YOU report Boris Johnson’s response to the dreadful tragedy in the Channel (“Dozens die in biggest loss of life in English Channel”, November 25).
He talks about working “on the beaches concerned, on the launching grounds for these boats.” He’s clearly channelling his inner Churchill yet again, echoing his hero’s famous speech: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds …”
That’s the problem with Mr Johnson: even when dealing with grim and horrifying events, he feels the need to come up with an allusion or a quip that demonstrates his cleverness and intellectual superiority.
I have news for him: he’s certainly clever, but he is also a fool, and a selfish, heartless one at that.
The language about migrants regularly used by Mr Johnson and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel, this past year has been shocking.
Migrants are portrayed as an invading force, intent on attacking the very foundations of British society. We have a Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, whose job it is to defend our shores and repel the invaders.
The Government even wants Border Force boats to push flimsy dinghies, overcrowded with men, women and children, back into French waters if they’re found to have made it as far as the British side of the Channel.
Typically, Mr Johnson tries to blame the French for not doing enough to stop migrant boats from setting off. International migration is a global problem and the UK, at the furthest reach of the smuggling gangs, receives only a fraction of the numbers who flee their own country to seek safety, or a better life, elsewhere.
If we are to reduce the flow of migrants to the UK, we need to work with all the other nations affected to tackle the outflow at source.
Sadly, Mr Johnson is too wrapped up in his British nationalist nonsense to be a credible partner in any trans-national initiative.
If the UK wants to reduce the flow of migrants, it should stop marching into foreign lands of which it understands little then scurrying out when it realises its error.
And it should increase its spending on overseas development to at least its legally-required level of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, so that there are better prospects at home for those who otherwise undertake the difficult, dangerous and traumatic journey to our shores.
Doug Maughan, Dunblane.
A DISASTER LONG IN THE MAKING
HEARTBREAKING as the recent tragedy in the Channel undoubtedly is, with many families grieving the deaths of close relatives and friends – call them what you will, “migrants”, “asylum seekers” or “economic migrants”, the latter the favoured terminology for hard-hearted hawks in Westminster – this was an accident waiting to happen, a humanitarian disaster long in the making.
Governments either side of the Channel have long played political ping-pong with sorry souls who have absolutely nothing, bar an ephemeral hope of a better, safer life.
Weasel words – “hearts go out”, “thoughts and prayers” – emanating from the soulless mouths of a Prime Minister born in New York and a Home Secretary whose family was fortunate to wriggle into the UK before the drawbridge was pulled up, are as hollow and shameful as they are contemptuous.
But no mention that the self-same UK and those chisellers in Whitehall who claim to be protecting it are bang to rights in both cause and effect.
Post-Brexit, the UK lost its legal right to return asylum seekers, who, for the avoidance of doubt, have a legal right to seek safe passage to and refuge in the UK. Is that “taking back control”?
Second, while Johnson, Patel et al deflect and dissemble, decrying “evil people-traffickers” who undoubtedly exploit desperate folk, British political leaders have, courtesy of short-sighted, malign foreign-policy blunders, helped create the very market they now cannot stem.
Cutting foreign aid budgets was guaranteed to cast even more people into poverty and fear, while misguided militaristic misadventures in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan – the main sources of people fleeing persecution and poverty – are evidence that, for every action, there’s inevitably a reaction.
In the UK’s case, fiddling in volatile, complicated parts of the world never has – and never will – work out well. While other post-colonial powers like France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Holland keep their noses out of powder-kegs they helped create, Britain is simply reaping what it sowed.
With net migration falling, and close to half a million vacancies across key economic areas – the NHS/care sector, HGV drivers, hospitality and agriculture, to name a few – a more enlightened approach would surely be for the UK to demonstrate a scintilla of remorse, compassion and common sense by accepting – and trusting – these destitute people, giving them a chance. This would disrupt the migrant impasse and alleviate the nation’s recruitment crisis, and fast, before another migrant catastrophe happens.
Mike Wilson, Longniddry.
SEND IN THE PLANES
HAVE France and the UK considered implementing aircraft patrols to deter migrant smugglers?I have heard reports from politicians suggesting that the French coast is too vast for surveillance.WILL JOINT PATROLS
I’m aware that the Canadian west coast, which is at least as extensive as France’s coast, is routinely aircraft-patrolled to identify illegal drug activities and for search and rescue missions.
Alice Laing, Bearsden.
WILL JOINT PATROLS GO AHEAD?
HOW many more luckless souls will perish in the freezing waters of the Channel before politicians on both sides of that stretch of water get their act together and come up with a humane and workable solution?
Both countries have the funds and the apparatus available to address this issue, which has been allowed to fester for too long.
Despite the admitted complexities involved it is a source of deep shame that the UK and France should continue to pass the buck. The loss of these 27 poor people will, perhaps, act as a wake-up call.
One hopes that the joint patrols now offered by Priti Patel will actually come into being.
D. Maxwell, Glasgow.
REASSURANCE SOUGHT OVER INDY
IN 2014, and for a long time for very many reasons, I had been a supporter of Scottish independence.
Following the result of the referendum, I believed that the next few years would demonstrate that the devolved government of Scotland would enable our politicians at Holyrood to show how well they could govern under this system.
Once again Brian Wilson (“Britain is losing out on an energy bonanza due to bickering politicians”, November 24) describes in his knowledgeable way where the SNP have failed the industrial strategy that was promised on the back of the renewable infrastructure being built around us.
I think of BiFab and Machrihanish (former manufacturer of wind turbine towers) in particular. This industry promised many thousands of jobs: where are they? Hull, Teeside, Tyneside, but very few here.
I have no objections whatsoever for this work going to England, as at least it’s work in the UK and not halfway around the world.
However, all of this plays into the arguments of correspondents such as Jill Stephenson. Ruth Marr often writes in defence of the Scottish Government, as she does (November 24) in a counter-argument to Ms Stephenson’s latest letter.
May I ask Ms Marr to address opinions such as Brian Wilson’s and give me, and those like me, some faith that an independent Scotland is possible and feasible, and has a future preferably without the present policies of this SNP Government?
Centralisation as described by Brian Wilson was not a manifesto declaration that I voted for.
Ian Gray, Croftamie.
TWO DAYS ARE A LONG TIME IN POLITICS
NICOLA Sturgeon has stated that she has “no intention of going anywhere”. However, the SNP operate on a different timescale, where a “generation” is 48 hours after a referendum, so, given this logic, she could retire next week if she wanted.
David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire.
REMEMBER THATCHER’S WORDS
IN the face of a slump in ratings, Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that she will stay on echoes a certain Mrs Thatcher’s insistence that she would “go on and on and on”.
And we all know how that turned out.
Alistair Richardson, Stirling.
STURGEON IS STILL THE MOST POPULAR LEADER
IT’S important to remember, as your article points out (“Nicola Sturgeon’s approval rating tumbles in YouGov poll”, HeraldScotland, November 26) that, while Sturgeon’s approval ratings have fallen, so have those of every other party leader in Scotland.
Granted, the First Minister is, broadly speaking, not as popular as she once was, but she is still the most popular leader north of the Border – no mean feat given the raft of problems that her Government is contending with.
As an independence supporter, however, I am concerned that there is as yet no clear route map as to how it might be achieved.
The clock is ticking.
S. Duncan, Glasgow.