Don’t talk to me about migrants…

I didn’t actually get to see a news bulletin until 10pm last night and when I did, I was livid. Language matters. The 59 men, 8 women and 4 children who suffocated in that lorry were human beings and yet they were being described as “migrants” not people. Had those people been British, there would have been wall to wall news coverage of the tragedy for days. Already it’s slipping down the pecking order in the news bulletins along with the news of the drowning of another 200 people in the Mediterranean.

Calling these people “migrants” is both inaccurate and dehumanising. It’s inaccurate because most of them are refugees. Let’s face it, if you live in Syria you find yourself caught between a brutal government and barbaric ISIS. Amnesty’s most recent report on Syria outlines just how bad things are.

Syria’s internal armed conflict continued relentlessly through the year and saw both government forces and non-state armed groups commit extensive war crimes and gross human rights abuses with impunity. Government forces deliberately targeted civilians, indiscriminately bombarding civilian residential areas and medical facilities with artillery, mortars, barrel bombs and chemical agents, unlawfully killing civilians. Government forces also enforced lengthy sieges, trapping civilians and depriving them of food, medical care and other necessities. Security forces arbitrarily arrested or continued to detain thousands, including peaceful activists, human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers, and children, subjecting some to enforced disappearance and others to prolonged detention or unfair trials. Security forces systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity; thousands of detainees reportedly died due to torture or harsh conditions. Non-state armed groups, which controlled some areas and contested others, indiscriminately shelled and besieged areas containing civilians perceived to support the government. Some, particularly the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) armed group, carried out indiscriminate suicide attacks and other bombings in civilian areas, and perpetrated numerous unlawful killings, including summary killings of captives and suspected opponents.

Anyone fleeing that carnage is a refugee. Of that there can be no argument. We should be doing all we can to help these people and to provide them with what they need to create a new life across the EU.  We should feel ashamed of the inaction of our government.

If this country took their fair share of these people, we would only be extending a lifeline to around 4000 people. Cameron’s dehumanising talk of swarms make it sound like there are hundreds of people desperate to move into your street. Actually, Scotland could quite easily take all of them if we put our mind to it.

There is of course nothing wrong with moving to another place for economic reasons. Anyone who has ever moved away from the place they were born to find work will realise that. People generally want to do the best for their families. It’s a fairly basic human instinct. We shouldn’t tolerate the word migrant being used almost as a term of abuse, either, but we must be realistic about why these people are fleeing in such numbers.

The crushing inevitability of these last few months is that there will be another tragedy along very soon. More lives will be lost as more families flee the horrendous war zones in the Middle East. As liberals, we shouldn’t be putting up with this. We should be shouting loudly for governments across Europe to stop faffing and do much more to help our fellow human beings.  We should be encouraging empathy and understanding and standing up to the Daily Mail and our government.

Most of us have been lucky enough to grow up without having to face war or the realistic prospect of war on our doorsteps. We should be much more open-hearted and generous to those who have. Tim Farron is doing a fantastic job, but it shouldn’t just be up to him. We liberals are  ambitious and work towards a fairer, more peaceful world, not just a fairer more peaceful country. It’s not just about passing conference motions. Each day we should think about what we can do to break down the barriers, to challenge the hostility towards anyone foreign that we see far too often. We need to find ever more creative ways to stand up to the mean-spirited xenophobia of the right wing press, UKIP and the current government.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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91 Comments

  • “Calling these people “migrants” is both inaccurate and dehumanising.”

    It’s neither.

    Refugees are a subset of migrants. The reason they migrate is to seek sanctuary from persecution or conflict rather than seeking a better life, and while they enjoy a clearer legal status than other migrants, they are still crossing borders to resettle just like all other migrants.

    But what really annoys me is how more and more liberals are accepting the conservative conceit that it’s dehumanising to be a migrant. People migrate. We move cities, we move countries, we move continents. As liberals we should be fighting for people to be as free to migrate as possible and take pride in the fact that they are making the most of their lives. Instead of pandering to conservative anti-migrant sentiment, let’s take inspiration from the gay rights movement and fight for our right to be who are and do what we do. Let’s have Migrant Pride parades.

    Some people are migrants – get over it.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Aug '15 - 9:59am

    There is method in the madness, Caron. One should never under-estimate the power of language.

    If we use language that dehumanises people, we don’t have to care. They are no longer considered worthy of the human concern and dignity that we are taught to give to our fellow humans.

    If we have not learned that lesson from history, we have learned nothing.

  • While the sentiments expressed here are good, they have been expressed many, many times, but what the people of Syria need is solutions, not sentiments. I don’t hear too many detailed suggestions of what we should actually be doing.

    Syria is (or was, as of 2013) a country of nearly 23 million people. I’m not sure that taking 4,000 of them would solve very much, or mean that we’d done our fair share. If we distributed all Syrians equally across the globe, our fair share would be over 200,000.

    We should focus less on the minority who have escaped Syria – who, if they survive the journey, are the lucky ones – and more on the many millions still stuck there. Solve that problem and the refugee crisis will itself disappear.

    I also dislike the usual tone of the article and first three comments, which all seem to suggest that xenophobia and hostility to migrants is commonplace in Britain. This is not my experience of living my whole life in one of the most racially diverse parts of the country, and seeing people getting along 99.9% of the time. If Britain is really that hostile to immigrants, there’s a real mystery in why we’ve allowed so many millions of them to come here.

  • Richard Stallard 29th Aug '15 - 10:28am

    “If this country took their fair share of these people, we would only be extending a lifeline to around 4000 people.”

    According to figures from the European Commission, between January and March this year, 7,335 people made first time asylum claims in the UK. If we assume that remains constant, about 30,000 will have done so by the end of the year (about seven times more than Caron’s call for 4000).

    There is therefore no need for us to make any special arrangements to “accept” asylum seekers; more than sufficient to meet Caron’s requirement of 4000 are making their way here of their own accord.

  • Duncan,
    Unfortunately language evolves and in this case the word “migrant” is being used by press and politicians to mean “person who has no right to be in Europe, especially Britain”. Taking the view that we should all be using the word more correctly is not helpful, I am afraid.

    In this case Caron is 100% right and we should applaud her. Most of the “migrants” are refugees and if we called them that then they would get more sympathy. So we Liberal Democrats should start using that correct usage in talking to people and social media.

    Jayne is also correct that the demonising of people by language is never accidental. One person’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. We may think that our Liberal Democracies in the west are free of propaganda, but in fact it is just as rife as it is in many countries we love to criticise, just less directly state-organised.

  • The UK has done more than most other European countries to destabilise the middle east and afghanistan, but other EU states are doing more to take in those who are desperate to escape from the turmoil in which they find themselves.

    Liberal Democrat policy should be in concert with ALDE Parties around the EU, putting forward a coordinated response in which EU states fairly share reception of refugees.

  • Over 2000 deaths linked to benefit withdrawal and no massive coverage. There has been more for the unfortunate people who died in the lorry.

  • Anne? 29th Aug ’15 – 11:25am ……………Over 2000 deaths linked to benefit withdrawal and no massive coverage. There has been more for the unfortunate people who died in the lorry….

