'Bunch of migrants' reference demeans the office of Prime Minister
Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron responds to the "bunch of migrants" reference by David Cameron in PMQs today and calls on the Prime Minister to visit the squalid camps in Calais & Dunkirk.
In PMQs today I raised the issue of orphaned child refugees who had made treacherous journeys to Europe and who are now facing bitter winters in less than ideal conditions, vulnerable to traffickers and sexual exploitation. Again I called on Cameron to accept 3,000 of these children, Britain’s fair share, something I have been campaigning on with Save the Children for months now. I should have anticipated the response – after all he’d just referred to these same vulnerable children as a “bunch of migrants.” Reports now suggest that this was a pre-prepared line, frankly whether or not it was prepared in advance or an off-the-cuff remark, it demeans the Prime Minister’s office and our country and shows Cameron’s vein really do run blue.
This isn’t the first time Cameron’s language has got him into trouble, last year he described refugees fleeing for their lives as a “swarm”. Parliamentarians, NGOs and the general public all condemned his choice of words then but it looks like our Prime Minister has not learnt his lesson. His spokesperson this time round tried to defend his boss by claiming that the language was not the important thing here – instead he said “The prime minister thinks that the key thing here is to get the policies right”. However, it is clear that David Cameron’s prejudice has clouded his thinking and he is getting the policies all wrong.
He’s passed a great deal of judgement on these people whether they are waiting in Greece for a European country to step up and take them in or living in squalid camps in Calais or Dunkirk, but has he ever met these people? Has he sat down with them to hear their stories and past? The hopes they have for the future? No, he hasn’t. I have been to Lesbos and Calais and met young children all alone who have lost their families on the way and parents who escaped war with their kids to give them a chance of a peaceful life and I challenge him to do the same. Once he has heard these stories, once he has seen it first-hand I guarantee he won’t see them as a “bunch of migrants” or a “swarm” anymore. Will his prejudice let him take that first step?
Tim Farron is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats & the MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale