There are times when you see a noticeable shift in public opinion, and sometimes a simple image can be all that is needed to trigger it. When you see the picture of the corpse of 3 year old toddler, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the beach of Akyarlar in Turkey, your heart breaks.
When watching the news it is easy to let events wash over you. Even on good days, it is such a torrent of horror that you daren't allow yourself to truly take in what is happening. When you are told of thousands being killed in a war zone, you note it as any other statistic - without emotion, merely a fact.
But there is something different within you when a young child is killed. Adults make choices, make decisions, have personal responsibility. A child does not. Can not. The sad news cannot be framed with questions about it's legitimacy, the emotional punch is immediate and without doubt.
Of course it doesn't take much for your brain to kick in and realise that if you feel that sad about a child dying, what about all the other people fleeing war zones? Suddenly those empty statistics mean something.
There can be no doubt that public opinion has shifted significantly on the issue of this refugee crisis. I know from experience that immigration can be a major concern for the public. When campaigning on issues such as the Bedroom Tax I could be in Bolton town centre, for instance, doing a petition.
Getting support for petitions like that was not hard. People knew the Bedroom Tax was bad news. If it wasn't affecting them personally, they knew someone who it was. They would talk about the nasty Tory government, and agree with you about why they shouldn't be cutting funding for vital services. At which point they would usually chime in with why immigration was also a major part of the problem.
At this point you would politely disagree and make an argument why immigration was not the problem. Most of the time they would agree that you had a point, but you knew they were not convinced. After all, when all the newspapers and all of their friends thought differently, why were they going to listen to you?
But what has been really noticeable is the shift for those even on the right wing of politics. From those quarters that are always vehementally anti-immigration, in any form. Even they are shifting in their position.
I was reading The Sun yesterday (as always, I feel I have to stress it was someone elses copy, I didn't buy it myself!). They called on David Cameron to respond to this crisis and actually help the refugees.
Quite a change of position, and a welcome one. The piece did, however, go on to explain that a major way he should help the refugees was by taking money from foreign aid budgets and spending it more on bombing ISIS positions in Syria. Yes, that's right, they think the best thing we can do to help refugees is to bomb their country more!
It's... novel, I'll give them that. In fairness, The Sun isn't used to trying to care for people, so maybe we should just give them a pat on the back for giving it a go. Bless.
In Manchester at the moment there are currently two homeless camps. They were both set up by homeless people who have nowhere to go and have protested to the council that all they want is somewhere to live. Amongst them will be people suffering from mental illness as well as drug and alcohol dependency. In short, these are people most in need of help.
But there is nowhere for them. The councils approach is to try to evict them from the areas they have set up their camps. Again, a novel approach - evicting homeless people from sleeping on the street. Have they been getting tips from The Sun?
But when you see this it does raise the question - If we don't have the resources to help people already living here, can we really provide help for large numbers of people coming here from abroad?
Sadly, the answer is probably not.
But I would suggest that the problem here is the question. If you ask "do we have the resources that if we did things differently, we could actually help homeless people?" The answer is yes. If the answer to that question is yes, then you can also help refugees.
We don't have enough housing full stop, but we really don't have enough council housing. This has been because of deliberate policies by previous Labour and Tory administrations. This is why we need to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as leader of the Labour Party, to provide real opposition to the murderous doctrine of 'austerity'. Then we can smash the Tory government.
Not that you rely on the Labour Party for that, but Corbyn's election will be inspiring for 1000s of activists around the country that need to organise the fight back, inside and outside of the Labour Party.
Refugees are welcome here, the Tories and 'austerity' are not!
Read the original post at - http://christavner.blogspot.co.uk