“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


Emma Lazarus – words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, New York City (with thanks to Rev. Giles Fraser).

Tim Farron has today responded o David Cameron’s approach to the refugee crisis as follows:

David Cameron is realising he is on the wrong side of public opinion. His latest proposals will do nothing for people making these desperate journeys.

The people who are sacrificing everything, the victims of traffickers who all too often pay the ultimate price, will not receive a helping hand from Cameron.

Instead he will continue with his dogmatic determination not to work with the European Union.

His go it alone attitude ignores the fact that the only way to solve this humanitarian crisis is to work together with our friends and allies in Europe.

He is being an incredibly bad neighbour, risking our future within Europe in a failing attempt to improve his hand at the negotiation table. All whilst people are dying on the beaches of Europe.

This is Britain becoming a pariah state, and, if we continue like this, perhaps deservedly so.

Thumbnail featured post image by Freedom House/syriafreedom Flickr CCL.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

36 Comments

  • …………….David Cameron is realising he is on the wrong side of public opinion. His latest proposals will do nothing for people making these desperate journeys…………

    Tim is right…Cameron’s actions are akin to ‘ignoring those in a burning house and selling insurance to their neighbours’….Whilst the neighbours may be reassured by promises for the future the priority is to deal with those in immediate need….

  • Richard Underhill 5th Sep '15 - 5:10pm

    Cllr. David Becket 5th Sep ’15 – 4:47pm “David Cameron has a valid point.” He is correct to say that reception camps in the area are being funded, but he does not give credit to those in the previous coalition government who legislated that the UK should spend 0.7% of GDP on aid.

    The focus should be on how many people David Cameron and George Osborne will accept and when.
    They will make it easier for themselves if they accept first people who have been recognised as refugees by UNHCR, but not yet by a state that is a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention.
    David Cameron and George Osborne should also give priority to people who are exceptionally vulnerable.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Sep '15 - 5:17pm

    expats 5th Sep ’15 – 5:05pm No this is not an accurate criticism. The people in the burning house are in Syria, what should he do whe Parliament has voted against military action? Nor is he selling insurance to others. When he announces what he is willing to do it is unlikely to be enough, so the focus should be on that.

  • That reaction from Tim is exactly what I was hoping for… Cameron has specified no figure whatsoever, we will drag our feet and drag our feet and two years from now we will have taken 1000 refugees. Meanwhile our European partners will do all the work…

  • Very poor judgement from Farron, who seems to prefer encouraging refugees to make life-endangering journeys rather than helping them before they get to that stage.

  • I’m not a fan of Cameron or the Tories but for once he has got it right in encouraging people to stay in the camps and not travel. But it’s understandable that people want to get to a better place but the scenes we see in Hungary are that there is a never-ending stream of people arriving – what about the people who cannot travel so far? They are the weak,the vulnerable and the poor.

  • Stuart,
    The refugees must know how dangerous these journeys are… Do you really think they are doing it because the EU is “encouraging ” them.

    Tim is rightly trying to get Cameron to address the existing refugee crisis and not just an imaginary one. Cameron’s policy is a reasonable thing to do alongside co-operating with our impoverished neighbours (in the case of Greece, for example), but is not an alternative. And with no firm commitment whatsoever… This scheme has actually been in place since March 2014 but only 216 Syrians have come to Britain through it compared with 35000 to Germany. If this idea of taking people out of the camps and giving them asylum in various countries was really going to stop the boat people it would have done so…

  • Tim once again shows the lack of Libdem policy and his lack of critical thinking by offering nothing other than a rant studded with soundbites.

  • @AndrweMcC
    People are undertaking dangerous boat journeys because they calculate that their chances of finding a better life will be better than if they don’t.

    Given the numbers of people drowning, I’m sure you’d agree with me that it would be better if people didn’t get on these boats. The best way to prevent this would be to change the odds so that they had a better chance of improving their lives if they didn’t get on the boats. What Cameron is proposing will move us in that direction – what Farron is proposing would do the opposite. If Farron he genuinely wanted to do some good, he would concentrate a little less on hurling insults at Cameron and put some more effort in to doing something positive, as Yvette Cooper has been doing today to her great credit.

    Cameron’s initial response to recent events may have been abysmal, but he appreciates two important things that seem to have flown completely over Tim Farron’s head: (a) it’s better to help these refugees before they feel compelled to get on a death-trap dinghy, and (b) with 95% of Syrians still actually in Syria, most of them suffering greatly, housing the refugees – even if we took every single one of them – would only go approximately 5% of the way towards solving the problem.

