“We’re focusing on the wrong people”

The Government is punishing the victims of cross-channel trafficking, not the perpetrators, says north Dorset Lib Dems’ Mike Chapman.

I had only just got over the ‘let them eat cake’ resonance of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, when I heard of the proposal to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda on a one-way ticket.
I am probably being a bit unfair, but I was immediately reminded of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal.’ Its title carries on’…For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country and For making them Beneficial to the Publick’.
The Proposal, of course, is that the rich should eat the poor starvelings, (preferably in a casserole!). So, how is it that people with the multi-national background of the Prime Minster, Chancellor and Home Secretary have stewed up such a proposal allowing them to sit in judgement over the future lives of fugitives from war,
repression and poverty?

Fair and reasonable?
It beggars belief that the way to break the criminal gangs is to victimise their prey even further. The ‘system’ seems to have lost its ability to be fair and reasonable and is lashing out with this make-or-break, immoral, unjust and damaging idea. Much of the problem is born of the notion, now institutionalised, that we must make asylum application very slow and very hard because otherwise “they” (whoever “they” are) will all want to try to jump the immigration queue.
On the other hand, coming down hard in an internationally co-operative way on the smugglers seems wholly right and proper. With the right investment in co-operative surveillance and intelligence, it cannot be beyond
the wit of man to find them, and raise the stakes of their game considerably whilst delivering fair and reasonable asylum solutions.
Whatever the outcome of our local elections, there is a strong case for those representatives forming the new unitary Somerset Council to leave their party badges at home. It will take a massive effort to make the new council work. If it all starts off on party lines, Us v Them, the losers are likely to be the people expecting the services and the positive changes they have been promised.
These are hard yards building a new perspective, culture, system and process. Let’s approach it with goodwill all round.

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