28 April 2022
Diary of a Corbynista
The Four Horsemen ride again
by Don Urquhart
If challenged how many of us could name the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Without looking it up I was fairly certain about Pestilence, Death and Famine then was scratching about. Even after considerable Googling I was none the wiser. In the Old and New Testaments there are several different offerings and there have been many attempts at depicting the phenomenon on canvas, in woodcuts and the movies. Whatever their definition, people cross the English Channel in flimsy boats in order to escape them.
I set out to write about immigration but was sidetracked by one wise adviser to admonish me for focussing on the wrong subject. He told me there were many flavours of immigration, legal and illegal. The real issue for him was asylum-seeking and he could not see any reason for turning down a genuine asylum seeker however they had reached our shores. I was also influenced by the two fine articles in Shaw Sheet 321. John Watson thought the Rwanda solution the least bad but had strong reservations about the ability of the Rwandan and British governments to make it work. Lynda Goetz also had Rwanda as the least bad option with strong reservations about its practicality. She also enjoyably excoriated the Rwanda plan’s critics, largely on the basis that they didn’t have a better solution.
Then I received this from the regular Corbynista bulletin boarder Walsall:
Can we stop with the illegal immigrant shtick, please?
They are not illegal until they have been processed and refused asylum. These people haven’t even made it to our shores, which they must do to make a claim. The government, apart from a small number of schemes for approved people, has cut off pretty much all of routes into the UK for asylum seekers. Under the Refugee Convention 1951, they can choose any country they wish, so the UK, as a signatory, is obliged to receive them. They become refugees when they are accepted as such, which is about 70-80% of the applicants, including those who appeal. Most refugees, don’t forget, end up in neighbouring countries and Turkey has the greatest number, albeit supported by some western countries to maintain them. The UK isn’t even in the top 10 and only takes just over 1% of the total. Hardly overwhelming, is it?
This government, to appease its Brexit ideologists, has attempted to demonize the lowest and poorest of us all, to escape from the realisation that this country and the world in general, requires movement of people.
It is a Utopian vision – this world without borders where we look after each other regardless of where on the planet we start out.
Since 1945 we have monitored war, pestilence and famine while keeping the consequences at arm’s length to a great extent. From time to time we will point to world beating charitable heroics. However there has been war in the Yemen for more than 10 years with 24 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Here our major contribution has been to sell arms to Saudi Arabia which drops bombs on the benighted country.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) estimates that the value of arms sales to the Saudi Coalition since the beginning of the war is over £22 billion.
In 1940 we were on the receiving end of the kind of thing Mariupol is suffering now. If The Darkest Hour is to be believed Churchill’s supplications to Roosevelt fell on deaf ears. But since then we have not often been supplicants. Perhaps James Callaghan came closest when grovelling to the IMF for a loan in 1976.
At school I was taught that we brought to people in distant lands Christianity and good governance. There was less emphasis on our expertise in harnessing the labour of the many for the benefit of the few.
And close to home the Irish potato famine was surely a low point. The repeal of the Corn Laws helped but did for the career of the Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel who made the big mistake of putting compassion before his party’s vested interests. Not much chance of that being repeated any time soon.
Now we have a cost of living crisis which for millions of people means deprivation. To the Social Democrat interested in living in a cohesive and happy society the case for significant transfers of resources between the haves and have-nots appears ineluctable. And yet what we see is a Government tinkering at the edges of the problem and an official opposition framing the solution in a most unconvincing manner as a one-off windfall tax on the energy companies.
It could be time to buy shares in gilets jaunes.
It seems that we are unable to address the necessary transfer of resources in our own country, let alone the initiatives needed to support those people abroad suffering from the Four Horsemen stimulated by Climate Change.