With the Labour conference over, the next point in the Political calendar is in Birmingham when the Conservative party will gather. On Monday evening, a group of political activists will be in attendance at the Malt House pub just around the corner from where the conference is taking place. Those who attend are invited to enjoy free drinks and to hear the MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke speak about matters dear to his heart. He will be speaking about “Brexit, the UK-France border and the Calais Jungle [refugee camp]”. Mr Elphicke is also going to speak about the impact of people traffickers but the language of the invitation appears to slip into what is hopefully just clumsy language. The text is “Just last weekend, three suspected migrants were arrested in Walmer in my constituency. More must be done to prevent these people traffickers from landing migrants on our shores. This is why I have been calling for a new Dover Patrol led by Royal Marines to protect our borders”
Unfortunately people trafficking is not a new activity, it has been something that was taking place when Joseph, the Biblical figure was transported to Egypt, against his will in the story which Andrew Lloyd Webber turned into a musical about a multi coloured coat. No doubt that was not the first time it had occurred and where Charlie Elphicke and I agree, is that we need to work tirelessly to prevent people trafficking and slavery from our shores and indeed from all parts of the world that we can hope to influence. My birth city of Liverpool was founded extensively on the activity of slavery and people trafficking, indeed many of the wealthiest politicians in an age gone but not forgotten, were dealers in slaves. The real challenge however in what Mr Elphicke has stated in his invitation to the free drinks event, is not his desire to end people traffickers, assuming he does wish to do so, but the fact that his focus is on preventing people traffickers from ‘landing migrants on our shores’. Indeed it is probable that some of the prostitutes in the brothels in his constituency contain men and women who have been trafficked, potentially from other parts of the UK, as much as from anywhere else. People trafficking is taking place in almost every community in our nation. It is vital that we work to prevent people trafficking wherever it is taking place. There are thousands of people being trafficked across Europe as I write. People trafficking is one of the most lucrative forms of criminal activity that occurs in the 21st Century. If the objective is simply to end the appearance of a few migrants, who may be refugees in any case, from appearing on the streets of Dover or Deal, we are focusing on the wrong target. Let us hope that Mr Elphicke has inadvertently misspoken or has failed to understand the way in which his words could be interpreted. If not he needs to be challenged robustly regarding this matter so that we focus on the real cause, not an inconvenient symptom!