The commentators 08-09-15
...on the migrant crisis
Our Government has no coherent policy for responding to the migration crisis. The 20,000 Syrians Cameron says will be admitted over five years will not begin to satisfy the Bob Geldofs and Yvette Coopers, who want almost open access for the world's yearning and suffering people. Little steps to intervene in the war in Syria, and letting a football crowd's worth of refugees into Britain, is not a policy. We should not allow David Cameron to delude us — or worse, himself — that it is.
- Max Hastings, Daily Mail
International law suggests that Europe must offer asylum to every genuine refugee who reaches the EU. Political reality suggests that the numbers involved will be too large to sustain domestic support for such a policy. At that point, European politicians will try to wriggle out of their commitments — probably by trying to prevent refugees from reaching the EU in the first place. The harsh deterrents adopted by Hungary and Australia — currently the subject of widespread condemnation — may come to seem more normal.
- Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
Nobody can think on the smiling face of Aylan Kurdi without loathing what terrorism has done to the Middle East. Nor before him, before our imaginations and sympathy were finally engaged, should we have failed to understand what those abandoned lorries across Europe meant. The question now before a responsible government is, what can this country do to make things better, not worse?
- Nigel Dodds, Daily Telegraph
David Cameron is a decent man. But in his “plan”, the politics has trumped the decency. This is not a strategy to give succour, it is a fig leaf to cover nakedness. The public are ahead of the politicians in this – as they were on intervention in Bosnia. And so, in our myopia (or rather the government’s), we fail to see what the cheering welcomers of Germany see so clearly. Those fleeing the Syrian battlefield are not “economic migrants” – they are, in large measure, the educated middle class. They are the Ugandan Asians of our day. Remember how much they have done for our country? - Paddy Ashdown, The Guardian
Our leaders should be wiser than to react in panic to a wave of public emotion. David Cameron’s announcement yesterday that Britain will take in thousands of Syrian refugees is a gesture which will make next to no impact on the human tragedies in the Middle East and North Africa. He has little idea of where these people will be housed. We already have an acute housing crisis, with many migrants already in the country living in insanitary conditions in back garden sheds and overcrowded, illegally-sublet council homes. Aylan Kurdi’s death changes nothing.
- Ross Clark, Daily Express
Cameron’s response to the refugee crisis, in which the UK makes unilateral decisions rather than co-operating with the EU, becomes part of his early attempt to win a referendum and keep his party united. Again Cameron is defiant, sticking with his original stance of refusing to co-operate with Merkel’s plans for an EU quota, and yet weak in his focus on party considerations at a moment of historic challenge.
- Steve Richards, The Independent
What would have happened had the shootings taken place not in America, but in Norwich? What if the victims had been a local TV crew known to two or three hundred thousand people? Would our London-based newspaper executives have thought "We've never heard of them, so we'll use lots of gory pictures" or "They're British. We'll show some restraint"?
What if the victims had been a Newsnight reporter and cameraman, people we were used to seeing in our living rooms, people known all over the country?
Would the photographic coverage have been muted - in deference to our familiarity and their families - or even more excessive?
Editor's blog: Murder on camera
Comment archive, 2015
Virginia TV shootings
Boris Johnson, Greece
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