    Sadly it is the same morality in both instances……The disabled and refugees have the stigma of ‘somehow’ being deemed of less worth…..The mainly right wing media have fed the belief and the “monster” they’ve created needs continuous feeding to excess…The despicable Katie Hopkins is just at the ‘sharp end’….

  • AndrewMcC, by trying to stop people using the word ‘migrant’ you are also trying to create a language change too. Migration is a phenomenon that has political ramifications and is a hot topic. Trying to stop commentators calling people who migrate ‘migrants’ is even more futile. So let’s reclaim the word as a positive and let’s have migrants feel pride rather than shame.

  • David Evershed 29th Aug '15 - 3:06pm

    Anne says “Over 2000 deaths are linked to benefit withdrawal”.

    Following an FOI request, the DWP has released figures which show that 556 people on benefits die per week.

    Because the number of people on benefits is so high, there are bound to be a lot dying regardless of whether their benefits are withdrawn or not.

    It has not yet been shown that there is any cause and effect between benefit withdrawal and an increased rate of deaths. No proper study has yet been done which shows that deaths ARE LINKED to benefit withdrawal.

    The FOI request revealed the following:

    The total number of deaths involving claimants of Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance and Severe Disablement Allowance – between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 is 81,140, including 50,580 (ESA claimants) and 30,560 (IB/SDA claimants). All figures are rounded up to the nearest 10.

    Add this to the 10,600 deaths that were already known between January and November 2011 and you have 91,740.

    Information for ESA claimants shows:
    ■7,540 deaths while claims were being assessed, bringing the known total to 9,740.
    ■7,200 deaths in the work-related activity group, bringing the known total to 8,500.
    ■32,530 deaths in the support group, bringing the known total to 39,630.
    ■And 3,320 deaths in which the claimant was not in receipt of any benefit payment and is therefore marked as “unknown”.

    The total number of claimants who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time and of those the number with a WCA decision of “fit for work”, between December 2011 to February 2014 was 2,650 (2,380 ESA, 270 IB/SDA).

    And the total number of individuals who flowed off ESA, IB or SDA whose date of death was at the same time with a completed appeal following a WCA decision of “fit for work”, Great Britain: December 2011 to February 2014 was 1,360 (1,340 ESA, 20 IB/SDA).

    The new numbers suggest the average number of deaths per day between January 2011 and February 2014 was around 79.5 – 556 per week.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Aug '15 - 3:07pm

    We need to accept people, but have a proper foreign policy alongside it. Cameron has a flawed foreign policy, only really interested in trade and ISIS, which caused Jonathan Eyal from a leading British security think tank to pen this article about him:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/02/david-cameron-carpetbagger-national-embarrassment

    In his defence it must be hard managing the Conservative Party, but still, we should lead the way on the migration crisis and foreign policy. Perhaps even working with Think Tanks such as the Royal United Services Institute and charities too.

  • Of cause the other solution to the ‘migrant’ crisis is to occupy a few countries…

    Given so many people are fleeing to western countries it is obvious they would rather live under west style rule than whatever passes as ‘home’ rule… Yes there are issues, but do LibDems believe it is right to let the likes of ISIS/Daesh do whatever they like outside of our borders?

  • @Eddie
    Agree that a better foreign policy is crucial.

    However we need to recognise that western foreign policy is far from being the only reason why the region is such a quagmire. Because Iraq was such a disaster, one of the consequences has been that it’s become fashionable to blame the west almost entirely for everything that’s going wrong. In fact, according to a UN report, the conflict in Syria is at least in part down to the centuries-old Sunni/Shia conflict – the same conflict that is largely responsible for most of the mass murders that still take place in Iraq.

    We need concerted effort from both the west and the Muslim world to sort this out. Accepting more refugees – while obviously the right thing to do – cannot possibly be the main solution because it does nothing to help the people still stuck there, especially those who are not young, bold or enterprising enough to get themselves to Europe.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Aug '15 - 3:38pm

    @ Stuart,
    This is a major issue that requires political will, leadership and political solutions, not the opinions of a few Liberal Democrat Posters.

    Economic globalisation has opened up the world which means people can move across the world like never before. We can no longer hunker down and think, I’m all right Jack.

    I have just been on a bus in a non- diverse area and a woman was giving her opinion to anyone whether they wanted to hear them or not. As I left the bus, I asked her how desperate she would need to be to take the risks that the ‘people’ who she had shown disgust for, were taking. Another woman then offered the words, ‘we are very lucky here aren’t we, they must be desperate’.

    The irony is that it is in ‘white’ areas such as my own that one finds more fear of difference rather than in the diverse areas of London where some of my family live. But I do agree with you that we are a liberal, tolerant nation. I just want it to stay that way. One should never let one’s guard down.

    For some, ‘immigrant’, ‘migrant’, ‘asylum seeker’, ‘refugee’ are all much the same thing, just interchangeable words, and are not used in a neutral sense, they are becoming loaded. This needs to be nipped in the bud.

  • Stuart 29th Aug ’15 – 3:17pm……However we need to recognise that western foreign policy is far from being the only reason why the region is such a quagmire. Because Iraq was such a disaster, one of the consequences has been that it’s become fashionable to blame the west almost entirely for everything that’s going wrong. In fact, according to a UN report, the conflict in Syria is at least in part down to the centuries-old Sunni/Shia conflict – the same conflict that is largely responsible for most of the mass murders that still take place in Iraq…………

    When your neighbours are ‘squabbling’ it’s not the best idea to sell them weapons and even worse to get involved….The trickle of refugees prior to overt western interference in Iraq/Libya/Syria has turned into a flood…..Cameron’s visits and promises to a post Gadhafi Libya have proved to be just another of his broken pledges… If Iraq was a mistake (and few doubt that) it was an even bigger mistake to repeat the error in Libya and expect a different outcome…As for the proposed Syrian adventure??? Thank heaven for Labour and sensible Tories…

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Aug '15 - 3:42pm

    I agree Stuart the problems of the region cannot just be blamed on western foreign policy. Libya was already collapsing, which makes it different from Iraq and we pretty much had nothing to do with the start of the Syrian civil war (although I’m far from an expert).

    I have also felt that some of the problems with Iraq are due to Gordon Brown and Barack Obama pulling us out too quickly. Some kind of proper UN security force should have been put in place, rather than trying to say sorry by pulling out when the country was still unstable.

    Anyway all this is getting a bit off topic. I don’t mind calling asylum seekers migrants, but the bigger problem I see is the “war mentality” of the public where what would have shocked us a few years ago when it comes to migrant tragedies are no longer shocking us and almost being accepted as inevitable.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Aug '15 - 3:47pm

    @ Anne,
    I would say that there has been more coverage for the elevation of more unelected people to the House of rogues, scoundrels , political donors and failed politicians.

    Both of the issues that you mention deserved greater coverage. There was a poster on here who often quoted the words of John Donne’s ‘No man is an Island”. I can’t remember who it was, but the words are very appropriate to the issues that you raised.

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “This is a major issue that requires political will, leadership and political solutions, not the opinions of a few Liberal Democrat Posters.”