  • John Tilley 5th Sep '15 - 8:02pm

    John Marriott 5th Sep ’15 – 6:55pm
    “……the PM can’t be wrong all the time. ”

    All the evidence seems to indicate that Cameron has been wrong all the time.
    Wrong when he was still banging on about “swarms”; wrong when he said spending £ Millions on fences and dogs would solve the “problem” at Calais; wrong when he said that the UK is already meeting it’s obligations; wrong when he said that UK would not take any more refugees (was that as recent as Wednesday?) and wrong when he did a photo-opportunity u-turn to pretend that he was terribly caring and would take “thousands” by which he meant no more than 4,000.

    He is also wrong with his heavy hints that he is going to use this as an excuse to get what he has always wanted which is to send UK troops to fight in Syria and for UK bombers to bomb Syria.

    He must be almost unique (outside of Saudi Arabia) in believing the answer to the humanitarian disaster in Syria is to expand the war.

    How much more wrong would you like him to be”

  • Roland

    Spot on,Farron needs to grow up & move beyond the very transparent virtue-signaling.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Sep ’15 – 5:17pm ………………expats 5th Sep ’15 – 5:05pm No this is not an accurate criticism. The people in the burning house are in Syria, what should he do whe Parliament has voted against military action? Nor is he selling insurance to others. When he announces what he is willing to do it is unlikely to be enough, so the focus should be on that………….

    So you believe that military action in Syria is the answer? Who should we be attacking; Assad, ISIS or both? And please remind me; how did military intervention work out in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya?
    Cameron’s ‘promise’ to take more people from the camps is merely kicking the problem into the long grass; no numbers, no time scale. Those who in Europe won’t just disappear (no matter what you think) and they need somewhere more settled than railway stations and shanty camps…

    Those belittling Tim’s words should ask themselves if Cameron’s overnight change in rhetoric is a change in belief or just another cynical response to media headlines…

  • John Tilley 6th Sep '15 - 7:51am

    expats 6th Sep ’15 – 7:31am
    “….So you believe that military action in Syria is the answer?
    Those belittling Tim’s words should ask themselves if Cameron’s overnight change in rhetoric is a change in belief or just another cynical response to media headlines…”

    Quite right, expats.
    Cameron, Osbourne and Liam Fox have all been sabre-rattling in the last 48 hours to try and shift the debate from refugees to full UK involvement in bombing missions and boots on the ground in Syria.

    Let us hope Clegg and others who voted the wrong way on this in 2013 have learned from their mistake.

    I wonder what odds Political Betting would offer on the likelihood of another vote in the Commons and Clegg voting against the Liberal Democrat line ?

  • Richard Underhill 6th Sep '15 - 8:57am

    expats 6th Sep ’15 – 7:31am No, i did not say that i believe that military action in Syria is the answer, although i do note the reports in the media that our current is likely to use its majority in the Commons to do some of that.
    In democratic politics with a free press in an open society it can be difficult to find reasonable alternatives, but where none of those conditions apply it can be likely to be even more difficult.
    Assad’s father came to power in a miltary coup. The Baath Party is not democratic, as we saw with the Baath Party in Iraq.
    There was some brief hope that because Assad had travelled that he might be different from his father, but these hopes were dashed.
    He is presumably aware of the humiliation, trial and execution of Saddam Hussein and is likely to fear a comparable fate.
    He will presumably also be aware that part of Syria was invaded and annexed by Israel. a militarily powereful neighbour in a volatile region.
    Not easy, but Cameron’s problems include recent public criticism from the former Chief of the Defence Staff on the first duty of government.
    Among these plentiful problems there are no good solutions, but diplomatic pressure on Moscow could increase and slightly improved relations with Iran might offer a ray of hope, despite repeated experiences.

  • Richard Underhill’s 6th Sep ’15 – 8:57am ………..expats 6th Sep ’15 – 7:31am No, i did not say that i believe that military action in Syria is the answer,

    Apologies if I’m putting words into your mouth but I took, “The people in the burning house are in Syria, what should he do when Parliament has voted against military action” to mean that the refugee problem would be helped by intervention….
    As John Tilley says,” Cameron, Osbourne and Liam Fox have all been sabre-rattling in the last 48 hours to try and shift the debate from refugees to full UK involvement in bombing missions and boots on the ground in Syria.”….
    the current state of Libya should serve as a warning of what happens when we believe removing totalitarian rulers (the definition of ‘totalitarian’ being flexible) is the answer…. I am old enough to remember how easy it was for the US to get into Vietnam and how hard to get out…Wilson said “No!” to a US president; I just wish our leaders from Blair onwards had the same vision…

  • @expats @John Tilley
    Presumably you will accept that accepting a few thousand – or even a few hundred thousand – refugees out of a population of 23 million is not “the answer” either.

    Nobody has suggested that military action will solve everything. If this problem is to be solved at all, it will be through a combination of care of refugees, negotiation, international cooperation, and yes, more than likely some military action. All of those ingredients will probably be necessary, just as they were in Kosovo.

  • @expats
    “the current state of Libya should serve as a warning of what happens when we believe removing totalitarian rulers (the definition of ‘totalitarian’ being flexible) is the answer”

    Removing totalitarian rulers in Germany seemed to work – just look at the example Germany is providing to the world right now.

    I should think most people living under totalitarian rule would benefit from it being removed, but of course how it’s done is the crucial question.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Sep '15 - 10:25am

    When Cameron speaks on Monday 7/9/2015 he should be asked whether he has been asleep at the wheel. While the Labour Party is leaderless and focussed on its internal debate the current government is responsible, but has been relatively inactive and inclined to … (quote from Dickens?). Maybe they have lost the experience of their former Foreign Secretary, so will he be speaking in the Lords?

  • The only way to stop ISIS is to cut off their revenue stream from Saudi, Turkey and Kuwait, who all have their own reasons for supporting ISIS.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Sep '15 - 10:31am

    The Andrew Marr Show ended with an opinion that the people in the camps neighbouring Syria have useful skills ( which, in domestic politics, might make their immigarion more acceptable on a points based system for rule-based implementation) but this is precisely why the choice/s should be made by UNHCR, as in the Bosnia crisis.

  • John Tilley 6th Sep '15 - 10:32am

    Richard Underhill
    The history of The Ba’ath in both Iraq and Syria is worth study. It is clear that most people in the UK and probably most people commenting in LDV have no knowledge of the subject.

    Many people in Iraq today yearn for “the good old days” when The Ba’ath, a westernised, political and secular organisation, ran the country, kept people in jobs, kept the prices of basic food very low, sent their children to good schools and universities, provided clean water and electricity to homes.

    Most of that has gone now. The appalling aftermath of the Bush/Blair invasion like the aftermath of The Bush/Major invasion twelve years earlier amd the contiouos 25 years of US and UK bombing has destabilised and pillaged what was once an advanced and prosperous country.

    The dictatorship that came to power in Iraq in the 1970s grew out of The Ba’ath and continued to use the structures and loyalties of the ordinary people who made up the vast majority of members of The Ba’ath.

    With the obvious exception of The Kurds, most people in Iraq would happily swap what they have today after 25 years of US and UK bombing and two invasions, with what they used to have under an evil and quite mad dictator. Even the Kurds in Iraq thought that on the whole they were better off than their fellow Kurds in Turkey, and with good reason as we have see in the last three weeks.

    Similarly in Syria, The Ba’ath under both the Assad dictators were institutionalised. To get a decent job or a place at university it helped if your father was a party member. Many people were and are loyal Baathists as a result.
    Many Christians in Syria look to Assad to save them from the cut-throats and religious fanatics of The Daesh and their Saudi sponsors.

    Many Palestinians who sought refuge in Syria over the decades after having had their own country stolen from them have nothing but praise for the old Assad Ba’ath regime.

  • John Tilley 6th Sep '15 - 10:49am

    Stuart 6th Sep ’15 – 10:16am
    “@expats @John Tilley
    Presumably you will accept that accepting a few thousand – or even a few hundred thousand – refugees out of a population of 23 million is not “the answer” either.”

    You will have to remind me of your question for me to be able to offer an opinion on the best answer.
    If the question is — what should we do to help refugees currently walking across Europe if they were lucky enough not to drown in The Med? Then yes, taking 500,000 refugees would help.

    You go on to say that various things should be done about Syria and imply that they would guarantee success because “All of those ingredients will probably be necessary, just as they were in Kosovo.”.

