Refugees: we used to do it differently - what's changed?

Written by Name withheld on .


Having read Dr Maurice's thoughtful piece on your website about current 'migration problems' and following the recent truly terrible news reports and photos, I wanted to share some of my thoughts - personal ones - on this unfolding international disaster.

One of the first international events that caught my attention was the Soviet Union's brutal intervention to put down the Hungarian uprising in 1956.  I was 14.

I eagerly read The Bridge at Andau describing - as I recall it - desperate escape stories of nationalists fleeing from the bullets of Soviet forces.  And then into a council house very near our home came a Hungarian 'refugee' or 'asylum seeker' - but not, please, a 'migrant'.  

This was a leafy, rural part of 'the Home Counties'.  I was pleased - probably a bit proud - to have him as a neighbour.  He brought up his family in the village and started a small painting and decorating business and was universally approved of as a successful member of the village.

I was pleased Anthony Eden's government had allowed him to settle with us.  Now we have a Prime Minister espousing a very different sort of Conservatism who seems intent on pulling up the draw-bridge - unless those front pages and television pictures persuade him to lower it a few small notches.

While Whitehall and Westminster haver and duck and weave before the cameras, would it not be good if Wiltshire Council announced that we should take in a hundred or so Syrians who have fled that country's war?  As a county so long connected to our country's army, Wiltshire knows a great deal about the awful results of war.

(Name and Marlborough area address withheld - but known to MNO editors)