    However, without the opinions of the public being made known (via posters or other means) then the issues won’t get to the top of the politicians “to do” list.

  • Stephen Campbell 29th Aug '15 - 5:05pm

    @David Evershed:”Following an FOI request, the DWP has released figures which show that 556 people on benefits die per week. ”

    An FOI request made years ago, which the coalition government spent millions of pounds of public money fighting every step of the way in the courts. IDS himself said in Parliament “we don’t keep those figures”. A few days later, Cameron said “we DO keep the figures and they will be released”. No penalty, of course, for IDS saying things which are not true in the Commons. So much for the promised “most open government ever”!

    “It has not yet been shown that there is any cause and effect between benefit withdrawal and an increased rate of deaths.”

    Yeah, because if you take away the means of subsistence from people who are too ill to work, I’m sure they will all be 100% fine. Silly me! Here I was thinking that if someone was found “fit for work” and then died shortly thereafter, the decision made by the DWP/ATOS that they were “fit for work” was probably wrong. I’m sure those who are ill (mentally or physically) are totally able to deal with the stress and hunger of having no money just as well as the fully able-bodied.

    The way some Lib Dems try to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the monster many of your MPs voted for and several people on this site supported (the sanctions regime, the more strict WCA) is shocking. The manner in which some Lib Dems speak so coldly, tehcnocratic even, concerning this whole situation is quite offensive.

    The term “bleeding-heart Liberal” definitely needs to be retired!

  • expats:

    In fact, according to a UN report, the conflict in Syria is at least in part down to the centuries-old Sunni/Shia conflict

    Of course it is, but it is also obvious that the invasion of Iraq destabilised the region, with considerable movement of Iraqis to Syria and Jordan. The power of Iran became more entrenched and involved in a proxy Sunni – Shia war in Iraq, fermenting a fundamentalism that had been absent or suppressed. The warring factions have spread to Syria.

    It is problematic that there are refugees from both sides, carrying a fear of infighting and fundamentalism transferred into Europe. Even when those escaping are ready to turn their back on the conflict, this does not necessarily extend to the second generation, who seem to take up the religious cause in a misplaced expression of a sort of romanticism.

    It is very difficult to know how to respond. So long as people keep their religion to themselves it is unproblematic, but it is in the nature of most religions not to do so. Worse still is that many religions have and continue to institutionalise deprivation of human rights, such as subjugation of women, mutilation, forced marriage and a patriarchal hierarchy that indoctrinates a message that ‘others’ are not worthy of respect. This is not just an Islamic phenomenon, we do not have to go back so far into history to see similar patterns within different strands of Christianity.

  • Julie Maxon 29th Aug '15 - 6:16pm

    Well said Caron.

    Language is important and needs to be used appropriately. Unfortunately much of our media is using the term ‘migrant’ to generate negative headlines and commentary to fuel the anti-immigration hysteria.

    @Duncan, whilst I agree that ‘migrants’ should be treated positively and as you say helped to feel pride instead of shame, I would still argue for the use of ‘refugees’ as appropriate – as in the case of those fleeing Syria, for example. There is a difference and I believe we should support campaigns such as #ForShame to get our media to report accurately.

    At the end of the day everyone, whether a refugee fleeing a war zone, or a migrant choosing to move to a different place, no matter who they are or where they are, they should be treated with dignity, respect and compassion.

    Despite the headlines and what the Mail/Express would have us believe, people in the UK do care – as evidenced by the fact that the UK was the second biggest donor to the #buypens appeal for the Syrian refugee pictured on Twitter selling pens in Beirut.

    There are complex issues around the world contributing to the current refugee crisis and building fences is not the answer. Until we get a co-ordinated humanitarian response in Europe – including from the British government – the appalling scenes of suffering will continue. In the meantime, I agree with Caron that Tim Farron is doing a great job but we all need to do our bit as well.

  • When I read this. I was offended. I migrated to Australia when I was 4 years old. I proudly stand by the fact that I’m an immigrant… in fact Australia wouldn’t be the great country it is today without us migrants. To me the word migrant holds no negative connotations, and only identifies me as one of many people who left home for a better life elsewhere.

    Now saying that, the current crisis that the EU faces today is definitely saddening and could have definitely been dealt with better. But to start up some politically correct understanding that calling a migrant, ‘migrant’, as derogatory, definitely sums up your priorities in the matter.

    If you really want to make a difference, maybe something productive would be a bit better than a word you marked as dehumanising. Dehumanising where. Where am I suppose to feel dehumanised?

  • Richard Underhill 29th Aug '15 - 8:38pm

    By Caron Lindsay | Sat 29th August 2015 – 9:09 am
    A very strong moral and emotional case, but please use arguments that support the case, such as Articles 2,3 & 4 HRA are absolute and are considered simultaneously with an asylum claim under the 1951 UN convention on the status of refugees as amended by the 1967 protocol.

  • Richard Underhill 29th Aug '15 - 8:48pm

    if a country, such as Turkey, signs the 1951 convention and does not also subscribe to the 1967 protocol it is committing to help refugees in the context of “events in Europe before 1951” which means that it does not need to provide refugee status to people fleeing Asian neighbours now.
    All full members of the EU subscribe in full.
    Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan receive numbers of people fleeing the war/s in neighbouring countries in seven figure numbers, which is the usual fate of neighbours around the world.
    They want to come to EU countries because of safety.
    There is no limit in the 1951 United Nations convention on numbers and there should not be.
    Please do not enter into a debate about numbers lest that become the debate.

  • Julie Maxon 29th Aug '15 - 9:43pm

    @Mila, I am genuinely sorry that you felt offended. As you say, Australia wouldn’t be the place it is without the people who moved there – neither would Britain. Immigrants everywhere should feel proud – as you do. Unfortunately some parts of our media are pushing an ongoing negative rhetoric in their use of language which is not acceptable. Organisations such as MSF and UNHCR are also stressing the importance of correct use of language and are highlighting differences between migrants and refugees.
    I didn’t think of this when I read the article and commented earlier, but re-reading it now and looking at it afresh with your comment in mind Mila, whilst no offence would have been intended perhaps the title of this article could be worded differently – any thoughts Caron?

  • Paul In Wokingham 29th Aug '15 - 10:43pm

    From The Huff Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/07/31/daily-mail-1938-jews_n_7909954.html talking about the notorious Daily Mail headline “German Jews pouring into this country”.

    From today’s Dirty Digger Express: “Migrants Swarm To Britain”.

    Cameron’s words have created a situation in which it is now acceptable to use dehumanizing language to describe people in desperate circumstances.

    We all know Godwin’s Law. But sometimes it’s wrong.

  • Paul,

    Yes, the Daily Mail likes to keep up its proud tradition of tolerance….

    Mila: Tim Farron has said numerous times “Immigration is a blessing not a curse” Liberal Democrats really do appreciate the role migrants of all types have played in this country (you do not say what you think of current Australian policy however).

    However in the current debate “migrant” is short for “economic migrant” It is a term that excludes refugees from war in the minds of the people who use it, not one that includes them as Duncan would like to think. Cameron talks about “migrants” to emphasise that those people in Calais have no right to come into Britain or claim asylum here. And he links it with other pejorative words like “swarm”.

