Here’s a sad reminder of the lengths by which the Conservatives have regressed UK society:
This is one eighteenth-century invention I didn't expect to see coming back to 21st century Britain: the prison hulk.https://t.co/Aey1gkssi1
— Prof Alice Roberts💙 (@theAliceRoberts) August 8, 2023
Professor Roberts is only slightly inaccurate; while the Bibby Stockholm and any other converted prison barges are reminiscent of those ships from centuries ago, they are more accurately described as concentration camps – a label most commonly associated with the Nazi extermination of Jews, Romanies, homosexuals and other proscribed groups in the 1930s and 40s.
One cannot help but feel that this was an intended aim of Tory immigration policy; they did not have to let the issue of refugees migrating across the English Channel happen at all – it used to be well under control but successive legislative changes by the Tories changed that.
Is it a sinister message to the people of the UK? “Do as you’re told or you will be next?”
Does anyone else feel indescribably gutted and saddened at seeing images of the first asylum seekers being sent onto that prison barge?
I feel like this will be a moment that future Historians look back on and condemn.
— Relish Hendy aka Jen (@relish_hendy) August 8, 2023
The Conservatives themselves have been strident in their support of a policy that imprisons people who have done nothing wrong, with a view to deporting them to a foreign country with a highly-questionable human rights record.
But they have (deliberately?) got the tone all wrong. Their party’s deputy chairman, “30p Lee” Anderson, actually used obscene language when referring to asylum-seekers – which implies that he considers them to be a form of life that is below him (this is impossible; as a Tory, Lee Anderson is already lower than vermin).
The associations with other far-right political organisations were quickly identified, but Anderson has been defended by other high-ranking Tories:
On BBC R4, Justice Sec Alex Chalk defends Tory Dep Chair Anderson who said migrants can “F off” back to France if they don’t like barges. These ‘go back to where you came from’ messages take us back to 70s NF racism. Is this incitement and language where our politics needs to be?
— Adil Ray OBE (@adilray) August 8, 2023
And public opinion has judged them all:
The party of Pitt, Peel, Disraeli, Churchill, Macmillan and Thatcher is now the party of Farage, the EDL, the BNP and cruel foul-mouthed racists everywhere https://t.co/gxvdIu54aY
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) August 8, 2023
In fairness, the attitude is being challenged – and you can judge the pitiful response from Justice Secretary Alex Chalk for yourself:
Nick Robinson: Lee Anderson has said migrants should fuck off back to France if they don't like barges.. is that the Tory policy?
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) August 8, 2023
There isn’t a queue to jump, of course. The UK government picks and chooses who it allows in and, if you are from a wide array of countries that includes territory the UK has bombed within the last 13 years, there is no legal route for asylum open to you.
People who believe they must seek sanctuary in the UK – and remember, France takes three times as many refugees as this country has; German takes 10 times as many – have no choice but to do as they have.
Here’s Chalk again, showing that he shares Anderson’s fascist views about foreigners:
Does Tory Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson 'speak for the party' when he says migrants who don't like barges should 'f*** off back to France'?
— LBC (@LBC) August 8, 2023
His claim that people should stop at the first “safe” country has long-since been debunked; international law does not demand that and never has.
Fortunately the rest of us aren’t putting up with any of this Tory/Fascist/racist nonsense:
This repulsive man is a Conservative MP and the fact he can openly say this says everything about the state of the politics in this awful country.
Lee Anderson needs to f*** off and go live under a rock. pic.twitter.com/PTUVU7KImG
— Lauren Rose 🟠⛅️ (@LeftLozB) August 7, 2023
Now brace yourself for a bombshell:
If asylum-seekers and/or refugees refuse to take places on the Bibby Stockholm floating concentration camp, they won’t be sent back to France but they will lose financial support from the UK government, which will not provide accommodation for them.
People who refuse to board the Bibby Stockholm barge are being told that if they do not accept the 'offer' their government support will end, leaving them homeless.
The government’s intention is clear: to make all refugees feel unsafe, unwelcome and unwanted.
