The migration crisis has shamed Cameron. While he’s mubbling about taking in 20,000 over 5 years the Germans are suggesting they can cope with half a million a year. Ireland is proposing to take in the same number a year as the UK (despite us having only a 1/12 the UK’s population). In a desperate effort of bait and switch, the story of a young British Jihadi killed in a drone strike a month ago was resurrected, in the hope of getting the media to change the subject.
Of course the idea that the government can fight its way out of this situation with smart bombs from 10,000 ft is naive and foolish. Only action on the ground will ultimately remove ISIS. Which means either supplying substantial resources to the Kurdish fighters (which NATO won’t do, as that would upset the Turks) or deploying ground troops (which NATO certainly ain’t going to do, because we all know how that panned out last time and again the Turks know how that one will pan out, likely spreading the conflict across the border into Turkey, something that’s already a risk).
Certainly, one has to say that the German’s in their haste to help are setting a dangerous precedence. They could be seen to be encouraging migrants to make the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean and to ignore EU policy on refugees . This has to stop. If there’s anything sensible on this issue Cameron has said, its the idea that we should be prioritising those who come in via the proper channels, those who enter the EU illegally go essentially to the back of the queue.
Indeed, at the risk of sounding like Farage, there is also a need to ensure that some Syrians are encouraged to return once the war is over. The refugee’s from Syria now arriving are the middle class and white collar workers. Doctors, nurses, engineer’s, shop keepers, etc. The loss of so many of these probably poses a greater threat to ISIS or the Assad regime than any number of smart bombs, something that’s probably not immediately obvious to ISIS and its fanatics….although I suspect they’ll figure that out once power plants start going down and their battlefield casualties soar because they don’t have the staff to treat them.
If Syria has now burned an entire generation of it professionals, then the country is in very serious trouble, as it will make rebuilding the country post-war very difficult. We need only look at Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan for proof of that.
However all of this requires a common EU policy on migration and refugees. And the very EU states who are complaining most about these refugee’s, notably the Hungarians, British and more recently the Dane’s, are the main obstacle to such a policy.
Of course the real issue here is that Cameron tied his hands several years ago, with that ridiculous pledge in the Tory manifesto to get migration down to the “tens of thousands”, a figure divorced from any connection with reality (given that over 80,000 British or their families return to live in Britain each year and nearly twice that number of students enter). Its a pledge designed purely to satisfy the UKIP bigot brigade and the Tories are forced to stick to it, or risk splitting their party.
Three No’s to Brussels
And of course, this brings us to the thorny issue of the EU referendum. Recently UKIP launched its no….or sort of no campaign. This means there’s now three separate no campaigns, something even uncyclopedia were making fun of (you know its bad when a satirical website reports stuff as fact, because the truth has become funnier than fiction).
And despite anything anyone might say, the anti-EU campaign will be primarily fought on one issue – immigration. And naturally images of hordes of migrants coming off boats has the bigot brigade practically foaming at the mouth. So Cameron’s failure to confront the UKIP wing of his party is what has effectively trapped him on the issue of immigration, and threatens to trap him on the matter of any EU referendum.
I recall speculating that once it became obvious that Cameron’s position on Europe was unworkable, he’d likely fudge the issue. The legislation passed as I understand it contains no specific timetable, so if Cameron’s re-negotiations with the EU stall (news flash, they stalled several mouths ago when it became obvious he couldn’t control his back benchers), he can just kick it into the long grass of the next election.
I feel this is increasingly likely, particularly if Corybn wins the labour leadership on Sunday. Cameron was relying on labour to do most of the heavy lifting in a pro-EU campaign. However, if they now adopt a more neutral stance as a party (or if Corybn actually campaigns against the EU), that would force Cameron to take a more active role, something that will almost certainly split his party….and then split the country if you follow the noises coming out of Hollyrood and the latest opinion polls.
In short, Europe is faced with a very large and messy crisis, which there are no easy or simple answers too. While Cameron has gotten himself into a massive mess of his own creation, one which has even fewer easy exit strategies.