Willie Rennie’s message for St Andrew’s Day – a plea to help refugees

Saltire and Forth BridgeToday is St Andrew’s Day. Here is Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie’s message to the people of Scotland:

Our Patron Saint was born in the village of Bethsaida, a short distance from the troubles in today’s Syria.  As we celebrate St Andrew’s day this year, millions of people across Syria and the Middle East need our help.

Last week I visited an Edinburgh charity which has been collecting clothes for refugees who have made the perilous journey from Syria to Europe.

In many respects they embody the values that St Andrew taught. Tolerance. Generosity. Openness. We need Scotland’s two governments to follow their example.

Liberal Democrats have been clear that one of the conditions attached to any UK military action in Syria must be a plan to address the huge increase in refugees that would follow intervention.

But regardless of whether we join coalition air strikes, there is still a clear need to increase the number of refugees that we accept here in the UK. And of course, we should accept a fair share of these people in Scotland too.

This St Andrew’s day, my challenge to the First Minister is to speak up and make clear to the UK government that Scotland stands ready to help, and ensure that local authorities have all the support they need to welcome more refugees.

My challenge to the Prime Minister is to ensure that debates over military intervention do not drown out the cries of those desperate for our help.

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  • When you have homed all the homeless is the time you can home refugees. Why are the homeless worthless to politicians? Not enough kudos? I am still waiting for these politicians and celebrities who promised to take Syrian refugees into their homes to show us they have. The problem is that we have Europe flooded with economic migrants who are demanding housing, medical care, money and are getting increasingly violent . As this continues then sympathy for genuine refugees disappears which is why Mr Rennie has written this?

  • Anne – would you have been proud of Britain if we had totally refused to take in Jews escaping from Nazi Germany? As it happens the UK was not nearly as generous as it should have been in the 1930s, and I am quite ashamed of that. I don’t want to face the world in the future ashamed of my country’s attitude towards desperate people fleeing persecution and warfare. This has nothing at all to do with economic migration.

  • Anne – Mary is right this is nothing to do with economic migration. We are a very rich country and should be doing far more to help the millions of refugees fleeing war zones and persecution. These people have absolutely nowhere to go and winter is fast approaching. We could surely at the very least double the 20,000 over 5 years the government has pledged to take in – which could include some of the families currently homeless in europe. I would also like to see us doing far more to help countries like Greece and Turkey build, maintain and administer proper temporary shelters.

  • Your challenge to the first minister? Surely this is a subject that party politics should play no part in. The first minister has been clear and vocal on this point from the outset. Offer support and consensus, not challenges.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Nov '15 - 11:57pm

    Anne 30th Nov ’15 – 10:04am Immigration is much more diverse and complicated than just two categories, refugees and economic migrants. Tories from David Cameron down are mouthing this nonsense, even Labour MP Keith Vaz is saying the same, he should know better. The Home Secretary knows the complications of the job she is trying to do, but the policy outcomes are foolish, such as the crackdown on graduate students from abroad.
    Even the term “refugee” lacks a satisfactory definition, from the compassionate but inaccurate we hear from the churches, to the UK’s legally defined international obligations, to a real need for a broader and more inclusive definition caused by climate change.
    The word “Europe” also needs to be more precisely used. People may enter the EU at Greece, leave the EU when crossing into European countries in the Balkans, and enter the EU again at Hungary or Croatia or many other places.

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