    So when Syrians suffocating in a container are called “migrants” the implication is that it is somehow their own fault that they got into that situation, so we need not feel much sympathy for them. Whereas the reality is that they are fleeing an unspeakable situation in their home country and just trying to find some way to get themselves and their families to safety.

    I don’t mind calling economic migrants what they are if it is true. And I don’t blame them at all for wanting a better life. But where we are talking about refugees, lets use the more precise word.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 7:46am

    @ Caron.
    If it is emotion that drives you, keep it up. I have always found that emotion is the spur to action. I am more worried by the emotions such as fear and panic that are being whipped up, than any emotional display from yourself. The one thing that comes over in all your articles ( and I don’t agree with some of your views), is that you are a very decent human being.

    And yes, they are refugees until proven otherwise. They are people who have not chosen to leave their country as those who emigrated to Australia did, they are people who are fleeing their country because their lives and the lives of their children are under threat.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 7:57am

    @ Roger Roberts,
    Full marks to Barry Malone, and indeed to you , sir.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 8:12am

    @Chris-sh,
    Given the divergence of opinion, even of here, it makes me glad that I never became a politician!

    What is offered on pages like this is often just the opinion of a self selected group, one person’s carries no more weight than another. Although it is interesting, I hope that Tim Farron, the Leader of the Green Party, and the new leader of the Labour Party, whoever that might be, along with other countries involved, make their decisions on a sounder foundation than opinion, no matter how many people hold a particular one.

    I don’t like the way that many opinions are shaped in this country.

  • @Julie Maxton. Thank you for your reply it really alot to me. I’m so glad you atleast see from my point of view. As hopefully others do too.

    Yes I think I may have taken the article out of context and for that I do apologise. It came across as slanderous to people who are rather proud to be called a migrant/immigrant.

    I think carons message is the right one, in the wrong way. Thanks for clearing it up for me though Julie, much appreciated.

  • Really meant alot to me*

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 10:21am

    By Caron Lindsay | Sat 29th August 2015 – 9:09 am
    There must be some barristers in the party who can help to address both problems and solutions.
    As Neil Kinnock was recently saying about the Labour Party …

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “If it is emotion that drives you, keep it up. I have always found that emotion is the spur to action.”

    While I agree with this to a large extent, I believe that emotion can also lead to poor and unfair judgments when it comes to immigration. Hence the emotional, rather than rational, way in which far too many people are accused of xenophobia or racism when – if you look at it carefully – they are only calling for exactly the same kinds of controls that Lib Dems themselves often put in their election manifestos.

    To give an example, there was an article on LDV last year (I think) where the author accused Ed Milliband in very strong terms of being “racist” because he had made a speech in which he said he could understand why people were concerned about their communities changing “too fast” due to sudden large-scale immigration. Miliband’s “racism” was contrasted with Nick Clegg’s welcoming attitude to immigrants. So I Googled Clegg’s recent speeches on immigration and found that he had made exactly the same point as Miliband; in fact he had used virtually identical words! The speeches were so similar they could have been written by the same person.

    Of course this is partly explained by good old partisan hypocrisy, but the author was making an emotional response to Miliband’s speech that was unfair and wrong. The only reason he hadn’t made the same response to Clegg’s speech was because of the colour of Clegg’s party membership card.

    We need more rationality and fairness in the immigration debate and a little less resort to raw emotion.

    For instance, I don’t think it helps when Caron writes things like this :-

    “Had those people been British, there would have been wall to wall news coverage of the tragedy for days. Already it’s slipping down the pecking order in the news bulletins along with the news of the drowning of another 200 people in the Mediterranean.”

    In fact the plight of the migrants in Austria has generated immense news coverage for three days now – and was still the top story on the BBC TV news this morning.

  • ………………………A gang of suspected British people-smugglers is masquerading as UN officials in a migrant camp in France, the Observer can reveal. Migrants at the camp in Dunkirk claim Britons have told them they are working for the organisation as they facilitate attempts to reach England………..

    Just when you think you’ve seen the worst in humanity something proves you wrong…

  • Peter Bancroft 30th Aug '15 - 12:21pm

    Good article. If we’re going to be really pedantic on language though, we’re talking about asylum seekers. People only become refugees once their application has been approved – and refugees are much better looked after.

  • @ Mila, glad my reply was helpful and I’m sure you’ll find others can see this from your point of view too. I’m glad you shared your feelings with us. It is a very emotive issue at the moment because of what is going on around the world, but we need to keep listening to each other and – perhaps the lesson here – constantly think about our own language as we try to fight the prejudice and negative messages in our media/from our government.

  • Caron rightly points out that Scotland could easily take on 4000 people. Unfortunately it can’t because it is tied to UK immigration policy. Credit to Caron for pointing out yet another reason why liberal minded people should support independence for Scotland.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 2:58pm

    @ Stuart,
    I don’t think that we have a great deal to argue about, but the day that the images of fathers’ clutching their distraught children as they sit in a dinghy at Kos , or the faces of children as tear gas is fired on the Greek /Macedonian border, or the thought of families suffocating in frozen chicken lorries, doesn’t make me weep, will be the day I will start to hate myself.

    We don’t know what motivated the people at Calais to leave their homes, but the answer is for politicians to find out and deal the the problem appropriately. In an earlier article, Tim Farron spoke very calmly and rationally on what he sees as the way forward. From what I have learned about him so far, he would work with politicians of good will, and of all political hues to shape a fair solution to an appalling crisis.

    Those that denigrate another politician when they are actually in agreement with that politician and her/ his views or policies make me angry too. They just diminish politics and credibility in our politicians as a whole. Silly Billys.

  • suzanne fletcher 30th Aug '15 - 5:33pm

    Getting the language right is crucial in how people perceive an issue. many years ago “spastic” was used to accurately describe people with sasticity, and “handicapped” for people who had ahandicapp in being able to do things they wanted. Both words became one’s of abuse and derision and so have been dropped and “people with disapbility” is now used.
    “Asylum” was becoming a word of abuse too, and that is why the organisation I chair is accurately called “Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary”. it describes those coming here to seek asylum, and those who are accepted as such, as seeking sanctuary.
    Whilst I agree with Duncan Stott, and like his idea of a “Migrant Pride” march, maybe the time has come to stop using that word.
    However as Peter Bancroft rightly points out, people are not refugees until their claim for asylum has been accepted. so whilst I agree with the thrust of Caron’s article, it does need to take this into account.
    it may help to look at the Refugee Council definition, and make sure that we use those terms when talking about people who come here from elsehwere.
    Definitions

    Refugee

    “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

    The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

    In the UK, a person is officially a refugee when they have their claim for asylum accepted by the government.

    Asylum Seeker:

    A person who has left their country of origin and formally applied for asylum in another country but whose application has not yet been concluded.

    Refused asylum seeker

    A person whose asylum application has been unsuccessful and who has no other claim for protection awaiting a decision. Some refused asylum seekers voluntarily return home, others are forcibly returned and for some it is not safe or practical for them to return until conditions in their country change.

    Economic migrant

    Someone who has moved to another country to work. Refugees are not economic migrants.