    I am not sure that everyone in Kosova would agree with your analysis. But we did not bomb Kosova for 25 years or mount regular land invasions alongside the US and completely destroy the chances for civil society to continue thereafter.

    expats when pointing to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya makes a very good point which you seem to be trying to “trump” by mentioning Kosova.

    To provide some context — the total population of Kosova is less than 2 million.

    That is approximately the same as the number of Syrian refugees currently in The Lebanon and forgetting about the 8 million refugees within Syria itself, the 2 million in Turkey, and the hundreds of thousands in Jordan.

    You may be convinced by the photo opportunity soundites of Cameron and Osbourne and their vaguest of offers to perhaps take 4,000 refugees over two years whilst sending in the RAF to bomb amd create an even greater number of refugees. You maybe think “UK boots on the ground” is the answer. I most definitely do not.

    The last thing that Syria needs is more war.

  • Stuart 6th Sep ’15 – 10:18am……………Removing totalitarian rulers in Germany seemed to work – just look at the example Germany is providing to the world right now……………..I should think most people living under totalitarian rule would benefit from it being removed, but of course how it’s done is the crucial question………..

    After ‘removing’ the German totalitarian state (conveniently forgetting it’s partition) Germany received massive aid to rebuild it’s entire structure; contrast that with Libya…As for “most people living under totalitarian rule would benefit from it being removed”….I doubt if the average Iraqi, Libyan(who, under Gaddafi, enjoyed the highest living standard in Africa) and Syrian would agree…..
    Pontificating about ‘nasty rulers’ cuts little ice with those fleeing the countries where outside intervention has been forthcoming….

  • Many people just don’t seem to have got the fact that cameron has come up with a smokescreen to cover a lack of action and a betrayal of European partners like Italy and Greece. He knows that if he agreed to an EU quota he would be held to it, so he will not. But by committing to some vague future action people will forget about children dead on beaches again and in 12 months time when “inefficiencies by UNHCR” have prevented us taking more than 1000 refugees, no-one will notice (except Tim Farron…). People do not seem to have grasped that we have already been operating Cameron’s scheme since March 2014 – it is not new! In that time we have taken just 213 Syrian refugees through it (others, 5000 over 5 years, have arrived directly in Britain and been given asylum, to save people pointing that out). And despite other countries taking far more directly out of the camps it has done nothing to discourage the boat people and Cameron’s “new” initiative will not either. A much, much bigger effort around Syria’s borders would be required for that…

    Farron experienced Cameron in action close up for 5 years and sees this very clearly. But strangely many people on here do not… Meanwhile this is the consequence: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/05/cameron-moral-failure-refugees-europe

  • In Syria we now have to choose between Assad and Isis. We cannot have a policy of opposing both of them and supporting “democratic” forces that barely exist any more. Isis needs to be stopped somehow, and I am afraid that we could see them take over the whole Muslim world if we are not careful. But the history of western intervention in the region just shows that for every problem we solve, we create three. Permanent occupation as in our days of Empire would be the only long term solution that we could provide militarily… I don’t think anyone has the stomach for that…

    It looks like Russia may be about to choose Assad (well, they already did) and put boots on the ground to defeat Isis… Probably we should let them…

    As Phyllis said, if we could strangle ISIS of arms it would help. They are a land-locked country and we control the air above them so if all the neighbouring countries agreed it should be possible without any shooting. Putting in troops with permission to sort out both the influx of arms and the people traffickers might be acceptable. But it would be a lot of troops and co-operation with Russia and Iran would be essential. Meanwhile the only people I would like us to arm would be the Kurds, but as per the first paragraph that will create problems with Turkey… (and the Iraqi government, Shia militias etc)

    So I don’t have any cure to the problem… But we have to do much more about the symptoms than Cameron is prepared to do. Tim is completely right to keep up the pressure on him and I am disappointed that many on here do not support him..

  • Oh yes, we also have to stop sending the Iraqi army in against ISIS since that is just a certain way to supply them with the latest in American weaponry!

  • ……….Chancellor George Osborne says that the foreign aid budget, which is usually spent abroad, could be used to support Syrian refugees who are admitted to the UK during their first year in the country…………

    Anyone wondering why the loss of life was so high on the ‘Titanic’ might suppose that GO was responsible for buying the lifeboats….

  • @John Tilley
    Please stop making stuff up and ascribing it to me. I never “implied” that anything would guarantee success in Syria.

