The issue of how to respond to refugees fleeing from the war in Syria has been rumbling on for months, but became far more of an issue last week because of photographs of the body of toddler Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach and media coverage of groups of refugees travelling across Hungary.

The coverage provoked a strong reaction on social media and led to petitions and campaigns in favour of Britain doing more to welcome more Syrian refugees to the country. There was a perception that public opinion had shifted in favour of doing more to help Syrian refugees as a result of the emotive photographs. However, social media is not necessarily reflective of wider public opinion, people making a noise and signing petitions are not necessarily reflective of those keeping quiet. Is there any actual hard evidence that people have become more welcoming towards Syrian refugees… or did that proportion of British people who have always welcomed refugees just speak up more vocally?

Since last week there have been polls from ComRes, Survation and YouGov asking about whether Britain should accept more Syrian refugees:

ComRes for Newsnight (tabs) asked if Britain should take more or fewer refugees from Syria and Libya than it currently does – 40% said more, 31% fewer, 26% about the same. A later question asked if Britain was taking its fair share of responsibility to deal with people coming to Europe from Syria, and found a pretty similar split: 39% said Britain wasn’t doing enough, 22% too much, 36% about the right amount.

Survation for the Mail on Sunday (tabs) asked how many Syrian refugees people thought Britain should accept: 29% said none at at all, 27% less than 10,000, 15% 10,000, 9% more than 10,000. They also asked specifically about Yvette Cooper’s suggestion of each local authority taking 10 families – 35% supported, 42% opposed.

Finally YouGov asked some questions split between the Sun, ITN and their own site (tabs here, here and here). They found 50% of people said that Britain should be doing more to deal with the migrant crisis… but of course, “doing more” does not necessarily equate to letting more people in. Some respondents could have imagined doing more as meaning doing more to help refugees in camps in the Middle East, or doing more to prevent refugees getting into Europe. Asking specifically about the number of Syrian refugees that should be allowed into Britain 36% said that we accept a higher number of refugees from Syria, 24% about the same number, 27% fewer or none at all.

YouGov also asked how many Syrian families should be allowed into Britain, but most respondents said don’t know (perhaps because YouGov asked about families, rather than individuals, or perhaps because the Survation survey had already asked about Yvette Cooper’s proposal of 10,000, so respondents had a reference point for their answer). 22% said Britain should not accept any Syrian refugee families, 14% less than 10,000, 8% more than 10,000.

Overall the three points paint a pretty consistent picture. A significant minority of the British public want the country to accept more refugees from Syria, but it is a minority. Most people think the current numbers are about right or we should admit even less, a significant minority would like to accept none at all.

But even if most people don’t want to accept more Syrian refugees, did last week’s harrowing coverage increase support for accepting Syrian refugees at all? YouGov found 9% of people said seeing the images of Aylan Kurdi changed their view and made them think we should accept more refugees, however I’m always rather dubious about such questions. What we really need is a question that was asked before and after to see how views have changed. The only one I can find is in this YouGov poll. Way back in May 29% of people agreed with the statement that the UK should be a place of refuge for Syrian refugees, when that was reasked last week it had gone up to 41%. With four months between the figures it’s not possible to pin it upon a single event, but it does look as if people have indeed become significantly more positive towards the idea of accepting refugees from Syria over the last few months… opinion just hasn’t moved so much that a majority would welcome more Syrian refugees.

464 Responses to “Has Britain become more welcoming towards refugees?”

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  1. Well, I’ve certainly become more accepting towards the refugees over the past week. I like to think I am representative of the electorate at large…

  2. Got any figures on Pandas? Apparently they are important…

  3. The gift that keeps on giving.

  4. @John Pilgrim

    “While you are here for your two days spell of slumming, could I get your take on the categorisation of migrants and its implications for immigration policy, and notably for its relevance to joining the EU Agenda programme.”