  • Richard Stallard 30th Aug '15 - 5:55pm

    “………………………A gang of suspected British people-smugglers is masquerading as UN officials in a migrant camp in France, the Observer can reveal. Migrants at the camp in Dunkirk claim Britons have told them they are working for the organisation as they facilitate attempts to reach England………..
    Just when you think you’ve seen the worst in humanity something proves you wrong…”

    It’s not at all surprising – the whole thing is a huge bean-feast for organised crime.

    All the criminals are doing is taking advantage of those nations who were daft enough to sign up to Schengen. They were warned but didn’t take any notice and now they’re paying the price. Thank goodness we didn’t, and can therefore still exercise some control (if/when the government has the backbone!). That will come the next large-scale atrocity is committed by an immigrant (or a BINO) and at that point public attitudes will harden irreversibly.

    .

  • Julie Maxon 30th Aug '15 - 6:34pm

    @Richard Stallard
    The criminals are taking advantage of vulnerable desperate people.
    I think your final comment is extremely offensive. If @ Mila is still reading this, I hope she will ignore you.

  • Nom de Plume 30th Aug '15 - 6:54pm

    @suzanne fletcher

    Your point on getting language right is correct. The problem, however, is a practical one, not a matter of formal definitions. There will be many thousands of people from the Syria/Iraq/Libya who fulfill the criteria of the 1951 United Nations Convention. Simply watch the news. What do you do when hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people from that part of the World apply for a asylum? How do you distinguish genuine refugees from other applicants? Let alone processing all the claims. What do you do with the rejected claims? The system fails. A different approach is needed.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 7:09pm

    @ Nom de plume,
    What other approach are you suggesting?

  • Richard Stallard 30th Aug '15 - 7:20pm

    @Julie Maxton
    Do you not think that if there is another Lee Rigby type incident, the public’s attitude will harden still further and make it even more difficult to get a solution to the problem? I certainly do.

  • Nom de Plume 30th Aug '15 - 7:32pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    There are no easy options. I have expressed my views on a previous thread. https://www.libdemvoice.org/tim-farron-in-scotland-47272.html#comments. Any other, better suggestions are welcome.

  • Richard Stallard: What do you mean by:

    those nations who were daft enough to sign up to Schengen?

    Do you have any concept of land borders? What is your idea? Israeli type walls all over Europe?

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 8:06pm

    @ Nom de plume,
    You offered up 3 possible options as you saw it, and were dismissive of the first. What approach are YOU in favour of?

  • Nom de Plume 30th Aug '15 - 8:33pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield

    The second. Unfortunately it will not happen. Britain is no longer an imperial power and the US and Europe are useless. My fear is the rise of extremism, especially if IS is not stopped. I hear terrible echoes of the early twentieth century.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug '15 - 9:44pm

    This is a discussion about language and I have to show my ignorance. What is a BINO?

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 11:25pm

    suzanne fletcher 30th Aug ’15 – 5:33pm Please do not use the word “sanctuary” It is misleading. People are seeking safety.
    “Refugee” yes, this is the definition from the 1951 convention, but is often used in vaguer language, so it is better to state whether some is a recognised refugee,
    “Asylum Seeker:” This definition does not include the concept of a “refugee sur place” (in the French) who has sought asylum, nor does it define whether the asylum claim was abandoned by the asylum seeker, refused by a convention country, nor whether there is a right of appeal against refusal.
    “Refused asylum seeker A person whose asylum application has been unsuccessful and who has no other claim for protection awaiting a decision. Some refused asylum seekers voluntarily return home, others are forcibly returned and for some it is not safe or practical for them to return until conditions in their country change.”
    This does not make sense. If it is not safe to return to their country of origin why was their claim refused or their appeal, dismissed. It also excludes those for whom it is duifficult to obtain a travel document.
    “Economic migrant Someone who has moved to another country to work. Refugees are not economic migrants.”
    No, you do not understand. A refugee may be rich or poor, which is irrelevant to the asylum claim What is relevant is a well founded fear of persecution for a convention reason. Remember that the 1951 convention is a consequence of “events happening in Europe before 1951” including Nazism. When Hitler’s SA thugs were breaking the windows of jewish homes and businesses he was denying them a means of making a living in the hope that they would emigrate or starve to death. Idi Amin’s actions against Ugandan Asians also contained an economic element. The legal obligations of the international community are triggered by persecution.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 11:35pm

    Richard Stallard 30th Aug ’15 – 5:55pm Jayne Mansfield 30th Aug ’15 – 9:44pm
    The UK is in the Schengen agreement for the very good reason that we are in favour of police co-operation with our democratic neighbours. please consider which nation states are members of INTERPOL and whether any of them support violence against the UK or British citizens. We also have documents in a common format. We have an open border with the Irish Republic on a bilateral basis. We would like an open border between Gibraltar and Spain because of daily commuting across the border.
    If BINO means a naturalised British citiven please make yourself clear, if not please say what you mean.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 11:44pm

    Caron Lindsay | Sat 29th August 2015 – 9:09 am
    Liberal Democrats want to treat people as individuals. The 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees does so.
    For instance if someone has left a dangerous country and married someone from a safe country he/she may have the possibility of returning to the safe country of the spouse. Although a country may be at war there may be safe areas in that country to which the applicant can safely go. Please read the convention and take advice about legal rulings in the UK as they apply to current applicants. Otherwise please make clear whether legislation or executive action is sought.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Aug '15 - 11:55pm

    Caron Lindsay | Sat 29th August 2015 – 9:09 am
    There are occasions or circumstances where entire groups are affected, such as Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan sharing facilities in a way that would not be necessary in other countries. If so, an Immigration tribunal may rule accordingly.
    Please also recognise that ISIS does not recognise the Iraq-Syria border, that Kurds are present in Iraq, Sria, Turkey and other adjoining countries and that information is also supplied by the governments of many countries, including UK, USA, Canada, etc.

  • Richard Stallard 31st Aug '15 - 5:22am

    BINO – British In Name Only
    i.e. People living here/born here who have/are entitled to a British passport but who are using that status as a cover and are actually working against us – sleeper terrorist cells, fifth column and the like.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Aug '15 - 6:29am

    @ Richard Stallard,
    It is customary to write a term in full before using acronyms or abbreviations. You should not assume that others are conversant with a term that would only be understandable to people that you normally consort with.

    @ Richard Underhill,
    The EU are now intending to hold emergency talks on the refugee crisis. It will address the need for a list of safe countries etc.

    Your input is much valued by me, but sometimes rather over my head. It is a pity that you do not write an article and submit it to Liberal Democrat Voice.

    The crisis is one of such magnitude that I do not understand why other countries are not included in discussions. People are seeking refuge internally by moving to other parts of a country deemed safer, and also to neighbouring countries, the turmoil is not just an EU problem, and yet it seems so often to be portrayed as such.

  • John Tilley 31st Aug '15 - 7:12am

    “What do you do when hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people from that part of the World apply for a asylum? ”

    It is sometimes interesting to note the scare stories based on BIG NUMBERS.

