Thursday, 9 February 2017

Sneaking Out

Who do we really care about?

Family, friends, vulnerable people, children...?

Let's start with the children. The most vulnerable children. Kids without parents, living as refugees just across the 'hard border' that separates England from France.

Last year Lord Alf Dubs negotiated an agreement with the UK Government that would allow a number - he had pitched for 3,000 but this was diluted in the final version -  of lone children from the Calais refugee camps to be allowed into the UK.

It was a huge battle for a very small victory.

And then yesterday The Minister for Immigration, Robert Goodwell (Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby) shuffled out a written statement declaring that just 150 kids will be allowed into mighty Britain. The statement is designed to baffle with waffle. It is hard to spot just the numbers, but read paragraphs four and five carefully and you'll see the maths. 'We've let in 200, and we are going to let in 150 more.'

Mr Goodwell happened to release his statement on the same day that Westminster voted for the Tories' Hard-Dream Brexit. This is not an accident. He knew that no-one would notice.

This is sneaky politics. In other words, it's business as usual at Westminster.

It uses a technique known as a 'Shock Event.' Professor Heather Cox Richardson has written a clear guide over on Facebook. Brexit is a Shock Event. We are hypnotised by Brexit, we talk about it all the time, and we divide along traditional fault lines over Brexit, with racism or at least anti-immigrant sentiments being the guideline. While we are staring into the darkness of Brexit, the government pushes forward with its real agenda, led by the Minister Against Immigration, Robert Goodwell.

The sneaky Tories have abandoned hundreds of orphan refugees to their fate. One NGO says that it cannot trace one third of the 179 children it was tracking, and Save the Children Fund has reported in its blog that more lone kids are going missing as they hear the rumours about changes in the UK laws. There are 5,100 child refugees and asylum seekers detained in France, according to the well-researched data at the Global Detention Project.

What is to be done? Lobbying, pressure, writing to MPs, donating to the tiny volunteer-led NGOs that are working with child refugees in France. 

But finally the people of Scotland will have to decide. Do we want to be bound to this Parliament of sneaks and rogues, for ever more?

Finally, a selection of organisations you might like to help:

Save the Children Fund
Dunkirk Legal Support Team
Help Refugees
Refugee Youth Service
Calais Migrant Solidarity
Global Detention Project



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