— Breakthrough Party 🟠🌤️ (@BThroughParty) August 8, 2023
So let’s be clear on this: they’ll still be in the UK, but out on the streets, unmonitored? Isn’t that what they want?
So the Tory plan to deal with these asylum-seekers and refugees is either to make them put up with conditions similar to those faced by concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany or to flood the UK’s streets with them – something politicians like Lee Anderson and Alex Chalk have been strenuously opposing for a long time.
Where’s the sense in that?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the House of Commons, we see no opposition at all:
Keir Starmer slammed for silence on migrants 'f*** off' comment https://t.co/b0iTHIpl4T
— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) August 8, 2023
So Keir Starmer agrees with the Tories yet again. No surprises there.
Indeed, the rhetoric of Starmer’s STP (Substitute Tory Party – formerly Labour) is identical to that of the Conservatives on this matter:
Labour: "The hotels are costing £6m/day. That is money that could be channelled into.. our schools & hospitals"
Tory: "We're spending £6m/day on 4 star hotel accomodation.. thats money which then can't be spent on.. the NHS, schools"
Poor public services? Blame asylum seekers. pic.twitter.com/5RnfFHnMl3
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) August 8, 2023
£6 million a day adds up to £2,190,000,000 a year for hotel accommodation. The barges cost – well, see for yourself:
‘A staggering £1.6 billion contract has been handed to a controversial Australian travel firm to establish the ships, bridging accommodation and travel services, it has been reported.’https://t.co/X3vgjvGxUY
— #RejoinEU ⭐️ #WeAreTheOppositionNow 🇪🇺💙🕷 (@Angie_RejoinEU) August 8, 2023
So: £800 million per year. But that’s not instead of the cost of hotels – it is in addition to that cost.
And what are we – and asylum seekers/refugees – getting for that cost? Edwin Hayward has researched it:
Get to Know the Bibby Stockholm…
– 500+ single adult men crammed onto a barge with a capacity of 222 in normal use (e.g. as accommodation for oil workers)
– 2 strangers, sharing an austere metal bunk bed
– TV (as mocking and useless as a paperweight: they've…
— Edwin Hayward (@edwinhayward) August 7, 2023
BTW, this BBC article about it had some truly disgraceful lines:
"They're not the biggest beds, but the rooms don't feel too claustrophobic."
"It certainly doesn't have ocean liner splendour – there's no grand staircase, fine artwork or sculpture."
"Some of the journalists on…
— Edwin Hayward (@edwinhayward) August 7, 2023
He had a highly-pertinent response to a correspondent who thought this didn’t seem too bad:
It's not remotely how you live because you have a job to do to keep you occupied and to put real spending money in your pocket.
They only have the barge. They are forbidden by law from working even though most eventually have asylum granted and are then allowed to work.
— Edwin Hayward (@edwinhayward) August 8, 2023
The best word on this whole sorry affair has come – as it usually does – from the most unfairly-vilified politician in Westminster: Jeremy Corbyn. He reminds us that the UK used to have a human immigration and asylum system, before the fascists and racists who currently call themselves Conservatives (and their counterpart cuckoos in Keir Starmer’s party) came along.
And look at the comment on his words, below:
The sad irony is, Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few politicians in Westminster today who would have welcomed Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany with compassion and dignity. Those who accuse Corbyn of "antisemitism", would have shoved Jewish refugees on barges. https://t.co/q8llOAAIn6
— Frank Owen's Legendary Paintbrush🥀🇵🇸🇾🇪 (@OwenPaintbrush) August 7, 2023
We have come full circle.
UK policy on refugees and asylum-seekers is not only vile and inhumane; it reflects that of the Nazis to the minorities they persecuted.
Lee Anderson, Alex Chalk, Keir Starmer and Stephen Kinnock (it seems clear) would have put Jewish refugees from the Nazis in concentration camps, if they had been alive and in Parliament at that time. And how many of those currently aboard Bibby Stockholm are Jewish, anyway?
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