“Put. Up. This. Wall.”
(…or, y’know, please please don’t)
I know the title of this post is probably hugely misleading. So, just to clarify - no, I’m not for the putting up of walls to secure borders… I just couldn’t resist the chance to use an Arrested Development quote in a policy blog. And Trump’s idea of putting up a wall between the US and Mexico is probably almost as funny as when the Bluth’s try to do so. (Or at least is was funny when it seemed the chances of him getting elected were miniscule…)
So reading that the new immigration minister, Robert Goodwill (ikr, what a name for a Tory MP) is planning to put up a £1.9m, 4 metre-high, wall in Calais to secure our border was, er, surprising. And confusing.
This guy has been in the job for <3 months, and he’s talked to the leading expert on the campaign like once! I’d still be questioning this even if there’d been months of discussions and planning, but no - he’s that confident this is a good plan.
I just can’t quite understand how, when the problem is that immigrants from the Calais camp are risking their lives by throwing themselves onto lorries to get into Britain, the solution is to spend millions on border security rather than measures to help and support these people in crisis. Maybe this is incredibly naive of me, and most likely a huge oversimplification of such a massive problem, but why do we so often opt for punitive measures over compassionate ones!? After all - why are those people in ‘The Jungle’ (as the Calais Camp is horrifically called) in the first place? They’re fleeing poverty, war, insecurity, death… They’re not leaving their families and homes to come and mooch off our welfare state, as some suggest is largely the case. They’re just desperate. And the more desperate people get, the more drastic the measures they’re willing to take are likely to be. Is a wall really going to stop them trying?
“When you put walls up anywhere in the world, people find ways to go round them. It’s a waste of money. It could make it more dangerous for people, it will push up tariffs for people smugglers and people will end up taking more risks.”
Only a few weeks ago there were reports that the Calais camp was struggling to cope with the large numbers of new arrivals, and running out of food fast. Voluntary organisations are having to manage this crisis - wouldn’t it be better to spend some of that £17 million here instead?
Of course, some have criticised ‘the left’ for their disapproval of the wall, and their comparison of it to Trump’s plans for a wall in Mexico (hmm, yeah… sorry about that). But the suggestion that anyone who considers the Calais wall to be a waste of time and money is just an idealistic left-wing loony, is equally foolish. There are a host of reasons for why this wall is an absurd idea, and the Trump-Goodwill comparison is just a hilariously devastating reality.
Obviously - for the sake of the drivers whose lorries are being targeted - something does need to be done. I just don’t know that “the great wall of Calais” is the best solution. The association representing British truck drivers going through Calais doesn’t even think it’s a good idea, describing the project as “a waste of money”, suggesting efforts should be put into increasing security in other ways.
This feels like a reckless, impulsive decision. More symbolic than practical in its purpose. Basically, another way of telling the world that our government lacks sense, patience, humanitarianism and compassion.