    I apologise for leaving you off my list of posters I always enjoyed reading. That was an omission on my part because your rather ornate prose and thoughts on politics were often a delight. As for your question about the categorisation of migrants, while I’m not fully au fait with the EU Agenda programme, I have been interested in how the nomenclature used by politicians has shifted as the crisis has grown and public perceptions have evolved. Marauding swarms, cockroaches even, have become desperate human beings fleeing a war zone and searching for sanctuary and the tantalising chance of a better life. Politicians have tried to stay on the philanthropic and compassionate side of the argument, whilst doffing their caps to those nervous about the country’s ability to cope with a sudden influx of refugees looking to settle in this country. These are the people susceptible to the notion of being “swamped” and their tolerance threshold is relatively low. It will only take a few Mail and Sun articles on refugee families getting preferential treatment on jobs and houses for the whole thing to turn on its head. “They’re coming here, taking our jobs blah de blah…” This emotion can be easily aroused and politicians are fearful of it. Our old friends, Mr and Mrs Swing-Voter from Mondeo-ville have a habit of conflating immigration with asylum seeking and are sceptical about the age old tradition of civilised and affluent countries offering refuge to those fleeing war and persecution. They’re more likely to perceive these people as benefit tourists and/or economic migrants wanting to earn a few easy quid to send home to their feckless families. Probably coming here to leech off the NHS too. This is often construed as being a “soft touch” and woe betide politicians who let the UK become one of those. Bleeding heart liberals and all that.

    I’ve learned rather painfully over the years that it’s very unwise to over-estimate the compassion and generosity of the British public.

  5. “They also asked specifically about Yvette Cooper’s suggestion of each local authority taking 10 families – 35% supported, 42% opposed.”

    According to Google, there are 433 local authorities in the UK, and the question said that Cooper’s suggestion would mean accepting 10,000 refugees total so that would require an average family size of 2.3. I have no idea if that’s realistic or not.

    However, unless I’m reading the wrong figure (page 3 of The Sun survey 3rd/4rth September) excluding DK’s there were 51.8% opposed, 16.9% thinking that this was too little, and 31.3% thinking that this was about right.

  6. I noted that all the published tables on this topic seemed to show polls with remarkably few questions.

    I presume that, in reality, they were part of longer polls – with questions we don’t know about.

    Could it be that these questions predisposed people to answer the refugee/migrant questions in a particular way?

  7. @Bill P

    “The gift that keeps on giving.”


    You brought it up…

  8. Carfrew,

    As part of a serious discussion of polling.


    I wouldn’t have thought so- couldn’t you ask other questions, like party affiliation, first?

  9. It isn’t just the initial “influx” of refugees that needs examination, but how we then treat such as orphans when they turn 18.

    Interesting commentary from Politics.Co.UK

    Earlier this year, about 600 young Afghans were returned to the country. They’d arrived in the UK as unaccompanied children years before. They were educated here, put down roots here and made friends here. Most of them have no family which they know of in Afghanistan. But they turned 18, so the UK government shipped them back to a war zone – a country in which its own ministers say there is no possibility of safe return.

    Once returned, there was very little UK government assistance on the other end. Most of the work was done by the Refugee Support Network.

    Many of these young people have found their way to Calais, in a desperate bid to get back into Britain, the place they grew up in and the only home they’ve ever known. So when people ask about why these refugees don’t claim asylum in France – this is one of the many reasons why. They are Brits, in everything but their passport.

  10. What is it with Scots peeps and all this censorship? Don’t mention the oil, don’t mention the pandas, don’t quote Salmond. Is the currency still ok?



    I tend to find peeps can disappoint when you might expect them to help, and then help when you least expect it. But maybe that’s just me…

  11. Bill Patrick

    I was assuming that they DID ask other questions! Whether these came first or not, we have no idea. They may have had no influence on the refugee/migrant questions at all – but my point is that we don’t know, an it seems unwise just to assume that these questions just stood on their own, and not subject to the possible effects of other questions.

  12. Regarding the refugee/migrant nomenclature issue (as commented many places in the media and brought up by Crossbat), isn’t it particularly relevant to the current situation because of the logistics of the journeys people are making or attempting to make?

    If someone leaves Syria for Turkey, fearing for life and limb, presumably almost everyone would categorise them as a refugee. In Turkey maybe they are in a refugee camp and feel unwelcome, but no longer fearing for their life. If they leave Turkey for Greece is that an act of refuge-seeking, or economic migrancy? Greece is in the EU, but famously a little bit bankrupt! If someone travels from Greece through the Balkans into Hungary, is it economic migrancy at that stage? What about if they get on a train to leave Hungary for Germany or Sweden, places with higher-living standards and perhaps they perceive as more welcoming? Is that still the act of a refugee fleeing persecution? I imagine it’s somewhat of a personal decision as to where one draws the line.

