On Monday in the House of Commons David Cameron announced he was committing the British Nation to provide sanctuary for 20,000 refugees over the next five years and also that a few weeks ago he had authorised a drone strike in Syria to assassinate two British men who he believed were Jihadists. Following these announcements, there was a two hour debate which Michael Fallon later described as the PM making himself accountable to Parliament over these decisions. Sadly this was not an ironic comment, showing how little either man understands about accountability. However one of the short interactions during that debate came from a local MP:
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): The offer of 20,000 refugees over five years amounts to just 12 refugees a day, which falls pitifully short of what is needed and of what people in this country deserve and expect. Local authorities such as Brighton and Hove’s would be very willing to accept more, provided the Government fully resource this. Will the Prime Minister therefore guarantee the funds—not from the aid budget—and, crucially, that they will last for more than one year, so that people who want to act to help this crisis can be enabled to do so?
The Prime Minister: I notice that Brighton is very keen to be generous with other people’s money. The point is that, yes, we will fund this in the first year through the Department for International Development budget and then we will need to look at how we provide the resources that local authorities need. That process will be led by the Home Secretary and the Communities Secretary over the coming weeks.
Yesterday I was privileged to attend a meeting where the acting CEO of Brighton & Hove City Council and one of his officers spoke about plans that have been made to accommodate Syrian refugees. It transpires that a great deal of preparation has been made for this eventuality, long before Mondays statement was made. In addition there has been a groundswell of offers made to the Council from ordinary people and charities offering spare rooms to refugees should they arrive. Some of these are incredibly touching and they involve people offering to make real sacrifice in terms of their comfort. It is tragic that David Cameron, the man who claims he believes in the big society and small Government should focus on what he disparagingly claims is the willingness of our city to spend public money, rather than our generous spirit and selflessness. In any event he appears to have overlooked where public money actually comes from, it comes from ordinary people, like those offering their spare bedrooms. Indeed it is himself, as Prime Minister and his coterie who have spent our money on his pet ideas. Ideas such as investing in 45 additional Peers in the House of Lords, the construction of HS2, the cutting of public spending in areas which later become reversed such as making staff in the NHS redundant before re-recruiting the same people to work for the NHS. There is a long list of failed policies that this Prime Minister has used our money to fund, being generous to his ideas with our money. We need a Prime Minister and Government willing to be accountable and to listen, not to treat our representatives as though they are small children to be patronised in the way that David Cameron spoke to my Member of Parliament, an MP who I along with many others voted for, who deserves respect, not for who she is personally, although of course she does deserve that, but because she is our democratically elected representative!