If there’s one thing that grinds Priti Patel’s gears more than the exploitation of innocent refugees by trafficking gangs, it’s people who disrespect the vibrant, democratic values of Rwanda.
Ms. Patel, who holidays in the Golan Heights, simply cannot abide the sort of small-minded bigot who allows the genocidal slaughter of 800 000 people 28 years ago to colour their opinion of a country that, nowadays, plays host to a thriving farm-to-fork culinary scene.
At the despatch box on Wednesday, the Home Secretary looked stricken and bewildered at the attitude towards Rwanda’s generous offer to accept a planeful of asylum seekers in return for an initial payment of just £120 million and rights to send the plane back full of its own refugees.
Rwanda has an ‘outstanding record’ in stepping up to its international obligations, so the ECHR, the Church of England, Prince Charles, and the asylum seekers themselves would do well to examine their prejudices as they look this gift horse in the mouth.
Ms. Patel wasn’t calling them racists, she was leaving that for others to decide, perhaps in the reader comments below a Daily Mail article.
Bloody good laugh
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer seized the opportunity at PMQs to launch his career in stand up. Not only is the Leader of the Opposition a patriot, a royalist, a son-of-a-toolmaker, and a safe pair of hands, he is also, did you know, a bloody good laugh!
All the great comics start out the same way‒ after excelling in academia and rising to the top of the legal profession, picking up a knighthood and establishing a happy family life, they learn from a focus group that the public finds them as engaging as an enforced fortnight at Center Parcs.
Only from such personal turmoil can an artist work up material like: ‘He thinks he’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, the truth is, he’s Jabba the Hutt!’
It takes something special to provoke a look of genuine pity in the prime minister’s eyes, but Starmer’s efforts succeeded where the relatives of 170 000 Covid victims fell short.
Starmer chose not to mention the previous day’s aborted flight to Rwanda and went instead on the cost-of-living crisis.
Fair enough, you might think, that’s a real bread and butter issue and he’s done well to keep his eye on the ball when the media is jumping up and down about a confected immigration row.
Well, kinda, but when his spokesman was asked if Labour would reverse the Rwanda policy, he declined to answer.
Did Starmer believe the policy to be morally wrong, then?
Again, there was no response.
This is all rather through the looking glass.
On one hand, we have Conservative ministers claiming to care above all else about the welfare of refugees and the public perception of developing nations, on the other we have a Labour leader wrapped in the Union flag, refusing to mention a deportation policy condemned by the church and royalty.
Meanwhile, we all know that, in reality:
- Priti Patel does not care at all what people think about Rwanda and would probably deport your cat if it looked at her wrong.
- Keir Starmer would reverse the policy in a heartbeat and cannot locate his Charles & Di commemorative tea set.
A little bit racist
If this seems confusing and irrelevant to affairs here in Wales, be assured that it very much is.
All the participants in this charade have one goal, which is to win votes in the former Red Wall of Northern England, where it is assumed the next election will be won.
To this end, both sides are at pains not offend sensibilities they imagine existing in a region they know next to nothing about.
One thing they seem to agree on is that their target voters are a little bit racist. Not racist enough to identify as such, but gratified by being told that enjoying the spectacle of foreigners being deported is perfectly acceptable and that, in fact, it’s racist not to support it.
The imaginary northern voter will become an omnipresent feature of politics as we approach the next election.
Two variants of the species will be created by political scientists, both synthesized from pure sources of London assumption and uncontaminated by lived experience.
You’ll see them on party election broadcasts nodding along to Michael Gove as he promises to light an inferno of innovation in Halifax, and clinking pints matily with Wes Streeting on the set of Emmerdale.
So, pity the actual, flesh and blood northerners upon whom the current crop of aspirant statesmen will be pressing their affections in the coming months.
If seduction doesn’t work, you can be sure that threats will be employed ‒ That’s a nice levelling-up project you’ve got there, be a pity if something were to happen to it…
If there ever comes a time when Welsh votes decide a general election, we will find out what grotesque fantasy the wider British political class has about our values and beliefs.
Until then, we can only watch as they perform their strange dance for others.
As far as they are concerned, we could be in Rwanda.
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