“Refugee crisis? What crisis?” A numerical perspective
A badly needed numerical perspective:
The author, Gwynne Dyer, is a distinguished Canada-born historian, PhD Kings College London in military and Middle Eastern history, Senior Lecturer in military history at Sandhurst before becoming full time journalist. Some extracts:
“They are coming at the rate of about 3,000 a day, mostly through Turkey into Greece or across the Mediterranean to Italy, and the EU doesn’t know what to do about it.
It’s not really that big a refugee crisis: one million people at most this year, or one-fifth of one percent of the European Union’s 500 million people. Lebanon (population 4.5 million) has already taken in a million refugees, as has Jordan (pop. 6.5 million). But while a few of the EU’s 28 countries are behaving well, many more have descended into a gibbering panic about being ‘overrun’.”
“Chancellor Angela Merkel put it bluntly: ‘If Europe fails on the question of refugees…it will not be the Europe we imagined.’ She has put her money where her mouth is: two weeks ago she predicted that Germany would accept asylum claims from 800,000 refugees this year.”
” The most prominent [of those shirking what Gwynne Dwyer calls ‘their responsibility’] are the United Kingdom and Spain, which played a key role in sabotaging an EU meeting last June that was trying to agree on a formula for sharing the refugee burden fairly among EU members.
David Cameron’s problem is that overall immigration into Britain is high (330,000 last year) … only 25,000 were refugees – but such fine distinctions have little place in the public debate.”
A personal comment: But for accidents of time and place, every one of us is a potential refugee. I am the grandchild of refugees, and am old enough to have had friends within my tribe who were themselves refugees, and who owed their lives to having been among the few who found refuge.
Image from UNHCR
I’m breaking the law by showing you this picture
Yes, that’s Dave, Boris, and the rest of their Old Etonian pals, in purpose-tailored  getups, before the notorious Bullingdon Club dinner, which year after year ended in drunken rioting, invading and smashing up the rooms of ordinary students (who were referred to as “trogs” i.e. troglodytes), the occasional debagging (an old tradition; see Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall), and then moving on to more serious stuff like smashing up shops.
And while we’re at it, a few years later here‘s George Osborne, Number 16. Jo Johnson, Boris’s younger brother,is at Number 8.
We saw this happening, when I was a student, year after year, and groaned. It would be interesting to see the police records of Dave and Boris’s Bullingdon nights, if they still exist.
But no need to worry. Not only was the State paying their student fees, plus a token minimum grant (not loan), but they knew that daddy would show up with cheque-book and persuade the shop owner not to press charges. In David Cameron’s case, daddy was a hard-working stockbroker, and rose to be senior partner of the stockbrokers Panmure Gordon & Co., now with offices in Switzerland and Singapore, despite the handicap of having had a father and grandfather who were also partners in the firm, and Cameron has pointed him out to us as an example of what can be accomplished by hard work and diligence.
I was hoping you would see a lot more of Dave and Boris enjoying themselves in the run-up to the Westminster election. As I had hoped before the last one. But this was not to be.
In 2007, the copyright owners of the picture suddenly and mysteriously decided to ban its further distribution. I wonder why.
I am glad that the story has now resurfaced. It was the BBC who carried it in 2007; I am not hopeful that they would do the same today.
Just remember, we’re all in this together; Dave said so. And have a thought for what else the people in these photographs have smashed.
h/t Geoffrey Braterman, RealPaulLewis
1] Cost, £1,000, or 200 hours minimum wage earnings, when the story was written. I’m told (see comments) that this was uninflated and should in present day money be £3,500, or pushing 600 hours minimum wages, or 49 weeks benefits living allowance in Glasgow. But remember, that includes the special biscuit-coloured waistcoat. And you do get two more chances to wear it, if you make it into the Club in your first year.