18 January, 2012
A modest proposal
In very crude terms, the "debate" about asylum seekers in this country divides into the Righteous and Unrighteous camps.
The Righteous assert that every asylum seeker throwing himself on our mercy and charity is genuinely fleeing mortal persecution, and if he isn't, he's fleeing destitution, or is at the very least being denied the sort of free self-expression and/or lifestyle that we undeserving bastards in the West are accustomed to, or some such waffle — I mean, like, if a flamboyant fairy can't exercise his divoon right to flounce along the main drag of Qom in a pink tutu without being hanged from a crane at the behest of the local ayatollahs, then he should be allowed to come and do so on Old Compton Street, innit. Such people, we are lectured sententiously, should be welcomed with open arms, whatever their numbers, and our society should if necessary be entirely rebuilt around their claimed needs. In recognition of our generic Western colonial guilt, our rapacious exploitation and unspeakable cruelty towards, well, anyone non-European really, it is our duty to provide reparation from our infinite coffers.
The Unrighteous camp, however, firmly believes that damned near all of these bastards are lying through their teeth and are in fact welfare seekers and economic migrants, voluntarily leaving adequate and safe environments in order to leech off our welfare state, hoping to supplement their undeserved state handouts with work in what we now call the informal economy and sending remittances home while employing, at our expense, crooked immigration lawyers in the hope of achieving the Holy Grail of ILR and the eventual chance to bootstrap their entire extended clan into the UK.
Actually, having followed this particular "passing show" with some attention for the last decade, I recognize a third and probably very large category: those who are "plausibly genuine" asylum seekers, certainly according to the generous lights of the Righteous, but also at the same time are opportunistic seekers after economic advantage. These are folk who have indeed fled a threatening situation, or perhaps simply left behind a deeply unsatisfactory one, but instead of accepting readily available refuge nearby within their own or a similar land, conclude that they might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb and make their way to Europe, where the streets are paved with stolen gold and the State will provide.
Let me give typical examples of two such Aspirants to the Ovine Upgrade, from memory.
There was the Cameroonian woman who, persistently importuned by the local chief, took herself off in order to preserve her honour. Not to Douala or Yaoundé, say, where she might reasonably be able to lose herself safely among the crowd, but all the way to London. She came to media notice in the UK when, while being forcibly deported, she kicked up an almighty fuss on the plane, Mubenga-stylee, bruised herself slightly in the process and was taken off at Paris (or possibly Brussels) by the authorities who pouted sanctimoniously at Anglo-Saxon barbarity and sent her back to London.
A more successful freeloader was the Ugandan lady reported in the training supplement of the Evening Standard some years ago. Her husband was killed in some kind of very local political feud in some upcountry shithole and so, not unreasonably, she fled with her youngest child. Not to Kampala or some safe place elsewhere in Uganda or East Africa, but to London, where she was actually granted leave to remain and was now retraining as a medical technician. At the time of the article, her two older children had recently completed their secondary education at boarding school — in Uganda but away from her former hometown and evidently safely out of the reach of her late husband's political foes — and she was applying for them to join her in the UK. Which does rather beg questions.
Such tales are legion. And because, as with the party of blind men examining the elephant, each side of the "debate" can concentrate to those aspects which support his case while ignoring the rest of the picture, rather like Daniel Waweru below the line on CiF tenaciously maintaining his bite on the precise interpretation of a single word in someone else's post like an insane pitbull, that debate is heated but fruitless. People shouting over each other's shoulders until they get bored and go home.
So let me suggest a solution which might at least address the uncertainties.
The current refugee legislation and conventions adhered to by "the West" were, as I understand it in my historical ignorance, largely shaped by the horror and sense of guilt of the Allies when they were confronted with the full physical reality of the Endlösung der Judenfrage, their horror at their pre-war failure to provide adequate refuge to European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. This outlook was subsequently compounded with the political desire to promise support to the trickle of successful escapees from behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
But then promises are easy to make when the uptake is negligible: the Jews we had failed were either already dead or already fled. And the Soviet dissidents were safely behind that nice big Iron Curtain.
What was not anticipated was a creeping commitment to supply European standards of governance and concomitantly European standards of living to every poor but hopeful Asian or African who is sitting there in the bush wondering whether the diesel in the generator will hold out until the end of the episode of Sex in the City or Dallas that he and his fellows are watching on the village telly.
"Do people in White countries really all live like that? I want some of that."
It doesn't work, however hard we try. The numbers are simply too great.
However many thieving bankers you expropriate or grasping rentiers you tax until the pips lose their squeak, you cannot afford to support 300 or 400 million poor Black and Brown people in the UK in the lotos-eating luxury to which they believe they are entitled. Nor can we support every last one of those fleeing simple poverty or intolerant, corrupt governance or even, ultimately, actual persecution.
