Thanks to those who gave suggestions of topics to be covered by the View from the Margins during 2023. On top of of relevant hot topics there is plenty to keep us going.
But this week we have to look at how progressives deal with and tackle the issues of asylum, Refugees, immigration and migration. It is time to get ourselves informed and ready for this issue to be at the centre of a nasty 12 months.
Most of us will have seen the clip of Suella Braverman responding to a holocaust survivor at a constituency meeting – defending her language and approach to this issue It is here if you didn’t.
Ms Salter, 83, had asked: “I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family and millions of others. “Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?”
In the full clip Ms Braverman thanks Ms Salter for her question before going on to explain her own family was not born in Britain, and that they owed everything to this country.
But later she adds: “I won’t apologise for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem. I see my job as being honest with the British people and honest for the British people.
“I’m not going to shy away from difficult truths nor am I going to conceal what is the reality that we are all watching.”
Freedom From Torture said they were approached by the Home Office, by phone and on social media, to take the edited video down.
*That* Braverman video
We know Braverman is the truly awful. I can’t find the words to describe how angry she makes me feel every time she opens her mouth. She is truly odious, I think we can all agree. But the most shocking thing about the meeting was the round of applause she got. I can’t imagine how that made Ms Salter feel.
We are rightly shocked by this dehumanising language being used by a senior politician – in deed the Home Secretary. If Rishi was truly in control of his Party this woman would be thrown out of the Government. But she speaks for the lunacy of the far right inside the Tory party these days. The rise of the ERG as a factional wing will be the battle for the soul of the Tory party this year. We may see it soon over the NI Protocol. That’s why the Starmer speech this week offering Sunak a away out by taking on the ERG was a masterstroke.
Now a Local Issue too
But the problem for us in seats like Loughborough is this is not the isolated language of a lunatic fringe.
The Tories have had 13 years in power talking about a broken asylum system and have made it worse not better. It needs a longer look at the global trends in migration and asylum than we have space for here, but we know that in a world of conflict, hunger, and environmental disasters the movement of people is growing not diminishing. From 1m Rohingya in Bangladesh to 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Most refugees find themselves displaced near to their home country. The UK takes the tiniest proportion of refugees, or Asylum Seekers. Even set against our European neighbours we don’t even come close to proportionally doing our bit.
But you wouldn’t know this from the right wing media coverage of the refugee and asylum stories in our tabloids. The coverage of the boats crossing the English Channel highlights a nasty Britain that sits below the surface.
And so locally we have seen this same reaction recently when the local Quorn Country Hotel has been suggested for one of the hotels the government is having to procure to house the backlog of cases it has created because of its inability to run a decent humane asylum and or refugee system. I can’t bring myself to read the Quorn Facebook group pages any longer. The vile language and vitriol poured out is frightening. Talk of rapes, crime, locking up your children are commonplace. Excuses about full schools, and GPs appointments back up these people. We know much of this vile dehumanising language is what drove Brexit. We know that racism sits just below the surface of middle England’s pretence of decency and compassion.
Every time a police car has been seen in the village since ‘stories’ have circulated blaming people who aren’t even here! The hotel has not even been designated never mind used, but still the rumours start and circulate. I fear for anybody finally finding their way to this hotel having gone through the trauma of leaving their homes and family.
In the last few days, to give us some hope some residents have responded by trying to work together to ensure there is local help and support. My faith in human kind is not lost. But this issue is going to very live as we head into a general election and will be exploited to its maximum by a right wing press petrified of a Tory defeat. This will get nasty. We need to work out a proper response to this issue and one that doesn’t pander to the vile racists but does set out clearly what is happening and why. It is the toughest ‘policy’ area to gain space for calm rational debate. Our task is to at least try.