I’ve said it before and will do again please don’t go on about politics. If you must go into them. As a Twitter devotee, I notice how much anger is directed towards the ruling classes. And yet it is all hot air until we’re allowed another vote and can exercise our right to protest and decide who to trust.
I admit to occasionally howling like a banshee at Radio 4 when another drip of an MP spouts the party line like a ventriloquist’s dummy while the listening public mentally hurl rotten fruit at them. These days I turn to Radio 3 and allow Handel or Strauss to work their magic. It is not dissimilar to draping baize over an agitated canary’s cage.
However, I am moved today to write about the immigration crisis that is threatening to overwhelm the EU. That heartbreaking photograph of a dead child on the beaches of Turkey is a gross indictment against all EU politicians. How many more bodies are required to prove that several generations of politicians have basically f****** it up?
Let’s make this clear. America – still the world’s superpower despite China’s best efforts – was built on immigration. I find the pictures of Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century so moving. I would confidently say Hollywood would not have enjoyed its golden era without the mass creative exodus of Jews persecuted in Europe and Russia. I even consider the story of The Godfather rather an uplifting albeit dark vision of the American Dream.
People move to places of greater safety. That is the definition of asylum seeking. People move to lands of greater opportunity. That is economic migration. Should we begrudge anyone who chases either of these dreams? I think the fundamental difference in the UK today to America in the teens and 1920s is the expectation of migrants wanting citizenship. Then people came to America to work hard and make a better life. Now there is an element of viewing the UK as a benefits system and NHS jackpot.
I entirely understand the rage that British nationals feel when they see their taxes haemorrhaging on benefit fraud for immigrant families who don’t want to work, learn the language or even tolerate our values. A couple of years ago I was on financial skid row for various reasons. I had paid tax my entire life but when I spoke to the Revenue they made no bones that if I didn’t sell my teeth to pay off back tax they would send in the bailiffs and I would be jailed.
There is no mercy in the UK for mugs like you and I who mind our own business, pay our taxes and carry-on uncomplaining while the government insult us with their choices. I’m all for tax. I have been paid back in spades by the marvellous NHS and have spent more time in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries than the Carry On team. However, when I see pudding faced slacker Mr Cameron pontificating about foreign aid I want to beat my chest like an angry gorilla.
Foreign aid buys Mrs Mbutu Prada handbags. It pays for gold taps in African palaces. It gives back handers to Congolese dictators in exchange for leverage on the international stage. You’re not paying for clean water and malaria tablets. You’re paying for the UK to punch beyond its weight politically in the name of charity. If I had my druthers, I would axe all foreign aid and use the funds to handle the immigration crisis in the UK thus freeing-up any drain on the benefits system.
Furthermore I’d operate a one-in-one-out policy. For every deserving asylum seeker who wants to contribute to British life there’s a cancerous, radicalised element who loathe our values, our religious tolerance and our history. It is not racist to express great distaste seeing veiled ladies on the streets of London. That’s not how we roll. If the religiously intolerant don’t like living in the United Kingdom and despise everything we stand for then I suggest they go and live somewhere more to their tastes such as Syria.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with defending our boarders from invasion. We’ve been doing it successfully for centuries. How sad that we got to the 21st century and lost the right to decide who may or may not call themselves a British citizen. This is not the country I was born in and, yes, I blame that venal, dead-eyed monster Tony Blair and his misguided administration for flooding our borders for political gain.
And yet the idea that human beings will risk death to reach our shores is humbling. I am reluctant to call them immigrants or asylum seekers because it depersonalises people. Every man, woman or child who dies in the back of a truck, under a train or in a sinking boat has a story. While we in the West have to manufacture sob stories for awful television programmes such as the X-Factor, these people if they had the opportunity to tell their stories would break your heart.
We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. We’re heading for Lord of the Flies territory if we repel all boarders at our borders. But we are a very small however magnificent country. We literally can’t take much more. I must say central Europe was particularly stupid to make their borders viscose: particularly Germany. Sorry for the low blow but I don’t think a nation who solved removing undesirables in such a pernicious fashion in the 1940s has any right to lecture on compassion.
I never thought my social conscience was acute but seeing that dead child in Turkey and realising he is one of millions running for their lives makes me weep for the world.