Saturday, 2 February 2013

Seeking refuge

I like Zoe Williams. Her pieces are always cogent, warm hearted and intelligent, and she isn't afraid of dipping BTL to engage with all manner of beasts who spout their mean-spirited anger at her words. A recent article on asylum seekers illustrates these points beautifully. In this piece, she writes about the insanity of those on Section 4 orders. Here is the opening  paragraph from the Home Office web page on the issue:

'This page explains how you may qualify for short-term support if your application for asylum was unsuccessful, but you temporarily cannot return to the country you came from and will otherwise be homeless or unable to afford food. (We call this 'destitute'.)'

Clear enough, I suppose. The madness of the order is that the Home Office is refusing the claim for asylum (or else the claimant is appealing an expulsion decision, which is clearly far worse) but admits that the countries to which these people would return is too dangerous for them to do so. The status of a Section 4 order bars them from doing any paid work, and means that they receive benefits only in voucher form - known, in strangely poetic terms, as an Azure Card, valued at the princely sum of £35.39 per person per week. It is difficult to imagine just how hard it must be to live under these conditions, and Zoe tells of mothers and pregnant women walking miles to get their shopping, unable to even use cash for a bus fare.

It's no surprise (although always slightly amazing that trolls manage to get in so early and stifle or divert the debate) that the foul creatures oozed all over it immediately, citing the usual claptrap about economic (rather than political) migration and refugees suspiciously not escaping to the nearest country to their own, because our benefits system is so generous - ha ha ha. All highly objectionable, and I'm sure I don't need to debunk any of this to my own intelligent readership. I will simply link to this piece of research from the Refugee Council and leave it at that. What I'm really interested in is what is at the heart of such attitudes. Racism, clearly, plays a major part. That's obvious, no matter how hotly some of them may deny it. But there is more. Underpinning it all is this English sense of fairness, a feeling that people shouldn't be getting something to which they are not entitled. Many (though by no means all) agree that political asylum is a necessary good; that we as a relatively rich nation should be prepared to help those who are genuinely in need as a result of oppressive regimes in the places where they live. Yet, they feel that the majority of those who come to our shores do so not because their lives are in danger, but because we are a soft touch. This shapes - and is shaped by - government policy. In other words, founded on pure unadulterated bullshit and nasty inhumanity.

So long Mario. It was a fun ride, but let's not do it again. I am a bit concerned about our strike force, with the Tuesday bore draw against the Hoops making life more difficult. Now we face the Scousers on Sunday, with them worryingly finding some kind of form at long last, and I fear the worst. Unless the gods smile and ignore yet another 'I've got a soft spot...' comment so carelessly made in the pub last night.


Myeral said...

A subject which will always be manipulated and mutated into which possible version is most politically desirable for those seeking power and influence. The human experience and outcome from these smokescreens is shameful,anti-human, uncivilised.

Bye Bye Ballotelli.
Aah, had a bit of a soft spot for him.

Myeral said...

A critique of my piece from my own mouth!