Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate

Tim Farron has made the following comment on the Calais issue:

If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures. We are treating this as a security issue, but primarily it is a humanitarian one.

We should be big enough to take a lead and accept our fair share of refugees, rather than expecting others to do it for us.

There are genuine people who need our help, but equally there are people exploiting a desperate situation. The UK government must provide all the support it can to maintain a firm but fair approach at our borders.

That means the UK needs to sign up to the EU asylum policy, but just moving in with force and building a bigger fence is not a solution.

We must not lose sight of how desperate someone has to be to cling to the bottom of a lorry in a bid to get a better life.

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20 Comments

  • Tim has got this absolutely spot on. If people are this desperate to improve their lives then nothing will stop them trying to cross the waters, whether it’s under a lorry or not. Nigel Farage’s talk of bringing in the army will solve little to nothing in the long-term and it certainly won’t help the lives of those trying so hard to get here.

  • So pleased to hear that Tim is sticking his neck out on this. Exactly the sort of issue where we should be saying what we believe and not sticking to a consensus position.

  • I know [through the work I do] of immigrants who came by boat to Europe, made the appropriate applications in the country of their landing, and are now in camps – waiting patiently to be processed. We should deal first with those who have taken advice and done the right thing and registered why they are in Europe. These are the people of which Tim speaks – and they read, in their camps, about those who are in Europe but not regulated correctly.

    Of course we understand that there is also a mix of people who are economic migrants, asylum seekers who didn’t apply correctly, those who have been sent or bought themselves into slavery, and those who would bring harm to any country which accepted them. These people also need to be processed fairly and correctly and not allowed to roam the continent looking for an easy way to ‘streets paved with gold’ as they are told exists in Europe.

  • p.s. NewsHound has missed the new Lib Dem shadow cabinet
    here in full:
    Leader: Tim Farron MP
    Economics: Baroness Susan Kramer
    Foreign Affairs/Chief Whip/Leader of the house: Tom Brake MP
    Defence: Baroness Judith Jolly
    Home Affairs: Alistair Carmichael MP
    Health: Norman Lamb MP
    Education: John Pugh MP
    Work and Pensions: Baroness Zahida Manzoor
    Business: Lorely Burt
    Energy and Climate Change: Lynne Featherstone
    Local Government: Mayor of Watford, Cllr Dorothy Thornhill
    Transport: Baroness Jenny Randerson
    Environment and Rural Affairs: Baroness Kate Parminter
    International Development: Baroness Lindsay Northover
    Culture Media and Sport: Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter
    Equalities: Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece
    Justice/Attorney General: Lord Jonathan Marks
    Northern Ireland: Lord John Alderdice
    Scotland: Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
    Wales: Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
    Campaigns Chair: Greg Mullholland MP
    Grassroots Campaigns: Cllr Tim Pickstone, Chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

  • Richard Underhill 29th Jul '15 - 6:30pm

    Tim Farron calls for a bit of compassion in the Calais debate.
    He wants to ” … to take a lead and accept our fair share of refugees …”.
    The Labour government decided it did not need to imort unskilled labour, so tightened the rules and implementation.
    Market forces then cause applicants to apply for something else.
    The UK has an island mentality, despite a land border with the Irish Republic, several international airports, etc.
    When Mrs Thatcher agreed to the channel tunnel, provided she did not need to pay for it, there was debate about Napoleon wanting to build a channel tunnel and whether Hitler could have used one.
    What is happening now is partially about the processes of removal and deportation being different in the Uk and France. The Dublin Convention and Dublin II have superseded the Anglo-French “Gentlemens Agreement” but are not effective. Attitudes to immigration are affected by the effects of internal migration within the UK and the Common Travel Area with the Irish Republic, etc.

  • Not surprising there is a bit of a silence on here.

    I happen to agree with Tony. There is a world of difference between families genuinely escaping persecution and the aggressive young male economic migrants who put their own safety and the safety of others in jeopardy – not to mention all the consequences of the disruption they are causing. They also give ammunition to the appalling Mr. Farage.

    As someone who helped to give shelter to Bosnian refugee families from Mostar over twenty years ago I think that Tim is right that we can’t leave the Italians to carry the can on this one.

  • Richard Underhill 29th Jul '15 - 10:36pm

    The desparation of the migrants at Calais might be partially caused by people traffickers taking all their available money.
    An earlier investigation into so-called “Snakeheads” showed that relatives in the home towns and villages saw them as travel agents and borrowed money to pay for one member of their family to travel. Lacking local funds for repayment they need the migrant to earn substantial money in the destination country. There have often been exagerrated expectations. Keeping up appearances may continue after arrival in letters, phone calls, etc. If creditors are not repaid some of them may turn nasty.

  • Richard Underhill 29th Jul '15 - 10:38pm

    On Channel 5 News on 29/7/2015 an MEP from another party said that David Cameron seems to be linking his attitutude to the situation at Calais to his negotiations prior to a referendum.

  • Richard Stallard 30th Jul '15 - 1:42am

    Don’t forget that NONE of them should be trying to break into Britain illegally. If they are asylum seekers, they should (according to the 1951 Convention), seek asylum in the first safe country they come to – not traverse several others to pick the one with the most generous benefit system or with the most easily-exploited black economy.
    If they are economic migrants, then they should apply from their home countries in the usual manner.
    David is right that we can’t leave the Italians to carry the can entirely, but better to have a process whereby genuine asylum seekers who have registered in Italy are then transferred to us, than to allow a free-for-all which benefits nobody.