    If the situation was different and people were fleeing to the UK from a war in Norway or Iceland, Ireland or the Netherlands, would it be different? Alternatively, if people were arriving on planes directly from the country of origin, would the distinction be as much of an issue? Presumably there would still be some economic migrancy mixed up with the refuge-seeking, but it would be much harder to visualise it in those cases!

  13. Carmichael case at Election Court.

    Motion to dismiss arguments and rebuttal now heard, and we await the ruling on which (if any) of the Carmichael QC’s legal arguments will be accepted. [1]

    Essentially there are 3 arguments (essentially those previously identified by Peat Worrier and other legal commentators) and the petition falls if any of them are accepted.

    Peat Worrier’s assessment – “Overall? Petitioners have an arguable case. Carmichael has a legally powerful but politically problematic reply. Outcome? Who knows.”

    [1] It was nice to hear Lady Paton using the old Scots phrase “We’ll take it to Avizandum” (meaning – we’ll think about it and let you know in due course). It was a popular phrase among women of my Mum’s generation, when asked for something. It usually meant you had no chance!

  14. @ Popeye

    Breaking my self-imposed silence, which I will follow after this …

    Considering that London has the second largest Hungarian population in the world, well, it’s difficult to argue that Hungary is a safe heaven for the refugees.

    Anyway, according to the Geneva convention, as Hungary cannot provide adequate services for the asylum seekers (keeping them out of shelter for hours at 3-7 degrees is certainly not adequate) because somebody stole the money transferred, and the Hungarian government refused UN Aid, because it encourages migration, so no, they remain refugees in Hungary.

    The whole thing is quite complicated, but only because Germany forced a change of rules after the Kosovan crisis, they even changed the constitution for this.

    Anyway, it’s more interesting (but not more important) how it affects the church in Hungary. One of the Hungarian Catholic bishops declared in the Washington Post that the Pope is not infallible (after 150 years of such a prerogative) and that it’s time for a new crusade, and the archbishop, Cardinal of the Hungarian church declared that God’s laws are inferior to Orbán’s laws (he was desselected after this to chair the council of bishops, although it wasn’t the only reason), while the abbot of Pannonhalma breached the law by helping refugees.

    The important is that a lot of people are on the road and winter comes early on the Balkans. And unless the West and Russia bight the bullet, and start an offensive … The number of immigrants will increase. You should see Arabic social media how they praise Merkel …

    Back to silence.

  15. Bight is of course bite …

  16. Oh indeed you might argue that, Laszlo. But others might not.

    The point is because the flow is (in the eyes of the general public at least) from wartorn hellholes *through* progressively more hospitable countries finally arriving at the promised land of wealthy, north-west Europe, it gives rise to the idea of a cut-off between refugee and economic migrant for any single person making that journey.

    Some people will think that refugees (from Syria say) become economic migrants when they leave the immediate border country they entered (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon); some will think that the bordering countries aren’t fit for anyone to take refuge in, and that refugees only start acting on economic grounds if they decide to leave the European fringe countries they were entitled to flee to (Greece, Italy); some will think that Greece isn’t the place to be right now and could understand refugees passing through to take refuge in south-eastern European states (Hungary, Balkan countries); some will say that those countries still don’t offer good enough refuge and that they should move through to the richest countries (Germany, Netherlands, UK, Scandinavian countries).

    Wherever you personally draw the line is relevant only to you, every member of the public will have their own view. The fact that the general flow is *through* all of those countries simply means that people can, and will, assess the refugee behaviour against their own personal opinions of where is safe enough for them to stop (anything beyond that being seen as economic migrancy). If the situation was one where people tended to end up straight in their destination country from a warzone, then no-one would be able to make that judgement against their opinions of suitable countries!

    I don’t think that even those in Germany, say, who are happy to see the migrant trail end in their country (as a wealthy nation that can help those in need) are overly keen to make the argument as to why the migrants should keep going until they get to them, because it basically means arguing that all their EU partners along the way are not fit places for refugees to seek sanctuary. Even if they think it’s true, it’s kind of awkward!