    Sure, we can roll out the red carpet to those who have made it to Europe and put some of them up in one of Bob Geldof’s mansions for a while (or, more likely, a crumbling flat in Rochdale), we can even give them a bit of money and maybe donate an out-of-date mobile phone or two and that’ll give us all a fanstastic conscience-assuaging buzz, but all of that will do precisely nothing to help those who died in the attempt or are still stuck in Syria – and those people are the vast majority of Syrians.

    Perhaps, since you so forcefully reject any suggestion anybody else makes to help the people in Syria, you could possibly offer a suggestion or two of your own? Or is that what you were getting at in your post of 10:32?

  • The important question in Britain over the coming days is that of British military involvement in Syria.Cameron will seek to reverse his humiliation of failng to get military action two years ago. There is no military solution to the problems of the Middle East, a few bombing raids from British bases in Cyprus will not bring the conflict in Syria to an end.Boots on the ground isn’t going to work either.Where are British troops going to be deployed from? Jordan? That’s out. The repercussions are too great. Turkey would not allow any British troops there. Iraq, well Britain has been there before!
    The war in Syria is more than a civil war.It is a proxy war fought out by those who wish to establish hegemony in that region.Britain’s role is to seek a diplomatic solution through the United Nations. This will take time but is the only way to establish long term peace and the new Middle East settlement that must be created.

  • Ian
    The war is not going to end soon, remember how long the civil war in Lebanon lasted.
    Maybe some kind of Orderly Departure Program could be sent up similar to the one that dealt with the Vietnamese boat people, to ease the pressure on Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
    Within Syria itself it is asinine to talk of creating “safe zones” , no area is safe in Syria and no organisation, such as the Red Crescent, holds the respect of all the parties involved in the conflict.

  • John Tilley 7th Sep '15 - 7:54am

    Stuart 6th Sep ’15 – 2:18pm

    Stuart, responding to your points and taking them seriously enough to put forward different ideas seems to have irritated you. I am not sure why. If your mention of Kosova was not I implied to offer a relevant solution for Syria, why did you mention it?
    I will try to answer your direct question. You asked —
    “… offer a suggestion or two of your own? Or is that what you were getting at in your post of 10:32?”

    You are right — I was getting at something in my earlier post. I was suggesting that the UK should not make things worse by bombing Syria or by sending UK troops to die in Syria.
    That was the relevance of what both expats and I were saying when we pointed to the experience Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Hundreds of young people from this country died in Afghanistan and Iraq and for what? We don’t need a report from Sir John Chilcot to tell us that boh wars were ill-conceived disasters which have continued to made a bad situation worse.

    Another disastrous war for the UK in Syria will not help many Syrians. It will make things worse and delay any eventual peace.

    So my suggestion is to stop making things worse so that others can begin the job of making things better.
    Stop sucking up to the head-chopping tyrants in Saudi Arabia who are sponsoring The Daesh in Syria and Iraq and ensuring the continuation of war and the religious hatred which is the Saudi’s main export to the world.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Sep '15 - 8:40am

    @ Stuart,
    Perhaps you, and others , would gain a better understanding of why people are fleeing and why parents take their children from refugee camps and make perilous journeys if you read some of the facts to be found on http://www.warchild.org.

  • @John Tilley
    I do apologise for getting irritable – but when I see people writing that we should leave other people to get slaughtered in a war that is not of their making, or simply enjoy life under a brutal dictatorship, I do tend to get a bit brassed off. If your post of 10:32 yesterday is really what you think then all I can say is that Liberalism is a much broader church than I thought.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Feb - 11:23am
    @ JoeB, "....fiscal stimulus normally implies increasing deficits for the purposes of expanding demand in the economy." No. It doesn't work like this. Say the...
  • User AvatarIan 18th Feb - 11:07am
    Fairly obviously - from what Chuka said and the stuff on the website - they will be launching a new party. Sensibly (and probably practically)...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 18th Feb - 11:03am
    "Not launching a new political party" should read "Not yet launching a new political party". Why do I think that? They are requesting contact details...
  • User AvatarLawrence Fullick 18th Feb - 10:56am
    Looking at the list of Lib Dem Presidents all at some time parliamentarians have we lost the Liberal tradition that the President as well as...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 18th Feb - 9:50am
    Michael BG, fiscal stimulus normally implies increasing deficits for the purposes of expanding demand in the economy. The costed spending comittments in the Libdem Manifesto...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Feb - 9:30am
    @ Daniel Walker, Well yes they would, wouldn't they? When any business fails the directors will always look for some external reason to divert the...