David Cameron put on his deeply concerned look for the TV cameras when passing comment on the “EU migrant crisis”, as the BBC so crudely put it. Pursing his lips, the PM said,”We are taking action across the board. The most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world. I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees.” What a deeply political comment from this most political of prime ministers. The man is an empty vessel.
Firstly, he says “we are taking action across thee board”, although I suggest not much of it, but let’s move on to the part Cameron believed is “the most important thing”: bringing “peace and stability to that part of the world”. Cameron does not have a clue how to achieve that and neither does anyone else. It’s not a policy, it’s a vague aspiration and worse still it has absolutely nothing to do with the issue. His current policy is to drop a few bombs here and there and that’s about it. In 2011, Cameron was in Libya, the hero of the hour, congratulating the people on their new found freedom. Now, millions of Libyans are on the move because of ISIS. He has no more idea how to bring about “peace and stability” in the Middle East than he does of remembering which football team he supports.
And then, completely unrelated to the rest of his comments, Cameron asserts that there is no point in taking “more and more refugees”. I am sure that will be an enormous comfort to the families of the victims of the 71 people who died inside that lorry in Austria or those poor people, including young children and babies, drowning in the Mediterranean. There is no point in saving people’s lives, appears to be the gist of his argument, and there is certainly no point in showing them compassion by taking some to our country.
Sadly, it seems that Cameron is not the only person with compassion deficit. Radio Five Live conducted what they called “an entirely unscientific” poll of listeners and over 60% of the respondents rejecting extra help these desperate people, with just 36% saying we should do more.
On this basis, Cameron has accurately read the public mood and I have completely misread it. Maybe I live in a little world where people have genuine feelings for the plight of others, who do not see desperate people fleeing for their lives as potential benefit scroungers and layabouts and who just want our country to do its bit. I know one thing for sure: I’d rather live in my world than his. I know he has a gallery to play to, meaning the right wing in his own party (most of it), Ukip, of course, the right wing media and the electorate whom he perceives share his lack of compassion, with some justification, it appears.
Cameron’s argument for “peace and stability” is an argument for doing nothing. Instead, he should show some genuine leadership and explain what is really going on in the world and put forward a case for us doing something constructive. Make a case to the public and back it up with facts and an appeal to our inner kindness.
Imagine in World War Two and prime minister Cameron had been around when the Jews were the victims of genocide. “I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees”, he announces to a mystified nation. Weak, weak, weak.