There is nothing new about those on the Left awarding themselves a monopoly on compassion. Yet in the past week they really have excelled themselves.
The stance the resurgent Corbynistas have been taking over the Calais refugees has been staggering in its effrontery.
Such posturing allows them to bask in a wonderful simplicity about the world’s challenges – ending war, alleviating poverty, providing sanctuary for refugees. The divide they portray is between those who care and those who don’t care. That distracts from the far less congenial matter of finding viable solutions.
The other convenient aspect of the Left’s approach is that it means never having to say sorry. If challenged on the facts their technique is to turn up the emotional volume. The message is that they should never be held to account. They stress – with ever greater indignation – how they are moral and caring while the Conservatives are not.
That enables them to proceed unencumbered by self-doubt. It may be that policies they advocated have proved disastrous. Or that all the revolutionary regimes they have commended with a frisson of excitement prove to be vile. Or that all too often predictions they offer in a tone of smug and emphatic certainty are proved utterly false. Through all this their sanctimony remains impossible to prick.
Thus we have Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, hawking her social conscience across the airwaves. Despite stiff competition on the British Left surely Abbott wins some sort of prize for mendacity and hypocrisy.
Regarding the idea of dental checks on migrants, she said this week: “I’m ashamed of being a British person” and condemns Britain’s “racist” government. Given that earlier she said that “white people love to play divide and rule”, if anyone is guilty of racism it’s her.
It should be obvious that the French are right to demolish the Calais Jungle – the only criticism is that they allowed it to emerge in the first place. Retaining it with all the squalor and chaos it embodied was scarcely in the interests of those stuck there. Yet Abbott advocated further delay, complaining that “thousands of men and women are being bussed out of Calais—one more leg in a desperate odyssey that has taken some of them half way around the world”. She added: “We should have made it clear to the French that the camp should not be demolished until we had processed all the children.” But that work can take place far more effectively now the children have been rescued from that crime-infested Hell.
We might also reflect that the current Syrian refugee crisis is surely much worse as a consequence of a fateful vote in the House of Commons in August 2013 when MPs ducked out of taking military action. It was overwhelmingly Labour MPs who were responsible for that disastrous decision. Few have apologised.
Then this morning we had some astonishing comments from Kate Osamor, Labour’s shadow development secretary.
Often British aid spent via multinational bodies such as the World Bank and the European Union is wasted. So – quite sensibly – the British Government is reviewing this to see if a greater proportion should be spent directly to secure better value for money. Osamor’s response is to complain that there is “no mandate or evidence to fundamentally change the way UK aid is distributed.” For her, the measure of being caring is simply the total spent. But when it comes to maximising how effective it is at tackling poverty, she seems to lose interest.
We should be proud, rather than ashamed, of being British, given our outward-looking and generous record of helping those on the planet that are less fortunate.
The practical reality will also be that help can never be unlimited. Yet Abbott fails to offer a figure for how many refugees she would take. According to the latest figures Abbott’s local Labour council of Hackney has yet to take any Syrian refugees – yet she has been oddly quiet on the matter.
All these hypocritical protests have gone unchallenged for too long. Those who really care about helping refugees are those more interested in the reality than the rhetoric.