    Hundreds of thousands of people leave football stadia at the end of a match every Saturday afternoon. Within an hour or so most of them have melted into the surroundings.
    Millions of people travel on public transport in London every day. People cope with that as if it was a perfectly normal part of life.

    Offering a home and safety from war and certain death to people from Syria is in fact a perfectly normal human reaction.
    Why demonise those people by waving BIG NUMBERS to scare the less thoughtful ?

    Over the last 70 years Germany ha staken in millions of people from elsewhere. Take a look at the German economy and German society and explain if you can how Germany has suffered as a result.

  • Tsar Nicholas 31st Aug '15 - 8:23am

    The dehumanising began when the west decided to attack the various countries from where these people are fleeing – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria.

    The time to protest for the Lib Dems was when they were in government in the spring of 2011, but they were silent.

  • Richard Stallard 30th Aug ’15 – 5:55pm .“expats…..A gang of suspected British people-smugglers is masquerading as UN officials in a migrant camp in France, the Observer can reveal. Migrants at the camp in Dunkirk claim Britons have told them they are working for the organisation as they facilitate attempts to reach England………..
    Just when you think you’ve seen the worst in humanity something proves you wrong…”

    …………It’s not at all surprising – the whole thing is a huge bean-feast for organised crime……All the criminals are doing is taking advantage of those nations who were daft enough to sign up to Schengen. They were warned but didn’t take any notice and now they’re paying the price. Thank goodness we didn’t, and can therefore still exercise some control (if/when the government has the backbone!). That will come the next large-scale atrocity is committed by an immigrant (or a BINO) and at that point public attitudes will harden irreversibly…………

    Your last two sentences seem to imply you are almost ‘hoping’ for such an atrocity to shock the government into yet more oppressive legislation…

  • My hunch is that BINO is an acronym only generally recognised in NF or UKIP circles.

  • Nom de Plume 31st Aug '15 - 9:31am

    @ John Tilley

    I am not demonizing anyone. I have no problem with Britain fulfilling its obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention. The Tories probably do. The problems remain, as previously stated, practical ones. Please read my previous posts.

    Numbers do matter. It is true that large countries can absorb large numbers of immigrants. The net immigrant number for the UK this year is three hundred thousand. Mostly EU and Chinese. Again, no problems. Germany has absorbed millions of immigrants over seventy years. Mainly Turks and EU. Some integration problems with Turks. The goal must be integration. “Multikulti ist gescheitert” , to quote Angela Merkel. This is where the problems start. The population of Germany is about 80 million and the expected number of asylum seekers is expected to be 800 000 for this year alone. One percent in one year of total population of difficult to integrate immigrants. It can not go on. At some point the fabric of society breaks. The result is extremism. You do not take this problem seriously enough. Possibly ignorance. Extremism comes from two sources one is the specific nature of islamic extremism – see IS and terrorist attacks. The other is local. At the moment the problem is not evident in european national politics – except in Greece (lots of immigrants). I partially draw my conclusions from reading the comments sections of online european newspapers. It would make UKIP or worse proud. Certainly, these comments are not representative, but the tone and nature has changed in the last year. The number of such comments has also notably increased. These problems must be dealt with before they appear in national politics. To try and fix the problem after the fact is to act far too late. Lets see what happens with the French elections.

  • Nom de Plume 31st Aug '15 - 9:42am

    @ Tsar Nicholas 8.23am

    I have repeatedly protested on this site on these issues. The Party protested against Iraq in 2003. The elite will not listen.

  • @John Tilley – “Hundreds of thousands of people leave football stadia at the end of a match every Saturday afternoon. Within an hour or so most of them have melted into the surroundings.”

    This not normally a problem as these people have homes to go to and a transport system to get them there. However, these numbers do become a problem when transport services fail for whatever reason (eg. the storm across SE England in 1987, the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull); but even then it is only temporary as contingencies are made to enable people to travel on to their destination and homes.

    However, what we are seeing is hundreds of thousands of people on the move with neither a home to go to or with any prospect, in a few days or weeks, of being able to return to their starting point ie. ‘homes’. This is a very different proposition to your typical football fixture…

  • John Tilley 31st Aug '15 - 2:21pm

    Roland
    Let me give you another example of the UK coping with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people.
    In 1945 hundreds of thousands of service men and women returned to the UK from theatres of war all over the world.

    My father was one of them, having spent a long time in Burma. He had no home (having joined the army in 1930 as a 16 year old. Many people were homeless because of bombing.

    The response of the UK authorities was to provide homes. Some will say that the authorities did not do enough and did not do it quickly enough. There was however a generally accepted belief that providing homes was the solution to the problem of hundreds of thousands of people needing homes. Nowadays the establishment’s answers seems to be to turn people away and pretend that we could not possibly provide accommodation. Of course we could if there was the political wlll. It would also be a heck of a lot cheaper than the cost of renewing Trident. It just boils down to what your political aims are. I would prefer to look after people in need rather add to the world’s stock of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Only a few weeks ago, John Tilley was commenting on LDV about the seriousness of the housing crisis. Now he’s suggesting we can absorb large numbers of people from Syria with such ease that nobody will even notice.

    People are right to raise practical concerns; it would be better to address those concerns sensibly than simply dismiss the people raising them as xenophobes or demonisers. Letting more people in is clearly the right thing to do, but if there isn’t a big effort to improve housing and public services to accommodate them, then the end result will be more people flocking to the likes of UKIP.

    We need to act with the head as well as the heart here, is all I’m saying. Let more people in, but at the same time, make sure there are places for everybody to live, and work on improving the situations in the refugees’ countries as well.

  • @John Tilley
    “hundreds of thousands of service men and women returned to the UK from theatres of war all over the world.”

    And then it came to pass that all was well with the world and many were overwhelmed from the sweet smell of roses . Alternatively ….

    The problems were not just housing (which actually took many many years to resolve and many of the houses were prefab). These servicemen (and it was mostly men) came back to a country that they didn’t recognise, they often felt resentment as no one seemed to understand what they had been through (plus many of them would also be suffering from PTSD – something not really understood at the time). Meanwhile the civilian population felt resentment as many of these servicemen didn’t seem to have any understanding of what they had been through (the bombings, continual shortages etc). Divorce rates went sky high (e.g. circa 60,000 in 1947) in the post war years.

    You provide an example of something that should have been simple (the reintegration of our own people) and cite that as an example of why it should be possible to bring in hundreds of thousands of people who have had no previous connection with this country. Many of these people will also be suffering from PTSD and will need a lot of help.

    So yes, lets follow the post war example and build 10s of thousands of prefab houses. But what about the hospitals, schools and the rest of the infrastructure required, i.e. how do we actually look after these people rather than just dumping them on future sink estates and expect the local authorities to cope some how?

  • John Tilley 1st Sep '15 - 7:32am

    Chris_sh 31st Aug ’15 – 9:03pm
    “…You provide an example of something that should have been simple (the reintegration of our own people) ”

    I always worry that this is what’s beneath the surface in this sort of discussion — “our own people”.

    I do not want to put words into your mouth if this is not your own view.
    I am sure you will say if it is not your view.

    Is the argument for “our own people” just xenophobia?

