The Refugee Crisis – by Roger Gale MP

The global migration crisis has generated demands for “more European funding” for migrant communities while, in the UK and particularly in Kent, foster services face crisis point as illegal immigrants abandon children for Social Services to look after. A pack of “sniffer dogs” and some wire fencing is regarded, in Calais, as mere sticking plaster over an entrance to the Channel Tunnel that is besieged, nightly, by what the Prime Minister correctly but perhaps inelegantly described as “swarms” of would-be travellers. We are told that in fact seven out of ten, or some 900 illegal immigrants a month, of those seeking an economic future in Britain are currently eventually making it to Kent which, if you are a people-trafficker dealing in human misery, is a pretty helpful statistic to use in your promotional literature.

Unwise, perhaps, of politicians to suggest that we have “got a grip” of the issue.

Natascha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, certainly still thinks that  there`s a lot more gripping to be done and, while ineffectually trying to deal with striking travaillistes clogging up the port of Calais with burning car tyres, would like the Royaume Unis to be sorting it. It is, you see, the prospect of “free education”, along with healthcare and benefits, that attracts people to the United Kingdom.

Others say that it is “British Anarchists” who are stirring up trouble in the Nord Pas de Calais. The Calais gendarmerie send out a call for reinforcements in the form of the British army.

UK Police, including some of Kent`s finest, will establish a “Command & Control” centre in Calais to `find and disrupt` the people traffickers while our County constabulary will also conduct a security audit on French soil. Call me sceptical if you will but I just have a hunch that commanding and controlling international criminals who are making shedloads of money out of white slave-trading in misery might just take a little more than a “`ello,`ello, `ello, what have we here?” to deter them.

Neither am I certain that telling working illegal migrants that they will face six months in gaol when apprehended is likely to prove much of a deterrent.  Very sadly, six months free board & lodging in a place of considerable security and safety might prove hugely attractive to those whose homes in their lands of origin lie in ruins beneath which are buried many of their relatives.

For the Tabloid Press all of this is, of course, great grist to the paper mills. A seamless tide of hyperbolic reporting during what otherwise might be a thin news month. Remember, though, that while a tsunami of xenophobia is whipped up in Northern Europe providing fertile ground for the recruiting sergeants of right-wing extremists on both sides of the Channel there is a tragedy developing in the underbelly of what passes for a “union” of European states. What is happening on the islands, and in Kos, has rightly been described as “a human time bomb”.

Already facing “a prolonged and severe depression” Greece is now having to cope with literally thousands of refugees fleeing from oppression in Syria and many places further to the East. These are not `economic migrants`. They are human beings, men, women and some very young children, many of them Christians, making the short but hazardous crossing from Turkey in rubber boats or whatever other form of transport is available and heading westwards towards Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom in search of sanctuary. In old money they are asylum seekers. And therein lies the rub. Nations that have hitherto honourably offered a safe haven for those in need now find themselves confronted with a toxic mix of desperation on the one hand and a reactionary resistance to all-comers on the other. The compassion brand has taken a severe pasting and, of course, we can guess with reasonable certainty that within the tide of genuine asylum seekers there are not only economic migrants but those who seek entry into the European Union to do us harm.

The graphic and tragic image of the body of a three year old boy washed ashore on a beach in Turkey is horrific but it should not blind us to what is a global circumstance under which thousands of such children are dying of sickness and starvation on a daily basis. Those who seek a knee- jerk response to this tragedy need to ask themselves honestly how many asylum seekers and then how many economic migrants they are prepared to see accommodated in North Thanet, in Kent, in the United Kingdom.

While responding to understandable public concern the Prime Minister is right to say the real solution has to be long- term and international and must address the real issues facing those who are leaving their homes. Unless we do that as an international community then the exodus and the tragic death toll will continue and anything else, while it might make us feel better, will be in vain.

Roger Gale MP

Sir Roger has asked constituents not to reply to the piece he’s written. I couldn’t not respond, though:

Thanks for your email, and I am sorry to have to ignore your request not to respond.

Firstly, you mix two things very carelessly – ‘economic migrants’ and refugees. You in fact combine the two in one sentence; ‘Neither am I certain that telling working illegal migrants that they will face six months in gaol when apprehended is likely to prove much of a deterrent. Very sadly, six months free board & lodging in a place of considerable security and safety might prove hugely attractive to those whose homes in their lands of origin lie in ruins beneath which are buried many of their relatives.’

I am sure that you’d agree that we should give shelter and support to those whose homes are destroyed and whose relatives have been killed, and accept that these are refugees, pure and simple?

We, as a country, have a long and good tradition of supporting refugees – the Huguenots, Russian Jews, Germans in the 1880s-90s, Spanish Civil War refugees, the Kindertransport, displaced Eastern Europeans in 1945, those fleeing the Hungary oppression, Ugandan Asians, and so on. They have come, contributed and made Britain a greater place, economically and culturally. I think Britain is a better place for the Freud family, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marks (of Marks and Spencer) and Marx, Anish Kapoor, the Duke of Wellington, Helen Mironoff (later Mirren), Alec Issigonis, Vidal Sassoon, Emma Watson and – with a good local connection – TS Eliot. There are countless others, of course.

You are of course a Member of Her Majesty’s Government; Her Majesty is from a German Royal family, joined by marriage to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. You’re employed by immigrants!

Finally, I’m not sure where ‘British Anarchists’ fit into your story. Anarchists are interesting in organising and finding ways to make society better. The anarchists I know organise food and support for vulnerable people, pick up where council services are cut by organising things like litter picks and clean ups, and contribute to society in a hundred other ways, quietly and without the need to ask government for funding and support. Were you at your party’s conference in 2011? David Cameron praised anarchy in his Party Conference keynote in 2011, and said it provided the solution to the problems we collectively face today.

You can find the full text here:

Sorry to have to bother you but I, like many of your other constituents, think this is a very important issue. I’m a little disappointed to see you take such an inflammatory stance, blurring the lines between refugees and economic migration, and throwing blame at random bogey men from history like anarchists.

I can confirm I’m happy to see Thanet helping refugees; and that I don’t have any great problem with economic migration either.


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