Author Archives: Bradley Hillier-Smith

Discussing the European Refugee ‘Crisis’ and the UK’s Responsibilities.

We had a very well attended fringe meeting in Bournemouth on this important issue – helped and sustained by the great Dorset  High Tea, kindly provided by Liberal Democrat Voice.

There are over 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 22 million of whom are refugees who have left their country of origin. Over half of refugees are children. Nearly 90% of refugees currently reside in states bordering conflict zones in the global south. A relatively minimal amount have sought and been granted safety in western European states. This insightful and fascinating fringe event explored and analysed the European response to refugee flows and the UK’s involvement in that response and their policies towards refugees.

Professor Brad Blitz, Professor of International Politics at Middlesex university, opened the discussion with the serious concern that there is very little critical evaluation or accountability of the EU and UK policies towards refugees. Aid and humanitarian polices are not currently based on enough evidence of effectiveness, and decision-making is poorly informed. Numerous reports have condemned French and in particular UK policies as failing to protect refugee children, failing to protect the human rights of refugees and migrants, and the failure of EU’s policy of containment.

Professor Blitz emphasised a note of caution in using the term European refugee ‘crisis’ as it fails to acknowledge that crossings of the Mediterranean and informal settlements have been occurring for over a decade, and the term can invite a reactionary ill-informed response rather than a well-considered and sustainable legal and political framework through which to aid and settle refugees.

A reactionary response aptly describes the majority of EU states’ policies towards the influx of refugees and migrants from 2015-2016 (Germany being a notable exception). European states responded with border enforcement, increased passport control between Schengen area countries, and the construction of fences (notable examples being the 180km fences on the Hungarian border as well as like blockades at Idomeni and Calais). These measures reflect an ‘inhospitality towards migrants’, leave thousands of refugees and migrants stranded on borders. They also have a knock on effect on Lebanon and Jordan who have similarly reinforced border controls in relation to Syrians. 

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Why Vince Cable is wrong to call for an end to free movement

Vince Cable is fundamentally wrong to suggest that there is no great argument of liberal principle for free movement and his case for ending free movement is weak. He ought to revise his views to be in more in keeping with liberal values which, in the face of rising and fierce anti-migrant rhetoric, are sorely needed.

His assertion that ‘British opposition to immigration is mainly colour-blind’ is simply not true.

Fears and prejudices were purposefully stoked during the referendum with explicit scapegoating, disingenuous scaremongering about Turkish migrants and in particular Farage’s appalling blatantly non-colour-blind Breaking Point’ poster campaign.

Hate crime has soared since the referendum.  The vast majority of the targets of xenophobic incidents and abuse have been EU migrants in particular citizens from Eastern European countries.

Islamophobia and associated crimes have also risen exponentially. Note the 25 serious incidents of anti-muslim hate crimes recorded in the three days after the Brexit vote. People are explicitly abusing muslims in the streets ‘because we voted out’, shouting ‘shouldn’t you be on a plane back to Pakistan? We voted you out!’

The EU referendum vote has unleashed an ugly force of racism where those who hold prejudiced views feel emboldened to shout, abuse and attack people in the street, post excrement through people’s letter boxes and rip off people’s hijabs in public. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 84 Comments

Lib Dems donate aid and volunteer in Calais

Drop stitches not bombsDespite not being as high on the news agenda the refugee crisis is still ongoing, with thousands of people seeking safety arriving on Europe’s shores every week.

The Lib Dems have been proud to stand up for refugees and campaign for the UK to offer help and safety. Tim Farron was the first party leader to visit Calais, Lesvos and Idomeni. He has led the campaign for the UK to take in 3000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe. Our peers in the House of Lords have worked tirelessly to pressure the government to take in more refugees. On the ground Lib Dem volunteers have raised vanloads of essential items donations to be sent to aid refugees in the camps across Europe.

There are serious concerns that Brexit and rising anti-migrant rhetoric could be a backwards step in our campaigns to take in more refugees. The political developments following the leave vote could also take attention away from the ongoing plights of refugees. However we as Lib Dems refuse to let brexit mean that we forget our moral obligations to help refugees. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

Lib Dems deliver vital aid to Dunkirk Refugee Camp

Brad HS Dunkirk 1Throughout last week Baroness Shas Sheehan and I have been collecting vital items needed in the camp in Dunkirk. From a list of items approved by volunteers on the ground we asked Lib Dems and local residents to come together and purchase what they could. The list included brand new sleeping bags, tents, blankets, food, gas, warm and waterproof clothes as well as sturdy, waterproof shoes. We were overwhelmed with the response and managed to fill a van to the brim with these essential donations.

On Sunday, we drove the van across to northern France to the camp in Dunkirk. The conditions in Dunkirk are in many ways worse than in Calais. The mud is particularly problematic for the 2,500 mainly Kurdish refugees living there. Local authorities are disallowing any construction of more sturdy wooden shelters so most people live in tents. This does not offer much protection and makes the weather a real problem with high winds, cold temperatures and large rainfall, especially in the last few days. It is also the case that there are more families and children in this camp.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Lib Dems take action to help refugees

actiondayIt’s that time of the year when you first notice that your breath becomes visible in the cold air and you feel the need for that extra layer. Unfortunately refugees living in the camps across Europe have also noticed their breath in the cold air but may not have the extra layers that they need.

As Lib Dems, I think it is fair to say, we have been appalled by the government’s (lack of) response to the current refugee crisis. We have been appalled that the government has turned its back on …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 23rd Feb - 2:19am
    The Layfield Commission on Local Government Finance (Layfield Committee, 1976) came to the view that there should be major changes in the financing of British...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 23rd Feb - 1:18am
    A harrowing tale of real distress for these parents, Kirsten. I echo your conclusion that " We need a joined-up approach to disability provision –...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 23rd Feb - 1:00am
    Keynes did offer us some advice on how best to manage the public finances. To find out what is was it is best to go...
  • User AvatarJoeB 23rd Feb - 12:28am
    Layla, as she so often does gets to the heart of the issue in saying " the idea that university should be free for everyone...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 23rd Feb - 12:27am
    nonconformistradical I said "people who did not pay fees". That is everyone who went to university before 1998. Lots of people. I did not say...
  • User AvatarRoland 23rd Feb - 12:26am
    Germany has managed to abolish tuition fees as they weren’t working for the economy. And they are also finding that having abolished them, that also...