Ordinary people across Europe have reacted with horror to the plight of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and other conflicts—and sent solidarity. David Cameron reacted with callous cynicism.
At first he held firm against letting in any. Britain, the world’s ninth richest country, supposedly couldn’t afford to take in more than a tube carriage full of desperate refugees.
After people campaigned and more than 400,000 signed a petition to do more, Cameron was forced to shift gear. But his new plan is an insult.
Britain is to take in 20,000 Syrians over the next five years—fewer than Germany took in last weekend alone.
There were even reports that refugee children could be deported on their 18th birthdays.
Whether or not such rules do apply to these refugees, the fact that they exist at all exposes Cameron’s hollow boast that “this is a country of extraordinary compassion”.
And cruel Cameron is trying to draw arbitrary lines between Syrians and Africans, between children and parents. He says it’s “vital” not to let in “migrants in search of a better life”.
The Tories are also trying to use the refugee crisis to drum up support for more bloody wars. But Cameron is also on the defensive.
The refugees’ determination and the movement in their support represent a challenge to the repressive system of immigration controls that governments use to divide and rule.
Three year old Aylan Kurdi was not the first child to drown needlessly on Europe’s doorstep.
But after pictures of his dead body sent shudders around the world, his father made the plea, “let him be the last”.
We can stop the carnage. But it will take a mass movement to defy Cameron—and the inhumane system he represents.
Wherever you are on Saturday, take to the streets in anger—and keep going until Cameron’s blockade is lifted and refugees are allowed to come in safety.