  17. POPEYE et al

    The European Commission, which has since May set up and started its Agenda programme ( does not make a distinction between refugees and economic migrants, for two reasons: there is no clear distinction: economic migrants are often the second generation of conflict related land loss and exploitation or break-downs in governance, which deny a population access to the means of livelihoods; and the response to both has to be logistically the same: the provisiion of security, shelter, care and livelihoods, and a safe future for them and their families.
    Moreover, sound planning and management has to provide the means of contribution to the econonomy and well being of the receiving country and population to be sustainable, eventually to remove categorisation as refugee, very evident in, for example, the absorption of the East African Indian and the Hungarian absorption into our society.
    Political discussion about making this distinction are poorly informed and risk causing difficulty and misconceptions in operation. Especially so since it is – regardless of general opinion – it is only a minority of the population who, for reasons of their own economic position and awareness, can make an active contribution to receiving and caring for refugees and economic migrants, reflected in the opinion polls.

  18. Laszlo

    When you say ‘the church’ you seem to mean only the Roman one. Look up what the Reformed Church in Hungary is saying regarding the migrants.

  19. @Oldnat

    I gather there’s a number of empty flats in Aberdeen with the oil crash.Just right for the Syrians.

  20. POPEYE

    @” If they leave Turkey for Greece is that an act of refuge-seeking, or economic migrancy?”

    A very good question.

    And as I understand it , the very question you will be asked by UNHCR if awaiting official UN refugee status.

    Presumably the risks of a trafficker’s dinghy across the Aegean are being weighed against the advantage of escaping an unwelcome ruling on UN status.

    Now , of course, the hopeful migrant following that route knows that with Germany as the final destination , all risks of non-acceptance are dispensed with.
    And we read the news that travel agents in Tripoli have reported a 30% rise in bookings for a one-way sea passage to Turkey.International Organisation for Migration reports a doubling of numbers of Syrians embarking Tripoli for Turkey and 20% increase in air ticket sales.

    So-are these Syrians; -safe if uncomfortable in Lebanon; with enough money for the ticket to Turkey, still the refugees they were in Lebanon-or economic migrants bound for certain entry into the German economy ?

  21. Colin,

    Tsk, tsk.. any suggestion that softening the policy re: accepting migrants represents a “Pull Factor” is deeply racist and you should be ashamed of yourself. We should in fact be sending passenger ferries directly to the region to bring everyone living there to the EU forthwith.

    Or something.

  22. The UK government’s concentration on the 4million Syrian refugees in the region does at least have the virtue of remembering where the problem lies.
    The virtue signalling & compassion fest generated by the photograph of one dead child was noticeably absent at the deaths of the many hundreds of children lying at the bottom of the western.Mediterranean.

    Unless & until Syria is returned to a state where its people can live in peace & security, its displaced millions will test & overwhelm the EU’s capacity to think strategically & act in concert.

    During DC’s Syria statement in the HoC , Corbyn asked a very interesting question about the possibility of a “rehabilitated” Iran taking part in an international conference to “solve” the Syrian war crisis.

    Putin must have smiled when he watched the clip, as he prepares his own endgame for Syria :-

    Joint action by Russia/Iran/ The West to arm & support a crushing defeat of ISIS by the only armed forces capable of doing it-Assad’s. Followed by a power-sharing government in Syria which maintains the Russian/Iranian puppet regime in power.

    Peace reigns & the migrants return-even those who fled Assad’s chemicals & barrel bombs presumably.

    Here lies the fate of Syria’s displaced millions , and the real test for the EU-not the sideshow of a few hundred thousand middle class Syrians making a fuss about getting to Germany.

    We will get a flavour of this test when DC faces a Labour party lead by Jeremy Corbyn.

  23. NEILA

    @”We should in fact be sending passenger ferries directly to the region ”

    Well that would be the honest & most decent thing for Germany to do.

    At present the open door in Germany is the last stage in a process which starts with the overwhelming of two small Greek islands & the further burdening of that benighted countries public finances.

    And those ferries should go to Lebanon-not Turkey. It’s population has exploded by 25% as a result of refugees from Assad & ISIS.

  24. Good morning all from Mount Florida for now but in a couple of weeks time it will be “Good morning from Central London” as my transfer has been accepted by the company who i work for to their new London offices. Thankfully it will be a relatively short commute from Maida Vale into central London each morning.

    Okay refuges, migrants, swarms, economic migrants , Asylum seekers…the situation is getting out of hand. The majority who are in real need of help are not fleeing simply because they can’t.

