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A humane and sensible suggestion – and the bile produced in response

July 31, 2009

I’m not totally naive – I’m well aware that plenty of people would find my concern for the well-being of asylum-seekers anathema – but I’m struggling to express the depth of my shock at the outpouring of bile provoked by a comment piece in the Independent yesterday.

Asylum seekers welcome here badge.

Asylum seekers welcome here badge.

The piece was reacting to the depressing news that the Government wants to cut benefit payments for asylum seekers from £46.16 to £35.13. Despite what the Daily Hate and its readers say, our asylum system is shocking. We’re not talking about Polish plumbers coming in and offering their services (not that I have a problem with that either), we’re talking about people fleeing their homelands for fear of rape, torture or state-sanctioned murder. They come here, not for our jobs, or to leech money from tax-payers, but for sanctuary from danger. And we treat them like criminals or as if they posed a danger to us. They get stuck, waiting for a decision on their future, for six or seven years, forced to live on benefits, because we won’t let them work until the system spits them out the other end.

The Independent’s leader writer was suggesting that asylum seekers are given the right to work while they await a decision on their future – thus removing the burden on the tax-payers and allowing asylum seekers to contribute to our economy. The response? A vile torrent of bigotry and hatred, the usual canards about Them taking Our jobs etc. It made me ashamed to be British. These people may be British (or as regular readers of spEak You’re bRanes would know – English), but they’re on a different planet to me (at least I wish they were).

God knows, if your own life is less than peachy, it’s easy to blame everyone else for your troubles, but reading such hatred left me feeling queasy. If you haven’t already checked out Hope not Hate, please do so today. I’ve also found a website selling anti-racism and pro-asylum seeker badges, (5 for£3 – £4 by PayPal) – buy some and share with friends! And, of course, write to your MP, and tell them in no uncertain terms that you disappove of the plans to cut benefits for asylum seekers.

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