Circling The Welcome Wagons: Refugees & The Con-Dem Cuts

[First published in The Morning Star, 25/06/2011]

The Con-Dem coalition were full of fine words last weekend, as NGOs across the country prepared for the launch of Refugee Week.

“The British tradition of welcoming genuine refugees to this country is a great one, and I hope we continue to show this generosity of spirit in the future,” David Cameron declaimed over the piercing shriek of a Daily Mail dogwhistle.

The PM – who just months ago accused refugee communities of “not really wanting or even willing to integrate” – even sent immigration minister Damian Green to go meet and greet with locals at the Northern Refugee Centre in Sheffield.

Green was of course “delighted” to attend. His hosts may have been less enthusiastic, given they are set to lose literally half their budget and paid staff to public funding cuts in the next three months.

But Green would have been hard pressed to find a warm welcome anywhere: despite Cameron’s talk of tradition, the Con-Dems’ cuts to public services amount to a systematic segregation of refugees and asylum seekers from the society Cameron supposedly wants them to join. Read the rest of this entry »