    Yes there are genuine asylum seekers fleeing from war torn countries arriving in Europe but who else are among the hundreds of thousands arriving in Europe? How many terrorists will take advantages of the situation?

    I really do worry that what we are seeing now is a sign of things to come and in the near future we will see millions fleeing from poorer but stable counties under the banner of asylum seekers who in reality are driven by economics, social security and free housing.

    Germany said it will accept up to 500,000 migrants a year and Merkal even admitted that this will change the very future of Germany itself.

    I find that very worrying and although i’m not against immigration or protecting those who really need our help, I find the sheer volume of people coming into Europe over such a short period of time will lead to civil unrest and see a rise of the far right across Europe.

    What happens if the the government in Egypt collapses and leads to civil war? population 90 million… Sudan population 40 million and there is an ongoing conflict there. Do we take in millions more?

    I saw the images of the little boy washed up on the beach and his fathers interview where he has now been allowed asylum to Canada but has declined it because he feels he has nothing to live for. I’ve also seen watched the disgusting behavior of the Hungarian police treat refuges as if they were cattle but despite all of this I don’t see the correct solution to the migrant crises is to accept millions into Europe.

    It has to be tackled at source and if it means keeping dictators in power then so be it because as we have seen toppling dictators in the name of democracy has failed spectacularly. Better the devil you know!!

  25. This is a very interesting link to present day conflicts across the entire World. Over 1 billion people live in a country that is either at war with another country or at war with itself.

    If only 5% of the people in the those countries took up Germany’s goodwill then we would see 50 million people making their way to Europe and the West.

    People are going to take advantage of the silk road to Berlin and it’s going to be chaotic.

  26. Sorry I forgot to post the link..

  27. @ John B

    Indeed, the Roman Catholic one (but Caritas has been very active in helping them). The Protestant churches were quite slow in the beginning, but now (especially the Evangelists) are also active.

    Its importance derives from the underdeveloped civil society organisations in Hungary (although it has been improving in the last 25 years), and thus religious charity organisations remain extremely important be the issue poverty, or (as now) refugee crisis.

  28. Just to show the complexity of the situation, and the massive propaganda to support self interests from all directions.
    Two days ago, the minister for human resources of Hungary said in Brussels, that in the last two years the Hungarian government settled a thousand Christian families from the near and Middle East in secret, and gave them citizenship,
    The EU criticises Hungary (rightly) for the wall, but there is no criticism for the Spanish or the Bulgarian one.
    Merkel’s generous offer is of course economic self interest, but until the Kosovan crisis the German constitution stated that anyone who flees to Germany from persecution would receive asylum. The first safe country rule was introduced after then.
    The Hungarian PM gave a speech to his embassadors in which he said that we don’t ask the West to live together with a large Roma minority so why do they ask us to live with Muslims …
    I know it is very difficult, but a large population comes towards Europe from traditions of family business, aspiration, and education. It is an opportunity even if it’s a burden right now.

  29. @Colin

    Merkel has opened the door for every country to flush its surplus population to Germany.

  30. Germany has a declining populationbcompared to ours, and around 2050 we were set to overtake them and become the largest population in Western Europe. Maybe that won’t happen now…

  31. Unless…

  32. …we do summat similar to counter…

  33. Interesting that public opinion hasn’t flipped despite the extraordinary glut of what can only be described as empathy reporting by the media, without even a pretence of balance and objectivity. It’s been a frightening lesson in how far the BBC and other major news providers have drifted away from balance and into an emotive style of reporting that ignores inconvenient facts in favour of furthering a cause. Friends and family in Germany tell me that there is widespread anger, fear and bewilderment towards Merkel’s on-the-hoof open door policy but this has been entirely omitted from the BBC narrative, unless I’ve missed something?.


    Absolutely agree with your comment.

    The media are only showing one side of the refugee crises and totally ignoring many millions across Europe who are deeply concerned about the amount and who exactly are coming.

    The UK is turning into such a knee-jerk and political correct society and anyone who appears to have a concern over the amount of asylum seekers and economic migrants trying to get into the UK are labeled as racist.


    Poland has a similar demographic to Germany’s and its population is getting more grey hairs as well but i don’t see the Poles opening the flood gates and offering economic freebies to those wealthy enough to make it to Europe.

