Jeff Smith

Standing up for Manchester Withington

Time To Take Action

In the last few weeks it's been my privilege to meet with members of Manchester's Syrian community, who have established the Rethink Rebuild Society to provide a voice for Syrian people and campaign on Syrian issues.

They have produced a thoughtful and interesting policy document with a set of proposals for British domestic and foreign policy, which I'll post a link to when the finalised document is published. 

One of the proposals is to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees to the UK through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme.

It's time for us to do this.

The desperate situation faced by the Syrian people has been brought into focus by the heartbreaking scenes we have witnessed in recent days. We now face probably the most serious humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. It's time for the UK to step up and show compassion and leadership on this issue, because the response by our country and by most EU countries has so far been insufficient.  We must take our share of people who are fleeing the most desperate circumstances in the hope of nothing more than safety and a decent life for themselves and their families.

I'm pleased that senior Labour figures are speaking out on behalf of them (http://www.yvetteforlabour.co.uk/letter_to_david_cameron) because the response of David Cameron yesterday was woefully inadequate. Yes, of course we need to stabilise the situation in Syria and work for a long term solution. But we can't wait for that to happen, because this crisis is happening now. 

When parliament returns next week, Labour will be raising the issue at the first opportunity, and calling for the government (with the help of Councils)  to take concerted action to address the issue. 

I'm supporting calls for the UK to step up and take responsibility, and to take a fair share of people looking for our help.

I'd urge people to sign the following petition to parliament calling for action on the crisis.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

Rethink Rebuild are holding a protest in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, tomorrow (Friday 4th), the details of which are here

http://www.rrsoc.org/upcoming-events

This country has a long record of supporting people fleeing war and persecution. Now is a time to continue that proud tradition.

Reactions

commented 2015-09-09 20:13:22 +0100
+JasonGreen
the point I was trying to make is that
1) Britain’s history in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine is really awful. Much of the current mess had it’s backdrop laid – and armed – by ourselves. We must care for the casualties we have helped create.

2) If we took 75000 a year during the break up of Yugoslavia, why should it only be 20000 over 5 years today? The race card is perhaps over stepping the mark, but I don’t understand why we should be compassionate during one disaster and uncaring during another.

3) Yes, multiculturalism is a massive challenge. The world is becoming globalised and that means everyone’s dogmas and superstitions will be challenged, ours and theirs. We should be proud to be a place where conversations about culture, both when it is life giving and life-suffocating, can be had in a respectful context with a love of human rights at its’ heart.

apologies if my language was unnecessarily inflammatory.

Let us, at all costs, maintain a spirit of kindness and compassion.
commented 2015-09-08 19:29:47 +0100
astonishing comments no solution just let them in? & some one mention the race card absolutely pathetic comment yet no solution? do you really think by letting people in will make the situation any better no it wouldn’t, it has made Britain over crowded country as it is, the problem stems from their own country’s which lies with their own government’s, alot of unrest with the british people as in the small village i was from was causing unrest with culture differences being able to adapt to british law and living all i can say is don’t push me as i’m close to the edge springs to mind with the majority of the british public! one last comment if you are that bother then go to their country’s and see if you can make a difference? magic wand springs to mind!
commented 2015-09-07 13:30:11 +0100
We let in 75000 refugees a year from Yugoslavia for three years. Why is this crisis any different? If anything we have more responsibility to help: our hands our bloodied as ISIS use our weapons given to Libyan rebels or captured from Iraq, and our shameful history in the middle east after the break up of the Ottoman empire. Is it because these people do not have white skin? Or their religion? What has changed?
commented 2015-09-06 15:28:48 +0100
I think 10,000 is too few. Also I am concerned that the crisis is not used as a justification for further bombing in Syria and the involvement of UK forces. The Labour Party was right to vote against the UK’s involvement except in the situation where there is an international consensus to use ground troops linked to a nation rebuilding strategy.
commented 2015-09-04 08:38:55 +0100
Appreciate your post on this; have signed the petition, I think this is a top priority for Parliament to debate next week. Britain has a proud history of caring for refugees and welcoming outsiders – long may this continue.
commented 2015-09-03 21:54:39 +0100
Please allow Britain to be a real refuge for the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
Thanks
Leah Gilman
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