A YouGov poll on attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers sends a shudder through me. 49% of Britons have little or no sympathy towards them. I am only slightly cheered to learn that 44% of us have a great or fair amount of sympathy towards them. When you break down the figures into Labour and Conservative, Remain and Leave, voters, it’s easy to see how the fissures in our society are growing wider.
Among Labour voters, 73% have a great or fair amount of sympathy and 20% have none or little. Among Conservative voters, the figures are the exact opposite. Remainers are 67% sympathetic and 27% unsympathetic and Leavers 24% sympathetic and 73% unsympathetic. What do these figures show us what we didn’t know already? Absolutely nothing.
Sadly, YouGov doesn’t seem to have broken the statistics into age groups but it would not require the brains of a rocket scientist to work out that it will be older people who are more hostile to desperate refugees and asylum seekers. After all, the older generation – that is to say my generation – took us out of the European Union because many of them don’t like foreigners. The latest poll suggests that those fleeing genocide, torture, starvation and all the rest of it are the lowest of the low.
We should, I suppose, be grateful that YouGov chose to not take their questions a step further. How about asking people whether they’d like the Royal Navy to be sent to sea and sink the refugee dinghies and boats? I would like to think that most people would not go that far but I wouldn’t bet against it.
For years, we have been fed a constant media agenda of migrants coming over here to simultaneously steal our jobs and claim all the benefits under the sun. We are rarely told of their stories. We just see the nicotine-stained man-frog Nigel Farage whipping up hatred. In fact, Farage often sets the agenda. Did anyone see the BBC and Sky hiring speedboats and heading out to the English Channel to try to find refugees in their little dinghies? The BBC’s Simon Jones reported on how men and women were desperately trying to bale out water to stop their dinghy from sinking. Jones asked questions like, “How are you?” and “Where are you from?” not do you need help in case you drown? Dehumanising bastard. Still, that’s entertainment, eh?
I’m sad that we feel such little sympathy and empathy for our fellow human beings. I don’t care what colour people are, I don’t care what religion they practice, as long as it doesn’t in any way affect my life or the society in which I live. I just see desperate people who need a little TLC. I don’t want to sink their boats, I don’t want them to drown, I don’t even want to send them back to France, Greece, Italy or Spain, all of whom take far more refugees and asylum seekers than we do. And I really find it hard to understand why anyone would wish them anything but good.
But this is Little England. It’s not even Little Britain anymore. We voted in 2016 to pull up the drawbridge to Europe and now most people want to pull it up to everyone else, too. Not long ago, people were being urged to be kind. That didn’t last long, did it?