LibLink: Tim Farron: The Tory conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our doorstep

Tim Farron has written for the Independent about how the Tory Conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis. This was written at the same time as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip went to Calais with a car full of items donated by Liberal Democrat staff.

They will say, over and over, that Jeremy Corbyn will bankrupt your country, steal your job and surrender to Britain’s enemies. They might even have a go at him for not singing the national anthem. And while I might agree that the Islington North MP lives in an economic fantasy land – a land far removed from fiscal reality – these Tory tactics are a smokescreen; and not a particularly sophisticated one. You can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be talking about the biggest single issue facing Europe today – the refugee crisis.

They will simply not discuss developing a proper international plan to help the hundreds of thousands of migrants scattered across Europe or the millions of people trapped in Middle Eastern tented camps. But with this help and support must come a diplomatic strategy to deal with nations like Syria whose barbaric civil war is uprooting millions of people.

Diplomacy is not done at the barrel of a gun or from 30,000 feet it is done by supporting moderate opposition and working with regional actors to make sure we do not play into the IS narrative. Together with a humanitarian response must come a diplomatic strategy. One strand cannot work without the other.

He outlined the action he wants to see:

I want to hear the Prime Minister finally take a lead in solving a problem that future generations will look back on and either celebrate our compassionate or cringe at our inaction. I want to hear him say that, yes, we will sign up to an EU quota system for refugees. That European countries will stand tall, stand together and provide sanctuary to our fair share of refugees. I want him to say that we must establish reception centres across Europe to ensure refugees are treated humanely and with dignity when they arrive in Europe, before being settled across the continent. We need an international response to this growing international crisis.

And I want to hear him say that local councils in Britain will be supported by central Government with real money to help them ease any pressures that arise from doing the right thing. But I fear that I will hear none of this. It is far more likely we will see a speech where warm words replace firm commitments, and solutions are seen as ‘too difficult’.

This approach would not only undermine Britain’s history as a compassionate, open-hearted and decent country but would let down the millions of refugees who have fled war for a better life.

You can read the whole article here.

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4 Comments

  • “I want to hear the Prime Minister finally take a lead in solving a problem that future generations will look back on and either celebrate our compassionate or cringe at our inaction. ”

    So the £bn’s the UK government is spending on refugees in and around Syria making it the biggest aid contributor behind the US, doesn’t warrant a mention – is it because it doesn’t fit with the distorted image of the Conservatives Tim wishes to promulgate?

  • Shaun Cunningham 8th Oct '15 - 2:30pm

    I despair at times. A political party who is serious wanting political power needs to be in tune with with Country. They need to be speaking for them not ramming emotional sermons down their throats.

    Why is it most people I speak to can differentiate the difference between true refugees and economic migrants yet many in this party cannot. This country and this party should always welcome true refugees who are fleeing persecution, in fact we have a proud record of doing so, however are we really in the business of accepting anyone and everyone who merely wishes to travel North to find prosperity, because if we are this party has a huge problem. The message currently being broadcast come to Europe and all your troubles will be resolved is unsustainable but worst still we are deceiving the very people we are trying to help. Their frustrations will boil over because the dreams of jobs and housing let alone the other foundations of life which will remain for many a dream.

    Time people got off their soapboxes and start addressing the issue with a sound clear-headed mine set.

    We should not be encouraging people to disconnect from their heritage and birth place , we should be working with the International community, aid agencies, governments, to bring a solution to the core problem and yes that means stepping up to the plate and making tough decisions.

    Due to indecisiveness some politicians failed to address the issues 3 years ago we now have the potential that world powers will collide, this morning NATO made it clear they will defend Turkey, if there was ever a time for some clear thinking the time is NOW. This party needs to be bold and start addressing the core issue because shortly we may have to make some really momentous decisions. Are we up to it or will we become a mere spectator?

  • Richard Underhill 8th Oct '15 - 6:54pm

    Shaun Cunningham 8th Oct ’15 – 2:30pm “Why is it most people I speak to can differentiate the difference between true refugees and economic migrants yet many in this party cannot.”
    Definitions vary widely, but this is a false distinction. Having an economic motive does not make it more likely that an asylum seeker will be granted or refused recognition as a refugee.
    The large number of applications being received by counties on the continent at the moment could overwhelm the system and lead to simplifications – rough justice?

  • @Shaun Cunningham
    “I despair at times. A political party who is serious wanting political power needs to be in tune with with Country. They need to be speaking for them not ramming emotional sermons down their throats.”

    I share your despair. The sanctimoniousness of some of these sermons beggars belief.

    I defer to nobody in my dislike of Teresa May. But is her conference speech really evidence that she is a raging xenophobe? No, not really.

    May’s speech seems positively mild compared to some of the things Lib Dems like Clegg and Huhne were going around saying just a few years ago. Mass immigration, we were told, was causing “undue strain on our public services and on housing”. In some areas, pay rates were “adversely affected”. New laws were needed to bar migrants from areas like the south east, which, Clegg helpfully informed us, had less water per head than Syria and the Sudan; continuing migration to these areas was “unsustainable”. These and other problems had apparently “bred resentments which in turn make it harder for people to integrate”.

    All these things are no different to what May was saying, in fact some of them are a whole lot worse. Seriously, can you imagine the outrage if May had said we should keep migrants out because we’re low on water? Strangely, though, LDV was completely devoid of articles condemning Clegg and Huhne for their rampant xenophobic dog-whistling or whatever you want to call it, which makes me believe that the average Lib Dem’s thinking on immigration goes no deeper than “Lib Dems good, everyone else bad”.

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