British response to refugees is shameful.

The sight of people trying to flee Afghanistan as the Taliban moved in and took over was harrowing to see. People cramming onto aircraft if they were lucky enough to get on one, some so desperate that they were tying themselves to the wheels or clinging onto the sides, literally risking death to escape, only for death to claim them, yet our sorry excuse for a government? They all seem to be on holiday while it happens.

As with any war, innocent lives are not only lost but displaced as well. It happens every time and sadly all too often this side of the story isn’t spelt out, isn’t told, all too often our media play it down not wishing us to be informed as to what the human cost is. Death figures are harrowing of course, but they are numbers on a sheet, people displaced by war, driven from their lands, homes destroyed, jobs gone, nowhere to go and in need of help that doesn’t always come – well, these are real people, still there and the picture becomes far more complex.

For those countries that do put their hands up, that do acknowledge their role and that they need to play a part in helping the innocent caught up in atrocity deserve to be applauded for their efforts. Germany have said they’ll evacuate 10,000 Afghans, naming translators and human rights lawyers specifically – those who worked with the West for 2 decades and are at risk of execution if caught. Angela Merkel has also said that she’ll work with other European countries to facilitate more. Good luck with dealing with Emmanuel Macron of France on that, since he seems more interested in blocking flows of ‘migrants’ from Afghanistan – they aren’t migrants, they’re refugees, learn the difference –  and has vowed to develop an EU initiative to stop them. Pandering to the far right in his own country to try and save his own political hide at the expense of displaced victims of war. Centrism for you – people hanging off planes and falling to their deaths and he wants to put the boot in.

The US plan on taking 30,000, Canada 20,000, even Uganda has pledged to take 2,000, now there’s a country that knows something about citizens displaced by war.

But what of the UK, how many are we taking? Boris Johnson is on record as saying we must not turn our backs on Afghanistan, Boris Johnson has mumbled something about an Afghan refugee scheme this week, but would they really want to come here given our track record?

Since 2008, the UK have deported, under the guise of repatriation, 15,575 Afghans back to their home country on the basis that their country was safe. It’s another untold Windrush story. By 2015 an average of 100 Afghans a year were being sent back, including people who arrived here as children, have known nothing else. Their formative years were spent here, they studied here, passed qualifications here, were raised by foster families here, but the minute they hit 18, back they went. In fact an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found Afghan children were more than twice as likely to be refused permanent asylum as children from anywhere else.

How many more days will it be before Johnson informs us how many refugees the UK is going to take? Why is it taking so long? Why also, is he not being put under any pressure by the opposition, where is Keir Starmer in all of this, how many refugees does Labour think we should take? Oh, he’s apparently going to wait until the government produce some numbers first. Pathetic, he’s going to Captain Hindsight this as well. Johnson will name a number and he’ll go that’s not enough and raise him what? 100? A thousand? and then Johnson will go slightly higher. This is what passes for leading the opposition these days, utterly useless. Canada has already received a planeload of refugees, whilst we can’t make our minds up how many we’ll take still!

It’s hardly surprising, Johnson was on holiday and the de facto deputy prime minister and Geography impresario, Dominic Raab, who also, without any trace of irony is the foreign secretary was also away! He was warned ahead of heading off to a beach in Cyprus, that things were escalating in Afghanistan and that he shouldn’t go. Naturally, being all about himself as Tories invariably are, he went anyway. He’s had to be dragged back, refusing to budge for several days and mumbled a mealy mouthed ‘nobody could see this coming’ when he got back! Literally the PM and Deputy PM were absent from duty, nobody holding the fort, because y’know, don’t these Taliban types realise the UK is on its hols! Nobody could see it coming? You were told before you left! Jeremy Corbyn warned Blair about this in 2001, but y’know, who listens to jam making vegetable botherers! Well he was right again!

He’s also mumbled about increasing aid to Afghanistan by 10%, but this is after the UK cut foreign aid there by 78% just last month! They knew the Taliban was advancing then and all the while aid and military were being pulled out. What bloody good is 10% after that you pathetic worm of a man and who will it be paid to now, the Taliban?

And of course wherever there’s talk of the UK taking people in from elsewhere you just know Home Secretary Priti Patel will have said something dreadful and that chronic woman has already squealed about migrants – again, they aren’t migrants! They haven’t made a choice to come here, they’ve literally nowhere to go, the very definition of a refugee – they’re seeking refuge for heavens sake! She wants to make sure we only take people of value apparently! Good job Ted Heath didn’t feel the same way when he opened the UK up to refugees fleeing Uganda, since that included Patel’s bloody parents! Uganda, the same country now taking 2,000 refugees, which is 2,000 more than we currently are!