    David Cameron has the right approach (IMO) and that is to take in genuine asylum seekers from the camps in and around the conflict zone although I don’t agree with him by removing Assad will make the situation any better and if anything it will only make matters 10 times worse.


    @” I don’t agree with him by removing Assad will make the situation any better and if anything it will only make matters 10 times worse.”

    This is the dilemma .

    Get rid of Assad & you empower ISIS.
    Get rid of ISIS & you empower Assad.

    And refugees are fleeing both of them. They are both murdering Syrians-11 million of whom are currently displaced.That’s the same as the total population of Portugal-or Greece.

    Poor little Aylan Kurdi’s family first fled Assad -from Damascus to Allepo to Kobani-then fled ISIS from Kobani to Turkey.

  37. Latest polls -JC,Trump,Leave,Independence.

    Phew wot a scortcha!

  38. Colin: it is not a dilemma. ISIS are a thousand times worse than Assad was. Any violence committed by Assad was in response to citizenry attempting to overthrow him, egged on by the USA.

    Aylan Kurdi’s family was safe in Turkey. They should have stayed there.

  39. Colin,

    If a military victory for Assad is the least bad option then maybe we need to go along with the RUssian and Iranians in trying to achieve it.

    A bit like being on the same side Joe Stalin in WW2. You don’t have to like your allies.

    On the migration front the worrying thing is the total lack of any strategy from the EU Commission. Sticking plasters like quotas schemes don’t begin to address the underlying problem.

  40. COLIN

    There are many dilemmas in Syria as you have rightly pointed out but what if the West got rid of Assad as they originally intended before the Russians stepped in? Would that had avoided IS sneaking into Syria?

    Look at Iraq, billions of pounds later, invasion by the West, the removal of its dictator, ongoing military support from the West yet despite all of that large parts of Iraq are under IS control and the country right now is in conflict with Turkey in the North. (Kurds)

    Assad warned way way back that if his dictatorship fell then it would open up a powder-keg across Syria and the middle east.
    He’s still in power but severely bruised and look at the mess the area is in even with him still in power. I really do fear if Assad goes then the gates of hell will be unleashed into Europe.

    The Russian’s warned the West over Iraq that removing the despot was the easiest bit, it’s what happens next you have to prepare for and the same goes for Syria.

    Look at Libya, it has imploded ever since its dictator was removed.
    The ongoing conflicts in the middle east can be attributed to many internal and external forces but the irony of it all is that if Iraq, Syria and Libya were still under the full control of their despots then I reckon their populations would be still living a far from perfect but at the same time a much safer country and we would not be seeing the crises unfolding on the shores of Europe as we do today.

    And for what its worth, I 100% agree with DC that the UK should be killing any UK nationals who decide to go and fight for IS. They are a real threat to us back home and I certainly don’t want them back in one piece.

  41. Actually just a thought on IS supporters in the UK.. We should be encouraging them to go to Syria and fight for IS because obviously we can’t bomb them in the UK but in Syria it’s a different matter.

    In fact why don’t we offer them free one way tickets and just think of the training it will give the RAF. It would also save them screeching over Loch Less and targeting poor ole Nessy for target practice.. Matters solved..

  42. #Loch Ness

  43. @Popeye

    The only reason refugees are landing on Greek islands and in the boot of Italy is because they see Europe as one big open continent. Set foot on any part of European soil, get your registration papers and the whole place is open to you thanks to Schengen. You can move around at will. I suppose it’s a bit like landing on Ellis Island a century ago.

    So the Dublin agreement is at odds with Schengen and thus unworkable. One or other has to be scrapped.

    Merkel’s idea of “we’ll take anyone” simultaneously with “we’ll redistribute people around the EU” is also unworkable due to Schengen. Because people will redistribute themselves back.

    Also, Germany isn’t the tolerant place Britain is – there have already been 340 instances of migrants homes and camps being burnt down this year, all in East Germany.

    We’re seeing the kindly people of Munich on the news – but the refugees don’t stay in West Germany, the German govt then moves them on to the empty parts of East Germany, mainly because empty apartment blocks and the like exist there to house them, and the locals don’t like it. Despite 25 years since unification and trillions pumped into their economy, the East Germans don’t think like West Germans. The worst is the state of Saxony, they actually have villages that are entirely Nazi, like Troglitz. The divide between West and East Germany makes the differences between England and Scotland look trivial.

