Opinion: What about taking responsibility?

One of the values I try to instil in my children is that they should take responsibility for their actions. If they accidentally knock something over, then they should own up to it, not try to deflect the blame, writes Labour group leader Shaz Nawaz.
Home Secretary  Suella Braverman
 (Getty Images)Home Secretary  Suella Braverman
 (Getty Images)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Getty Images)

I believe that this is how we create responsible adults and functioning citizens: most parents do the same.

Thus, it was somewhat disheartening to hear the Tories try to blame Labour for issues associated with migration. The current Home Secretary referred to an “invasion” of our south coast. This is fear-based rhetoric: I hope most of us see through it by now.

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Usually blaming the foreigner, the other, is the tactic of a desperate government that is trying to cover up its failings. First, the blame was extended to the EU and Polish carpenters coming to work here. Now, it’s asylum seekers and migrants.

It is important to keep  Peterborough city centre attractive to visitors, says Wayne FitzgeraldIt is important to keep  Peterborough city centre attractive to visitors, says Wayne Fitzgerald
It is important to keep Peterborough city centre attractive to visitors, says Wayne Fitzgerald

The Tories have played a role in making matters worse. As part of the EU, we were a signatory of the Dublin Convention. This meant the asylum seeker application was to be processed by the first member state which they entered. As per the terms of this agreement, we could send asylum seekers back to France for processing. When we left the EU, this no longer applied.

Furthermore, we need to ask why migrants come. Some are genuine asylum seekers, such as people fleeing Afghanistan. Others are coming for economic opportunity: the fact that we slashed aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 0.3% didn’t help bolster prospects for the unemployed.

We also have not taken climate change seriously enough, which is going to continue to drive migration out of less and less hospitable regions. Are the Tories doing anything about this? No. They strike at the effect, not the cause. And why? It is to get people riled up and say “something must be done”, and what is done is perhaps the most crude deterrent imaginable. It diminishes us as a nation and damages our reputation.

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Blaming Labour for this, particularly since they have been in charge for over a decade is really rather rich. We look at our city and our country: are we more united than we were? More prosperous? Are we happier and healthier? Are our schools better? Do our children have a chance at a better life than we were able to obtain?

The answer has to be a resounding “No”. The tired old tactic of blaming asylum seekers should be seen for what it is, an unimaginative administration trying to stave off the inevitable. Unfortunately, the firebombing of a migrant processing centre shows that this rhetoric, as stale as it is, can rouse people to listen to their worst instincts.

As the year is approaching its end, we should take a good hard look at ourselves. We are on our third prime minister. The economy is sputtering. The government is constantly mired in chaos and scandal. The Tories should take responsibility and submit themselves to the judgement of the British people: they won’t of course, like Mr. Micawber from “David Copperfield” they cling to the hope that something will turn up. But what if it doesn’t? It hasn’t so far. Meanwhile, we cannot progress until they give way.