Patel is more concerned about the message this will send to other refugees who might want to come here. She is inhumanly cruel and callous, it is just astonishing given her own personal family history that she thinks the way she does and worse, that she’s in a position of privilege such as she is as Home Secretary.

We owe the people of Afghanistan. We stoked dissent there during the Cold War, we trained many of the fighters who later became part of the Taliban back in the 80’s to fight the Soviets. That proxy war left a country torn apart by civil war which laid the foundations for the Taliban to take it over. Displaced Afghans came here as children only to be sent back the minute they turned 18 as the country was deemed safe, during the 20 years a Western supported government held up but in reality the entire thing was built on quicksand. Trillions of dollars wasted without giving any thought to the country being able to support itself and its gone to hell inside 10 days.
Our government, We in Great Britain, we owe the people of this country a lot. We’ve caused chaos over the last 40 years in Afghanistan as a nation, the least we can do now is take some of those who’s lives have been destroyed thanks once again in part to this country, offer them a new, permanent home somewhere safe to rebuild. We should all demand it, we as a country need to do our part.

UPDATE:

Its now emerged we’ll be taking 20,000 refugees, but over the course of 5 years! What the hell these people are meant to do while they wait I don’t know, but this is effectively washing our hands of the situation and should shame us all. Demand better.

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Tory Turing Scheme is a massive con compared to Erasmus.

So we left the EU and one consequence of that has been the end of Erasmus, the study and work abroad in the EU scheme that was open to British students. It has been replaced by what the government have called Turing and are today crowing that take-up under the Turing scheme is three times more than under Erasmus, but being the Tories, there’s a catch of course.

Under Erasmus 18,300 UK students were able to go abroad to study, yet the Department of Education is proudly crowing that it is sending over 28,000 students abroad under Turing and is expecting to have universities bid for up to a total of 40,000 students. The thing is, under Erasmus, students were only sent to the EU, it was an EU only scheme. Turing is worldwide, so given the world is bigger, you can imagine there’s more places available, so more students going shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The sting in the tail however is that Erasmus actually covered tuition fees whereas Turing doesn’t. It was only a few days ago that Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire and a man who always has the air of being on the verge of exploding, was bemoaning Tony Blair permitting poor kids to go to university when they should’ve been learning to be a lorry driver. If you think the Tories care about getting more kids from poorer backgrounds studying, think again. The headline is risible from the Department of Education, we’re giving more people the chance to study abroad, it just misses out the part where you need to be wealthy enough to pay for it. There is cash going in for disadvantaged students is the cry, but this is going to vary from University to University and destination to destination and will cover the costs of visas and passports, not tuition, which will be a barrier to those from poorer backgrounds from taking up the scheme. Turning is aimed solely at University level students, whereas Erasmus was open to all ages. Many foreign language degrees require a residential abroad – we already have a shortage of foreign language speaking roles – would such students be disadvantaged further? We don’t know. The Minister, stupid boy Gavin Williamson, hasn’t clarified. Apart from anything else the funding available, some £110m which doesn’t seem a lot, has to be bid for by Universities, so it isn’t even guaranteed full stop. What impact will COVID have is another good question, given we’re Plague Island and many may not want students from here. It is, in short, another ill conceived, Tory con.

We’re out of the EU. To go and study there or anywhere else now, tuition fees are no longer free. For those courses that weren’t free before, they’re no longer discounted, so that now when you have to pay for your fees, you may have to pay the much higher international rates, certainly this is true for Europe. These can be enormous, depending on where you go it can be two or three times domestic fees, high as they are, which is just ridiculous, though it does need to be noted, for some countries this could be cheaper. But of the 150 countries that are apparently taking part – some of which incidentally are on the advisory list against all travel there – how many would this apply to and how many places would there be? You have to consider what incentive would there be for a country to take part if it isn’t set to make money itself out of this? This is not levelling up, this is keeping ordinary, working class kids down, disadvantaging them and telling them to know their place, that higher education isn’t for them and rubbing their faces in it, as they see others from other universities or more affluent backgrounds, able to take up a placement that prior to Brexit, would have paid for them to do as well.

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