Listen to the people on Syria issue

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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It’s often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and those images of little Alan Kurdi’s small, lifeless body, being carried away from a Turkish beach, required no clever prose or erudite commentary.

His death, like many of those that have gone before, was born out of desperation, caused by war and the abject failure of the international community to deal with tyranny.

Whatever your view on the matter of immigration, you, like me cannot fail to have been moved by those images of humanity at its lowest ebb - there but for the grace of God go I.

Had we not had the misguided invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the so called Islamic State may have been dealt with by now, but as it is, their grip on large swathes of the Middle East grows ever tighter and is forcing thousands upon thousands to make the ever more perilous and desperate journey to safety of the West, on a daily basis.

However, despite the suffering and hardship that they endure, it appears that many people in Peterborough find themselves torn between their first instinct, which is to help those in need, and the worry of adding yet more pressure on to our already creaking welfare systems.

Yvette Cooper, one of Labour leadership contenders, called for every local authority to take 10 families and to do their bit and I am sure there would have been a far more positive response from the people of Peterborough, had her party’s “open door” immigration policy not resulted in a city bulging at the seams and struggling to cope financially.

People have not become cold and uncaring overnight, but many do feel that they have already done their bit when it comes to immigration.

Bob Geldof called the refugee situation “shameful” and has offered to take four families into his various houses straight away. But he, Yvette Copper and many others miss the point. They can afford their liberal views because they don’t have to wait a week for an appointment at the doctor’s surgery in Stanground and Bob isn’t living in the spare bedroom at his Mum’s house in Werrington, due to the length of the housing waiting list.

No, in their world everything is rosy, in their world it’s all going splendidly and they cannot understand the public’s frustration with the way things have turned out for them over the last 10 years.

It’s not that folks don’t care about the plight of the Syrian migrants, or that they have suddenly all become racist bigots, those that I have spoken to on the “Big Conversation” have just 
had enough of their lives being changed without any sign of consultation or discussion.

These are people who have paid their taxes and done their bit for this country over many years and their voice deserves to be heard.

David Cameron says we can take in 20,000 refugees from Syria over the lifetime of this parliament and has promised that money will be made available to councils to cover the cost.

Quite rightly, he says we have a moral responsibility to help, but he also needs to remember he has a responsibility to ensure that promises are kept and that the whole thing is carefully planned.

Promises have been broken before and plans have been conspicuous by their absence - trust will breed compassion.

Read what Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson had to say on the Syrian crisis.