The lifeboat metaphor has its place here. If you are in a crowded lifeboat and there are a couple of people floundering in the water nearby, you extend an oar to them and haul them aboard. If there are a thousand heads bobbing nearby, all desperate to get aboard and grasping for the gunwales, you use the oars to beat them off. That's the sad reality. Otherwise everybody drowns. While we're at it, let's run a bit further with the metaphor. As their bedraggled DJs and posh frocks make clear, the original passengers in the boat were first-class passengers at dinner when the ship sank; the new arrivals are all from steerage. And as more steerage passengers are helped aboard and begin to outnumber the toffs, the overloaded boat begins to founder. Who do you think is going to get chucked overboard to lighten the load?
I don't want some of that.
But we are decent folk, whatever the Righteous may think of us. If a man presents himself at our door and claims that he has run away from the threat of imminent death, mutilation or torture, and we find ourselves willing to believe him, then a decent person will still want to offer help. Despite rather than because of the pious wallowing righteous social masochism of the CiF post about the Congo that I linked to above, that decent instinct remains.
So how to separate the terrified sheep from the opportunistic goats? And how in due course do we persuade the sheep to return to their home pastures when the wolf has been killed?
Well, what are we actually undertaking to offer? We are offering protection from harm. Not the chance of "a better life". Not, for those fleeing — real or invented — persecution in the Third World, an upgrade to First World standards of living and opportunity as part of the bargain. Nor are we obliged to offer economic support to their countries of origin via remittances and the eventual opportunity for mass immigration of the refugee's extended family and clan. We are not even obliged to offer support and protection for the remainder of the refugee's life; just protection from harm for as long as the realistic threat persists.
That's the core of it. That is all that can fairly be expected of us and, in the face of the potentially huge numbers which are currently held back mainly by logistic barriers, all that we can afford to offer. Freedom from fear.
Which in practical terms means segregation. The accommodation of asylum seekers and accepted refugees in, yes, refugee camps. Camps offering decent basic international standards commensurate with those applicable in their home countries, and containment without imprisonment. Preferably located in suitable, safe non-Western locations but managed and possibly run by the sponsoring Western governments. And with the reasonably expectation of the contribution of productive work in exchange for their keep from those who are able to do it.
To square the circle, to at least separate the truthful sheep who seek protection from the lying goats who just seek to short-circuit the immigration process, we need to call the latter's bluff. You seek protection from mortal terror, you say? OK, we will give you that protection. We will offer you, in essence, the standard of living you enjoyed in the country you claim to have fled along with freedom from fear. And no more.
Of course we'd have to ditch the ECHR first and perhaps hang a few judges pour encourager les autres.
Now, Mr Asylum Seeker, are you still interested?
Now of course two things will happen: zillions arrive and feed off the already-here (possibly illegal) immigrants. Near where I live the small houses get extended to twice their reasonable size with extra bedrooms to house families who must come from the muslim world to join their loved ones here. Of course too some of those arriving to live off the taxi-driver in the family will help out by taking his cab out when he feels he wants to stay home. It's all in the family, and we have no real idea of which Ahmed is driving the taxi.
By the way, a curious thing: the incoming muslims (sometimes enlarging a modest house or buying the one next door to knock through) all soon acquire big gates and high walls. It's almost as if they fear the indigenous population...
The second issue of a 'free-for-all but-don't-demand' policy would be crime. Given the state of our police or perhaps our national or courts reluctance to pursue crime, then no doubt a few hundred immigs can make a pretty decent living with other people's plasma TVs.
But there is a third issue in that they will not go home, ever. No matter how bad the weather here, no matter how much their political love of some third-rate terrorist homeland, they would rather stay here once they set foot. Most of us would have little problem with immigration if they sometimes said, 'screw the nasty UK, we hate the west' and went home in high dudgeon. But they stay and brood and even breed. They know it is better for them to stay and dislike us and push for more of their sort of law or 'culture' on our streets. It may be political or it may be selfish, but stay they will.
And for those who fly in and find a home here, they soon find they can behave badly because they only have to say they 'fear' torture (yes, even those who support and encourage regimes and gangs in their homeland that actively use torture) and they can never be sent back from where they came. The torture may not exist but their fear is enough to win the argument.
Meanwhile our fear of being swamped is trumped.
I have no doubt that we have traitorous people among us (few if any immigs hold any allegiance to the Crown, even if they don't directly indulge in activities that stretch our intelligence services) but the shock is that some of the traitors have been the people who lived here for generations. New Labour is stuffed with them, our main stream media is filled with do-gooders who twitter about equality, but all are people who can flee the inner suburbs and cities to the country when the going gets rough or relocate to other, less swamped places.
For some reason the political appeal of having swathes of people coming in (other than obvious fraud such as postal voting, etc) is lost on our leaders.
Little wonder we are so disillusioned: our much-vaunted and highly-rewarded experts and authorities can not see that a forced multi-culti society will have repercussions that will make today's unrest look modest.
Since many of our own home-grown underclass survive not solely on benefits but on the Black Economy, this is - sadly - a non-starter...
I think the UK is in for a slow decline to third world standards. Maybe ending up something like India was 10 years ago, where there is a super rich elite but the majority are quite poor and some absolutely destitute.