‘Shouldn’t we be ashamed of ourselves?’

Those words came from Alf Dubs; a man with experience of fleeing your country, but luckily for us, being welcomed, or at least allowed, in when he arrived in Britain all those years ago.

I don’t always enjoy Marina Hyde in the Guardian, but Wednesday’s column was one of the good ones. One of the columns that makes one feel ashamed, even when the fault is not one’s own. And her comments about photographs in colour or black and white, and the difference it makes when you look at them, set me thinking about the shoe being on the other foot.

What if ‘nice English people’ were to be stopped at a border somewhere, in desperate need of help, having to queue, and possibly not be allowed in. Because the receiving country is not being friendly. But I don’t believe that our ‘leading politicians’ are capable of seeing themselves, or anyone they care about, in such a situation.

Fiction is good at making you see things that are not necessarily real. Yet. It’s almost exactly nine years since I reviewed After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross. It’s still bone-chillingly current. And it’s five years since I felt I had to publish the review again, because of what was happening.

There are probably other novels about poor British people throwing themselves on the mercies of their European neighbours, but this is my go-to example. I’m just so sorry that it has to be.

And even if we, in this country, don’t ever have to escape to some other place, surely we could welcome [quite] a few from elsewhere? They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have to. It’s especially telling that not even these nice white, and similar to us, refugees are welcomed with open arms, after the discussions in the media about why ‘we’ like them so much better than the Syrians, say, or anyone else fleeing from a more distant country.


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