Lifeboats and Refugees

This blog is based on an article I wrote for Critical Mass Magazine in November 2021, although I don’t expect it to be read by the ignorant right wing bigots who really need to be told. I originally wrote it in response to comments by Nigel Farage and Darren Grimes, a young right-wing activist, that really annoyed me but the subject crops up too often for me to merely repost my original piece – there’s much more needs to be said even if nobody’s listening!

As my regular followers know, I’m a supporter of independent lifeboats rather than RNLI, but indies don’t have the resources to rescue refugees in the Channel so I hoped they’ld have escaped the furore. The only independent All-weather Lifeboats are in Northumberland, Norfolk, Isle of Man and Jersey – all too far away to assist refugees in the Channel. Despite my efforts to inform people about the many lifeboats that are independent of the RNLI (my biggest project to date) some bigots are too blind to see the difference even when it’s pointed out to them – like the one who responded to my regular shoutout to Hertfordshire River Rescue (not RNLI and not Channel)

Here are some examples of tweets that frankly disgust me, and they’re the pattern for many more obnoxious tweets!

RNLI volunteers are devoted to saving lives at sea, ALL lives, they don’t decide which lives are worth saving! I tell bigots whenever I can “Even yours!” It’s not their job to tow them back to France, as ignorant critics insist they should do. They have no authority to do so but must return to the place from which they were launched. Allowing a few refugees to drown to deter others from risking their lives is NOT the humane thing to do, but that’s what these right wing idiots are really promoting despite their protestations of the opposite!

They are, refugees not ‘illegal immigrants’. People like Farage and Grimes can’t even conceive of how desperate a person must be to get into one of those boats to start with, their idea is to discourage them by making the crossing even more dangerous! Refugees have a right under international law to seek asylum in the U.K. but they have to be standing on British soil to claim and there are no safe and legal routes for them to get here. The fact that the vast majority are granted asylum – after a prolonged period of uncertainty when they’re housed in substandard accommodation with an allowance of £5 a day for other expenses and aren’t allowed to work to sustain themselves – proves that they ARE genuine refugees, which nobody but an idiot would dispute!

We’re told that they should claim asylum in the first “safe” country they arrive in but that’s not a requirement of the Refugee Convention and I’ld like to know where that “safe” country is. It’s certainly not the U.K. as recent attacks by fascist groups on hotels accommodating asylum seekers proves! The hotels used are run by outsourcing companies like Serco and wouldn’t even deserve one ⭐️ The inflammatory language used by Suella Braverman could provoke violence against lifeboat volunteers as well as “leftie lawyers”. Emergency services suffer enough from hooliganism while going about their lifesaving work, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The best way to fight people smugglers is to stop collaborating with them, which is what Braverman and Sunak are doing! It’s like punishing a drug dealer by imprisoning the addict he preys upon. It’s obscene! U.K. isn’t the worst country for its treatment of refugees but we should do a lot more to welcome them. We’re learning the truth of this statement:

The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with

Tony Benn

If we really want to stop refugees from coming here we could start by spending more on foreign aid instead of bombs, so people don’t need to flee their homelands in the first place.

If we can find the money to kill people, we can find lthe money to help people.

Tony Benn

We should provide safe and legal routes for refugees to seek asylum in the U.K., as is their right under international law. The present government are making it impossible to claim asylum by refusing to even consider those arriving in this country by the only means available to them!

This is not a problem for the U.K. alone and we shouldn’t abrogate responsibility because we’ve left the EU. Some take in more refugees than the U.K. while others (ie Italy) have far more draconian measures. We should work with other European governments to ensure that each takes in their fair share of refugees and don’t allow people to drown because governments refuse to take responsibility for saving them and persecute those NGOs who do 😠

We should provide decent accommodation for asylum seekers while their claims are being assessed, the process needs to speeded up and they should be allowed to work while they’re waiting so they can support themselves. They’re human beings and deserve to be treated as such!

There is some good news. Donations to RNLI tripled following the diatribe by Farage and Grimes. Priti Patel’s idea that Border Force officers might be given immunity if they allow a refugee to drown is likely to be ignored as it is in flagrant breach of international law. “I was only obeying orders” was rejected as a defence about 75 years ago!

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