Monday, 10 April 2017

The times we live in.

Here's a headline that struck me in the Guardian online this morning:

"Most asylum seekers put in poorer parts of Britain, data shows".

 My first reaction: what a stupid thing to do, send people in need to areas in need. That will really help sort things out. Although it quite often works out that people who are themselves struggling understand better e problems of others. On the other hand, it's a recipe for building up resentment, fuelling those who say that immigrants get everything for free!

My second reaction: well, I bet it's because there is cheaper housing in those areas.

And so I read on and got some details. More than five times as many asylum seekers live in the poorest third of the country as in the richest third, according to this Guardian analysis. Labour's Yvette Cooper says the way asylum seekers are distributed around Britain a shambles. “You’ve got the asylum hostels concentrated in the lowest income areas and also in a very small number of areas. It’s just not fair to do it that way. It’s not good for community cohesion, it’s not good for local authorities … it also creates a sense of resentment.”

She went on to say Cooper that the problems stemmed from a change of policy in 2012 by the Conservatives, which saw the contracts for housing asylum seekers privatised and given to G4S, Serco and Clearsprings. She said these contracts, and the reduced money they were given to execute them, inevitably meant that companies sought to procure cheap housing in poor parts of the country. There you go! Just as I thought!

Rochdale, a couple of stops up the M62 from us is one of those poor areas referred to. Some years ago McDonald's pulled out of Rochdale; that's how rundown the place is. Or so the story goes!

It has an impressive town hall and a lot of closed shops. And one asylum seeker for every 200 inhabitants.

In asylum Britain, there is apparently a rule: no town should have more than one asylum seeker for every 200 people. In Rochdale, the ratio is 0.99 per 200 - the most in England. For the local MP it is “far, far far too many".

It's somehow symptomatic of the topsy-turvy nature of the world at the moment.

Here's another example. The Trump administration is considering a new "extreme vetting" policy which would mean that tourists from places like the Uk, Germany, France and probably others would be asked to hand over personal information such as social media passwords and mobile phone contacts or run the risk of being denied entry to the land of the free. They might also be asked to disclose financial information and be subjected to ideological questioning. The Customs and Border Protection people maintain that “keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the US." 

It's just as well I wasn't thinking of going there.

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