improved since the dysfunctional UK Borders Agency was done away with. Many refugees will be deported on specious grounds, which they will not be allowed to contest until they are already back in their supposedly safe country of origin. Liberal Democrats in coalition were able to improve on the shambles which Labour had left in 2010, in that child refugees are no longer routinely imprisoned. At least no Labour MPs had the gall to appear prominently in the refugee-welcome rallies - apart from the new leader Jeremy Corbyn who was entitled, having voted against all the anti-immigrant measures moved by governments of all persuasions.