THE national tabloids are often berated here for their intransigence with regards to migrants, so it is only fair to stop amid the rush of inky meanness to praise one such newspaper (other publications may receive a kicking in a paragraph or two).
The dismantling of the migrant camp in Calais is featured on many pages this morning. The Daily Mirror celebrates the arrival of the child refugees, pointing out in its editorial that they are likely to grow up to be engineers, lawyers and entrepreneurs of great benefit to the UK. “The Jungle is a stain on humanity and must close, so it is right a country as great as ours does its bit,” the Mirror concludes.
Meanwhile, a leader in the Daily Mail argues that the incoming refugees are likely to grow up to be rapists, murderers and con-merchants (well, I haven’t looked but it would hardly be surprising).
What the Mail does say is delivered in one of its shouted front-page headlines, stamped out in black capital letters – “YOU PAY £36M FOR CALAIS CLEAROUT.” As is usually the way, the Mail turns its headline into a bellowed accusation. I don’t know who this unlucky person – “YOU” – might be. Your country needs YOU to stump up 36 million quid to sort out a load of foreigners. Of course, it is not a single ‘you’ but a massed ‘you’ designed to make readers feel aggrieved about the rotten unfairness of the world. Using the pronoun of the second person in its plural sense is a typical Mail tactic, setting the sainted us against the massed hordes of them.
Meanwhile, the Daily Express opts for its own pained exclamation: “NEW MIGRANT SHAMBLES IN CALAIS.” The basis for this headline lies in fears that other migrant camps may spring up when the so-called Jungle is taken apart. The inhabitants are being bussed around France with some ending up in small rural villages, as seen on the BBC news last night.
Governments of all persuasions waste money on many things, with untold billions recently being promised for Trident missiles of little practical use or benefit. So, it seems fair enough that we should do our bit to sort out the human mass of suffering in Calais. This is Europe’s problem and chipping in to help sort it out is a civilised act.
Far less civilised has been the sniping about the age of the young arrivals, as much reported last week – and much regretted on this here ledge
The squalid camp is being dismantled by the French authorities today. This is a good thing, although even a squalid camp can become home, and while many refugees are glad to be leaving, others are said to be distraught. In many senses, France is doing this for symbolic reasons rather than humanitarian ones. The camp wasn’t only a humanitarian nightmare: it was a highly visible symbol of the problem, whereas portioning up the migrants could be seen, in image terms, as a piece of tidying up.
The problem of people from poor or unstable countries wishing to move to wealthier and more stable ones isn’t going to disappear by breaking up one camp. In that sense the Daily Express may be factually right, if morally in the wrong, as usual.