Liverpool is not cowering under the bed clothes!!

Lets stop the gossip and speculation and use the sad events in Liverpool to start a rational debate about migration and immigration

I have been in a hotel in London for the past two nights and it has given me a rare opportunity to watch the telly. As you might guess I have been paying special attention to the what the media has been saying about the events on Sunday and subsequently.

In my view much of the national coverage of the events has been a heady of sensationalist nonsense and gossip. Why are they making such extensive coverage? Because sensation leads to purchase of papers and clicks on social media. The image that parts of the media portray is of a city that has been traumatised by the event and which is hunkering down against fear of further attacks. That just is not the case.

Of course, all of us in Liverpool were shocked by what had happened and even more so what might have happened. The death toll could have been huge if the bomb had actually entered the hospital or been taken to the Remembrance Sunday event at the Anglican Cathedral.

That shock has passed off. People are going about their business in the normal way. Liverpool is a great city that always takes things in its stride. It will shake itself down and get on with life after making known real concerns about what happened and a desire to ensure that the powers that be learn lessons from what occurred to try and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The coverage has not in any way led to rational coverage about why this has happened and what we should do about it. In a way that does not disappoint. I am, however, disappointed in that it is leading to irrational debate which may well prejudice rational debate.

I have seen ill-informed speculation about the way that the Anglican Church has been recklessly baptising people of other faiths who merely wished to guarantee that they could stay here.

I have seen extremist comment about the nature of the refuges who come to Liverpool and what their motivations for fleeing their Country.

I have seen angry comments about the way that the Council and other authorities not controlling or supporting asylum seekers and refugees properly

The NHS is apparently largely to blame in some people’s eyes because they didn’t properly aid or control someone who had been sectioned under mental health legislation.

All of these areas and organisations should be looked at but that proper review can only be undertaken when the Police have done their work and are able to provide all of us with a coherent report on what happened and the timeline against which it happened. I will wait to deal with the detail of what happened until that time.

However, on a wider level there are perhaps some questions that we can begin to ask which could also be considered in that wider discussion. Questions I want to ask are:

Is Liverpool taking too great a share of refugees and asylum seekers for us to be able to deal with properly? Please bear in mind here that I think that the Country should take asylum seekers and refugees into our Country because the vast, vast majority of them are good citizens who will do well for our Country.

I know how generous the people of Liverpool are to those less fortunate than themselves. When I offered to take clothes, toys and other necessaries to the asylum seekers being brought in from Afghanistan more than 250 bags and boxes ended up in my house in 4 days and I had to turn more away.

What is the role of the housing strategy of the council? We have vast numbers of very cheap small terraces that unscrupulous private landlords can make a fortune from by packing people into with few concerns about the effects on the neighbours and entire communities.

Should asylum seekers be allowed to work? We have scientist and doctors, lawyers and scholars in the Country unable to work. Many of them speak excellent English and with small amounts of efforts could come in and help our hard-pressed NHS and other institutions. At the other end of the work scale, we have lots of people who come from agricultural areas, but we cannot find people to harvest the crops of spuds and strawberries.

What support needs to be given to incomers to the Country to assimilate them into the ways, customs and cultures of our Country?

What can we do to make them job ready when they are successfully given leave to remain, as so many of them are, so that they can begin to fill the job vacancies which are evident throughout the economy?

These are questions which have been valid for years now but Governments both local and national and a host of other public and third sector agencies have shied away from asking them and placed them instead in the ‘too difficult to answer’ box!

Let some good come out of the events in Liverpool last Sunday. Let’s deal with the details of the event when we can but let’s start the national debate on the way we handle immigration and migration in a way that improves our systems; improves the way in we help immigrants; and improves the way in which we help the communities in which they are placed.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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