    So when there was an exodus of white or what at the time were called “anglo-indian” people from India after independence that was OK because they were “our own people”.
    Or similarly through the 1960s when “our own people” decided to go “back home” when various African countries became independent — a “home” that their great-grand parents might have known in Queen Victoria’s time but they had never visited.
    Even as recently as 1990 there was an unreported “white flight” from South Africa after the Apartheid regime was beaten.
    Those arrivals were OK because they were “our own people”.

    0f course in the UK in 1945 it was in fact not just “our own people” who returned from the armed services after fighting in world war two. Check the number of people from Poland. Many were from other Eastern European countries escaping Soviet expansionism.
    There were people from ‘The Empire’ who of course only counted as “our own people” if they were white and many of them were not white.

    This continued after the 1940s — it was fine if you were Germaine Greer, or Clive James or even Rolf Harris. Not so fine if you were the parents of Benjamin Zephaniah or Lenny Henry. Which of those famous people were “our own people”?

  • John Tilley 1st Sep '15 - 7:48am

    Stuart 31st Aug ’15 – 3:43pm
    “Only a few weeks ago, John Tilley was commenting on LDV about the seriousness of the housing crisis. ”

    Yes of course because it is a symptom of the same disease of “making excuses”.

    We have a housing “crisis” because there is not the political wit nor will to do something about it.
    We have a migrant “crisis” because there is not the political wit nor will to do something about it.

    We can all sit back complacently whilst the government spends £ Billions on Trident but we cannot do anything about housing or refugees. Other people may have their own excuse of course.

    Rushing around lke headess chickens repeating headlines from The Mail and The Express Is not always based in xenophobia and racism, sometimes there are other excuses.

  • nigel hunter 1st Sep '15 - 9:53am

    I have come late to this article but have a few thoughts on it . Refugees do flee war . Would you like to stay in a war zone with or without your family? We all wish for a good life but circumstances get in the way. You say Scotland could house thousands. How about specially constructed “Holiday Camps ” could be constructed to house them It produces jobs for Brits to build or even the refugees to build a sense of safety and they could be checked for work qualifications and absorbed into the wider community and or after hostilities end to go back home. We in the UK can say we have done something constructive and send a positive note to the world that we still have tolerance and the moral ground. I notice that the refugees are being taken to Germany who will reap the economcal benefits and the moral ground things that people will remember somebody who helped them through a crisis.

  • @John Tilley
    To quote your own words:

    “In 1945 hundreds of thousands of service men and women returned to the UK ”

    No mention of Poles, anglo-Indian or any other nationality attempting to settle in the post war period, of course there wouldn’t be as they would have lived in Poland/India/Where ever prior to the War.

    Now, I do not want to put words into your mouth if this is not your own view.
    I am sure you will say if it is not your view.

    Once your argument was proven to be mistaken, you then widened the scope in an apparent attempt to play the Xenephobe/rascist card. This is a real worry, the attempt to stifle proper debate on issues that concern the population always seems to be a step to extremism. In fact it can also lead to unjust wars if similar tactics are used, look how the Labour Government acted against those within the establishment who didn’t tow the line on Gulf 2.

    I’m sure that you must be a caring person who has thought long about these sort of issues, as opposed to the sort of politician that likes playing games for advantage. So taking that into account, lets play a little game of what if:

    a. The Lib Dems have won a victory so massive that even Paul Barker didn’t predict it, John Tilley has been installed as PM at No. 10 and has enough MPs to carry out any action he desires.

    b. The current crises suddenly occurs, Germany have already said they will take 800k, but what are you going to do and what is your outline plan for turning it into a reality.

  • John Tilley 1st Sep '15 - 8:25pm

    Chris_sh 1st Sep ’15 – 7:58pm

    You have taken up a lot of space to ask what I would do.

    Here is what I would do —
    1 … Remove the nonsensical fences, barriers, dogs etc from Calais and spend the £ Millions on looking after the refugees instead.
    2… Set up a programme (whilst the EU agrees on an contnent-wide allocation) to take refugees from war zones and house them and allow them to work, set up their own businesses, pay tax amd contribute to the wider community.
    3… Stop using “dog whistle” rhetoric to demonise and marginalise people who are escaping war zones, especially those war zones made worse by RAF bombing.

    On a separate point you seem to be under the misapprehension that in 1945 all the servicemen and women who came back to the UK were British born and bred. They were not. If you think I was playing any sort of card, you are smply mistaken. You may be engaged in playing games for advantage. I am not. In fact it is beyond me what possible advantage you think I might gain by making a comment in a discussion that probably only you and I are reading. I do not know who your are, what political party if any ŷou belong to, or what your objective is commenting in a Liberal Democrat forum. If I agree with you or disagree with you what gain do I make?

  • JohnTilley – “Let me give you another example of the UK coping with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people.
    In 1945 hundreds of thousands of service men and women returned to the UK from theatres of war all over the world.

    My father was one of them, having spent a long time in Burma. He had no home (having joined the army in 1930 as a 16 year old. Many people were homeless because of bombing.”

    John, these returning troops, in the main had simply been away for a relatively brief period of time and were returning ‘home’. Yes some due to bombing couldn’t return to the same physical home as the one they left, however they did (in general) have families and ‘home’ communities etc. to which it was expected that they would return and that they would take them in (different times and different social norms…). The current hordes of people coming to Europe have no such connection to Europe or the UK, hence they do not have the same connection to our communities and thus we do not have the same obligation to them, hence why this is a different proposition.

  • nigel hunter 1st Sep '15 - 11:03pm

    Quite a debate going on between Chris_Sh, john Tilley, Roland. Times change history moves on today different circumstances exist. Yvette cooper says we should house more. Today it is about the economy and what is best for it hence my interest in welcoming them and building our infrastructure like in Germany in the past and today.

  • @John Tilley
    To start from the end, it makes no odds whether you agree or not, I’m not looking for either. I’m looking to see if people are actually thinking through consequences (or, if you prefer the less polite version, if they are lazy thinkers). You are right in that you don’t know me as I use a handle, the name is Chris Sharman (I only mention that as I know you don’t like the anonymous handles), I am one of the great unwashed who often makes up their mind as they walk into a polling station.

    If you don’t think you were playing a card, may I suggest that you go back to that comment and read it objectively. It certainly came across as a political non answer designed to shut down any further awkward questions. That is also the reason for the long question, to remove political wriggle room and get a straight answer. To that end it worked and, I feel, was required.

    As to why I come here, well if I go to the websites of other parties I can read articles by advisers/MPs and guess what the party thinking will be in the future. Lib Dems claim to be the most democratic and want omov on policies etc, so that means it’s useful to know if the membership make sense.

    I was aware that many nationals came to the UK after the war to escape, however, the number living here pre-war was small and these were not “returning”, they were looking for a new safe life (a family member married one, so we do know something about it).

  • John Tilley 2nd Sep '15 - 8:39am

    Chris_sh 2nd Sep ’15 – 12:51am
    Thank you. I once worked for someone called Sharman, she was an excellent librarian.

