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  • Writer's pictureHertford & Stortford CLP

Tom Diamond writes: On Rwanda, the Government is Playing Political Games with People’s Lives

Refugees are people in desperate situations.  Many will have PTSD, having witnessed unspeakable crimes.  Treating them with the dignity they deserve as fellow human beings should be something which needs no debate.  However, as Johnson and the Conservative Party are intent on using these people as pawns, this is not where we find ourselves.  


Let’s make one thing clear: this is not about managing immigration.  As the government only plan to send a very small percentage of refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda, this will not act as the deterrent the government would like us to believe.  This will not take any power away from the evil people smugglers and will not save a single life of someone contemplating crossing the channel.  There is no evidence whatsoever that this will “undermine the people traffickers’ business model”, as is endlessly repeated.  


It is also an almost inconceivable waste of money.  Tuesday’s flight cost the taxpayer a cool half a million and that was without the plane even taking off.  Sending the refugees to the Ritz and exclusively feeding them caviar on golden plates would seem mad but it would be considerably more cost efficient than the current plan.  Wasting this amount of money during a cost-of-living crisis is beyond problematic.  


Seeing as this policy helps no-one while costing huge amounts of money we don’t have, you would be forgiven for thinking that this policy is not fit for purpose.  This, however, misses the point.  The purpose of the policy is not to help people or to streamline our asylum process.  No, the purpose is to win votes for the Conservatives.  The gimmick is simply part of the “save Big Dog” plan to keep Johnson in power.   


Polling has shown that the red wall is turning against the Tories due to Partygate and their lacklustre action on the cost of living.  They are desperate for the narrative to move on.  Johnson has come to the clumsy and offensive conclusion that, having previously voted for Brexit, the voters in the Red Wall are also racists who want to see anyone not born here deported.  As we have now left the EU, Johnson is looking for a new divide to exploit.  The Tories want to co-opt patriotism and Britishness.  What they fail to realise is this completely defies the fundamental British values of fair play and decency.  This miscalculation will cost the party dearly if they do not change direction.  


The alternative isn’t to do nothing.  We could, for example:  

  • re-open safe and legal routes for asylum seekers outside our country  

  • work closely with our counterparts in France to process claims there

What we should NOT do, under any circumstances, is to force the National Crime Agency (which can investigate the criminal gangs trafficking people across the Channel) to make 20% cuts.  Furthermore, the proposed cuts across the board in the Civil Service seriously hamper our efforts to protect our borders and to process claims for asylum quickly and accurately.  

This policy is not just heartless, ineffective and unworkable.  It is deeply and utterly cynical. The Tories KNOW this won’t work, and they do not care. It is the polar opposite of virtue signalling.  If there is such a thing as “vice signalling”, then this is the perfect example of it.  


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