    My feeling is that Merkel said what she did for domestic West German consumption, due to popular feeling there, didn’t realise it would get broadcast across the world, and now doesn’t know how to row back – she keeps trying to dump the problem on other EU states, to their intense annoyance.

    She does so many things solely for populist reasons, that style of governing was bound to bite her at some point.

  44. Anyone taking notice of the left wing virtue signalling [email protected] needs to think again. Didn’t the pollsters do this at the GE ? And look where it got them.

    Anyway, agree with many of the comments and disagree with some.

    Conflating the situation in Calais and in the Med region seems common place if my discussions with friends and acquaintances are representative.

    From what I’ve seen in the media migrants at Calais seem to be just there for economic reasons and are mainly from Africa. Hence Cameron ignoring them.

    Migrants or Refugees from Syria ? Mmmm….big question. If you are fleeing and get to a safe country eg. Turkey should you not claim asylum there? That’s my understanding of UN rules. So does continuing the journey to Greece and other EU countries then constitute economic migration ? I think probably yes… but with caveats.

    As for EU policy its the usual mess. German public already preparing a backlash and Merkel feeling the heat according to the news. On balance I think Cameron has a good approach. A major influx into the UK would send the polls spiralling in favour of UKIP and a Brexit for sure.

    Serious question: If Germany grants all these people citizenship would they then be allowed free passage into the UK under EU rules of free movement ?

  45. THE MONK

    I don’t see how we can “go along” with supporting Assad.


    @”There are many dilemmas in Syria ”

    Yep-and its not even “Syria ” anymore. We seem to be applying rules which apply to something which doesn’t exist.

    If you go the ” best dictator we can find” route-then be prepared to support him when he starts wiping out this group , or that sect , which is some sort of threat to him.

  46. @Colin

    Both sides in the Syrian conflict are being funded by oil. So if the price stays low for a few years, both should collapse due to lack of funds.

    In the 80’s the oil price started to collapse in 1986, and by 1989 the Soviet Union was toast – so three years.

    Saudi isn’t the low-expenditure state it was in the 80’s. Back then the Bedouin tribes did their own thing and left the ruling family to enjoy the spoils of oil. Since 2008 however, Saudi has increased domestic spending to head off an uprising and is also spending 8% of GDP on fights in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere, plus on indoctrination elsewhere. They now have a deficit of 20% of GDP and are burning through their reserves. Something has to be cut, and my guess is that it’s overseas spending that will be chopped.

    All armies march on their stomachs and ISIS isn’t an exception.

  47. Allan Christie

    “David Cameron has the right approach (IMO) and that is to take in genuine asylum seekers from the camps in and around the conflict zone”

    Nice to be able to agree with you Allan. I think Merkels approach, in contrast is a disaster.

  48. Syria will either end up being run by Assad or by ISIS. The Government need to make up its mind which it would prefer.

    Since this is Hammond we talking about, he might make an actual decision sometime before the next election.


    “we will see millions fleeing from poorer but stable counties under the banner of asylum seekers who in reality are driven by economics, social security and free housing”

    A couple of small amendments to your prediction, if I may: they may in the future not be fleeing, so much as migrating in an orderly way and as legitimate migrants, since that is the way the global labour market, and specifically the EU single market at present and the Agenda programme are designed to operate; so,yes, they will be driven by economics and social security, contributing to the correction of the imbalances of human resources, security and access to social and economic infrastructure which uneven industrial development and demographics have brought about – but not to free housing, except within the social housing systems which our own economy and benefits systems provide for.
    The quota allocation of migrants to various countries is an interim process while the other dimensions of planned legitimate migration and support for economic development in countries of origin are put in place.
    I understand, if you are opposed to the EU undertaking a programme and policy which might embrace cooperation of the UK, but that is what the EU Agenda programme envisages.

  50. Assad or ISIS – it’s a real dilemma alright. Similar to the dilemmas we’ve had in Iraq and Libya. Remove the “strong man” and you get chaos with a much bigger threat to us in the West.

    It seems to me the only thing worse than a murderous secular dictator intent on slaughtering his own people is a fundamentalist Islamic group intent on slaughtering their own people and on spreading their terror around the world.

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