For Shame

There’s a lot of talk about British values in the air at the moment. Apparently, this is all about anything UKIP want or endorse. It seems to involve a lot of dog-whistling and some downright blunt scaremongering. So no to immigration, no to human rights, anything that’s populist is popular and apparently right. Well, when it’s right-wing, certainly.

And these are the fruits of this small politics, this inward-looking, anxious, grasping tree that offers no shade to the most vulnerable in society:

The poor forced to steal or rely on foodbanks. Aditya Chakraborty wrote a blunt, hard-hitting piece on this today:

“All the other instances that police from Lancashire to south London cite as one of their growing crime areas: of people stealing to eat because they can’t afford basics.

If this sounds humdrum, that’s what austerity Britain is: humdrum, run-of-the-mill immiseration. Greece gets austerity imposed upon it by Brussels and Berlin, and Athens goes up in flames. But the British choose a government that imposes cuts – and then the poorest are forced either to steal, or to beg from this decade’s other great phenomenon: food banks.”

The UK axes support for Mediterranean migrant rescue operation. Apparently, this is to reduce the “pull” factor to the UK of helping desperate people stop from drowning. This, when half the world, from Syria to Libya, is more or less on fire. When the majority of refugees are actually taken in by neighbouring countries, more often by developing nations. We have plenty. History will judge us for looking to our own at a time like this – especially when our share of the burden is so small.

“The British government seems oblivious to the fact that the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the second world war.

“People fleeing atrocities will not stop coming if we stop throwing them life-rings; boarding a rickety boat in Libya will remain a seemingly rational decision if you’re running for your life and your country is in flames. The only outcome of withdrawing help will be to witness more people needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe’s doorstep.

“The answer isn’t to build the walls of fortress Europe higher, it’s to provide more safe and legal channels for people to access protection.”

These are not British values. The narrow, diminished, uninspired and isolationist little island mentality of UKIP does not speak for me. But they certainly seem to have sway with the establishment.

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