  • Neil Sandison 30th Jul '15 - 10:10am

    Agree with Tony and David compassion is fine but it needs to be tempered by an agreed European policy agreed by all member states on migration .Perhaps Tim should be challenging Cameron to come forward with a reform package that deals with the different layers of migration .Sadly the public are wrapping up the EU with the scenes from Calais , Italy and Greece seeing it as another failure in co-operation between member states. This could have a serious and negative impact on the EU referendum .We need to remember that referendums can in many instances not be about the issue on the ballot paper but the perception of how the government of the day is handling other matters .

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 12:46pm

    Richard Stallard 30th Jul ’15 – 1:42am
    “Don’t forget that NONE of them should be trying to break into Britain illegally. If they are asylum seekers, they should (according to the 1951 Convention), seek asylum in the first safe country they come to – not traverse several others to pick the one with the most generous benefit system or with the most easily-exploited black economy.”
    Yes they should, but not doing so is not a decisive reasons for complete refusal or loss of appeal. The applicant would be asked why and replies considered. The claim in the first safe country would usually have been on an earlier date than in the later country. For asylum person the claim or appeal needs to be in the present. For instance if a source country goes from military dictatorship to democracy the original claim may have become groundless.

    “If they are economic migrants, then they should apply from their home countries in the usual manner.”
    Not all non-asylum applicants are economic migrants, but for those who apply under the Immigration Rules it is not essential to be in the country of nationality. They might be dual nationals. They might have a short term visa for a third country, … . This partly about where embassies and consulates are, or what arrangements we have for other countries to provide some consular services.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 12:54pm

    Neil Sandison 30th Jul ’15 – 10:10am ” genuine asylum seekers who have registered in Italy ”
    This means recognised Convention refugees. There are arrangements for the transfer of recognised refugees.
    Suppose a husband and wife from a war zone are recognised as refugees in different safe countries, but succeed in contacting each other and want to come together. Either country can decide to accept both.

    If a country which has recognised a refugee is not consulted when the refugee leaves their protection they might not accept his/her return as a refugee.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '15 - 6:50pm

    Neil Sandison 30th Jul ’15 – 10:10am is right to say ” … referendums can in many instances not be about the issue on the ballot paper but the perception of how the government of the day is handling other matters .”
    Referendums around the World, the Growing Use of Direct Democracy edited by David Butler and Austin Ramney
    ISBN 0-333-63369-5, isbn 0-333-63368-7.
    That is one reason why the government in 1997 was so keen to maintain their popularity while they put through referendums on devolution for Scotland, Wales and Greater London.
    It is also why president De Gaulle resigned, allowing France to modernise its politics.

  • So Cameron is sending more fences and sniffer dogs – you couldn’t make it up.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Jul '15 - 12:45pm

    Tim Farron

    If you don’t give people hope, they will resort to desperate measures.

    The problem is that if you do give people hope they will resort to desperate measures.

    There are hundreds of millions of people across the world in horrible repressive and desperate situations. So of course if you give such people the hope that if they do something ridiculously dangerous to get here and they survive, there’ll be some who do it.

    I can’t see an easy way out of this. If we REALLY were to follow the line “these people are oppressed – we must have pity on them”, then we should be opening the door to all of them – all those people who are gay in countries where you face penalties for that, all those people who face persecution for following a minority religion or for not following the religion they were brought up in, all those people who can’t keep silent about those who rule over them. Hundreds of millions of them, we should let them all in.

    But obviously, we can’t.

    So if we don’t, but do to those few who have done life-risking things to get to where they are, what does that say? Unfortunately, it says “Do life risking things”.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '15 - 12:59pm

    Matthew Huntbach 31st Jul ’15 – 12:45pm “.. obviously, we can’t.”
    That is why it was essential that a large number of countries signed the UN 1951 refugee convention, unlike, regrettably, the UN statelessness convention.
    The “Calais problem” is partly a consequence of the Schengen Convention being incomplete, although, contrary to much press comment, the UK is a member of the part of it which relates to police co-operation.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '15 - 1:03pm

    Bad news travels fast, is not just a cliche about modern communications or press attitudes, it is also company policy at Microsoft, according to Bill Gates. Reasons include: management may need to act quickly to try to deal with a problem.

    It is the policy of the current government, but not, presumably of the previous one, which leaves a doubt, were our coalition partners telling us everything if we did not have a minister in a department? or even if we did?

  • Desperately difficult problem. These people seem to be like Dick Whittington seeing London’s streets paved with gold. From what I have seen many are “economic migrants”. It creates moral dilemmas for us all as Matthew says. By allowing people in we encourage others, but equally do we want people dying on the rail lines etc. I think we should be part of the agreement to accept some of the Italian migrants but will that solve the problem – sadly no. No simple solution but leaving the EU will not solve the problem. We will still be located twenty miles from France.

    The tide of refugees, migrants entering the EU is a problem we need to work on together. Whilst the middle East, Libya etc burn and people in Europe have a way better quality of life , then people will seek to come to Europe. We obviously need to continue to meet the UN goals for providing overseas aid, which credit to David Cameron he is doing. But how to rescue failed states, stop the fighting – much cleverer people than I have no solutions.

  • France takes more of these desperate people than England but the only news the UK media ever refers to is about those at Calais trying (and failing) to get to the UK…. Listening to Cameron one might imagine that this is like Hitler’s ‘Operation Sealion’ when, in fact, “Vastly greater numbers of irregular migrants in the UK arrived by air rather than in the back of a truck” ( Oxford University’s Migration Observatory).

    Sadly, the UK is merely ‘reaping what it sowed’…Cameron was a major player in removing the stable government in Libya and turning it into an ‘immigrant departure point’…. Blair caused instability in Iraq and anyone with half a brain should have had the sense not to repeat the stupidity in Libya…

  • Helen Tedcastle 1st Aug '15 - 12:57pm

    I agree with Tim.

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