    I don’t often quote The Spectator, but you may find this of interest.
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/9587602/britain-didnt-fight-the-second-world-war-the-british-empire-did/

    What is known is that in both the First World War and The Second World War hundreds of thousands of people passed through this country who were neither born nor brought up here. Indians, Canadians, Americans. Etc etc.

    Nobody in the authorities at the time said “Oh goodness me we cannot possibly house and feed these people, this is a very crowded island”.

    In another discussion I would be highly critical of the failure of the authorities to provide decent accommodation . I know only too well that housing problems which arose in the 1940s were still a factor in some places in the 1970s. There was however a difference of attitude. Virtually nobody suggested that the free market would solve housing problems. Even the Conservatives in the late 1950s boasted about the hundreds of thousands of council houses and flats they had built.

    If there is a need then the logical approaches to meet the need. There is a need in 2015 to do something about the millions of ordinary people escaping war (in some cases war started or made worse by the UK).

    It would be perfectly easy to meet that need if there was the political will.

  • John Tilley 2nd Sep ’15 – 8:39am ……………..It would be perfectly easy to meet that need if there was the political will…….

    ‘If’ is often the most difficult word…..We have a government who can ‘find’ £500 million to label apolitical opponent “a threat to our future national security”….If (that word again) that money had been spent on affordable homes there would have been over 3000 families benefitting, instead it has been used to play political ,games’

  • nigel hunter 2nd Sep '15 - 10:15am

    It suits the government not to spend money on housing to suit their own political ends of keeping the pot boiling to prevent the break up of the tories..I was a recipient of one of these 1950s council houses when the tories were a different animal.

  • John Tilley 2nd Sep '15 - 10:29am

    Just to extend my earlier point about BIG NUMBERS.

    On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy (61,715 of them British):

    So in the months leading up to D-Day it was possible even after four years of war to accommodate, feed and prepare around 100,000 troops who were brought to this country just for the Normandy landings.

    Yet in 2015 we are told that we cannot manage to accommodate some Syrian refugees. It simply does not add up.

  • @JohnTilley – But it took until 2006 to repay the debt… Also the UK was heavily dependent on the Atlantic convoys to provide food etc.

    To me, we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves about the chancers who seem to thing they have a right to cross borders and go wherever they want in Europe, but those who are still in the relevant countries and/or refugee camps in neighbouring countries. However, that almost certainly requires some rather hard decisions around just how much we should respect the sovereignty of nation states…

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 5:29pm

    Exactly Ronald. Syria being the most obvious to discuss. Seems a safe haven on the coast could be defended and supplied.

  • JohnTilley

    Just to reinterpret your points about BIG NUMBERS.

    The numbers of migrants from Syria et al entering the EU are significantly greater than the number of allied troops deployed on D-day, given the numbers of young single men we see in the media reports, it does seem reasonable to suggest that there are sufficient able-boded people among these migrants to liberate their home countries from ISIS et al…

  • @John Tilley “What is known is that in both the First World War and The Second World War hundreds of thousands of people passed through this country who were neither born nor brought up here. Indians, Canadians, Americans. Etc etc. Nobody in the authorities at the time said “Oh goodness me we cannot possibly house and feed these people, this is a very crowded island”. ”

    No they didn’t, John, because the people on these Islands were having their war paid for by one of the nations who’s troops were stationed here – the US. And the troops passing through this island were housed, clothed and fed at the expense of the nation providing them.

    So a slightly different situation, I think.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 3:11pm

    Jayne Mansfield 31st Aug ’15 – 6:29am i will be at federal conference in Bournemouth, sorry you cannot come.
    i attended both conferences in Glasgow and spoke in debate at the second one.
    We sometimes get a lot of ‘heat’ describing a problem, with very little ‘light’ proposed solutions.
    For instance at the earlier conference a delagate wanted to abolish indefinite detention. We had a Minister in the Justice Department, Tom McNally (under Ken Clarke). Tom McNally said that indefinite detention does not exist, which was accepted by the delegates. Detention is not on the same legal basis as imprisonment.
    One year later the policy committee has accepted thaat indefinite detention should be abolished, which was carried. We had Ministers in the government, but how could they abolish something which did and does not exist?

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Sep '15 - 3:13pm

    Caron Lindsay | Sat 29th August 2015 – 9:09 am
    This is a very unhappy thread. Should you replace your usual smiling face with a different photo?

  • @John Tilley
    Hi John
    Sorry it’s taken so long to reply, life seems to be an ever decreasing circle at the moment.

    I was aware that it was an Empire war as, of course, was WW1, there are plenty of headstones with Indian names in those cemeteries.
    We also had 100ks of foreign troops from all over the globe in the UK during/after WW2, however as others have mentioned these would have been in camps etc. In those days they would have required a pass to go anywhere of course. Some were in requisitioned building and some were also billeted with families. The latter happened to my own grandmother, she was told that she had to look after 3 officers (as in cook, laundry as well as providing somewhere to sleep). Not an easy task when she had 4 children of her own to sort out as well.
    So you’re right, if there is the political will then this could be done. Of course, if you started doing everything that was done in WW2 then you may find that you will spend a lot of time in the wilderness after the next election.
    I do have some thoughts on how you could handle this, however as I’m not going to have a lot of time to expand until the weekend then I may wait until a later article (as we’ve already slipped to page 2).

  • John Tilley 4th Sep '15 - 9:15am

    Ian Sanderson (RM3) 2nd Sep ’15 – 12:12pm
    “….The Nissen huts were still being used and moved around twenty years later. Our school had four of them – one provided two classrooms and two used by the Scouts. The Technical School where I worked as a supply teacher in 1963 also had several used to provide pairs of classrooms.”

    Yes, Ian, your recollection seems nearer the truth than some of the other comments from people who seem to think that everything was done thanks to the USA.

    No such US funding was available in 1914 when 250,000 Belgians escaping war arrived in the UK.

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that we used to have the ability to cope with very large numbers of refugees.

  • Yesterday’s Guardian….”David Cameron has bowed to growing international and domestic demands that Britain take in more refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war by indicating that the UK would accept thousands more refugees.”

    I listened to his speech and he sounded more and more like ‘Uriah Heep’ with every phrase….

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 7:37pm

    Jayne Mansfield 31st Aug ’15 – 6:29am The signatories to the 1951 convention are nation-states, mostly (EU members all) signing the same document. Therefore they are each responsible within their jurisductions. Therefore the legal minimum in immigration terms is that the people at Calais are a French problem, but, the (first) Channel Tunnel is an Anglo-French joint venture.Mrs Thatcher refused EU involvement. Labour Home Secretaries agreed some joint working between UK and French offiicials.
    The 1951 convention requires national protection first. If there is a sufficiency of national protection the responsibility does not fall on the international community.
    Governments can, of course, choose to do more than the minimum, as the UK does, which is one reason why the current government should not be allowed to dilute the Human Rights Act.
    By all means ask me a question, but i cannot yet answer what David Cameron means by “moral” nor why Theresa May is silent. The expertise will lie in the Home Office, the F&CO and in the Treasury Solicitors, but the political decisions will need to be made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    Having a wide range of responsibilities the PM is unlikely to want “detail” but, maybe he will need it.

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