We celebrate our ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton, but we’ve forgotten what he stood for

The word 'foreigner' has become so toxic that Britain is now prepared to let refugees drown.

Nicholas Winton ncrj

The word ‘foreigner’ has become so toxic that Britain is now prepared to let refugees drown

Britain appears to be engaged in an immigration death spiral. For one politician’s ‘legitimate concerns’ another will raise you their ‘community tensions’. Britain is ‘swamped’ by immigrants and any sort of logic is the preserve of ‘liberal elites’ and can therefore go to the dogs.

So deep is the rot that even some on the left are now yearning for a politics steeped in populism and wild emotion, as was evident last week when Russell Brand was feted by people who should know better for saying that he “ain’t got no time for a bloody graph”.

Don’t like the gist of your opponent’s argument? Then dismiss them as part of the liberal elite/the establishment/the corporate lobby (delete as appropriate).

Nowhere is this form of anti-logic more aptly demonstrated than on immigration, where everyone from certain factions of the Labour Party to the loopiest fringe of UKIP are completely impervious to anything which fails to paint migrants as a bunch of good-for-nothing freeloaders.

Sticking to the facts would be just so ‘elitist’, after all.

And so this week we’ve reached the bottom. The word ‘foreigner’ has become so toxic that Britain, along with other European nations, is now prepared to let refugees drown.

According to a statement from Foreign Office minister Lady Anelay, the Government “do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean”. Their reasoning is as follows: it believes there is “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths”.

British policy toward asylum seekers is now set by the spluttering bore in the pub. Human catastrophes like the war in Syria and the Isis takeover of Iraq are just a sideshow; the real reason refugees want to come to Britain is the £50 a week they might claim in Jobseekers Allowance. Better that we don’t look like a ‘soft touch’ by saving them from drowning.

Outrage would likely have greeted this policy a few years ago. Yet because the drumbeat of anti-foreigner sentiment has been beaten for so long, all we can do is shrug. To do anything else would be to fail to understand the “genuine anger that’s out there about immigration”, or so the argument goes.

But British politicians (and the public that elects them) want to have it both ways. They wish to scapegoat immigrants and asylum seekers for electoral gain (and to distract from their own failures to regulate the banks), yet they also cling to the idea of Britain as a supposed ‘sanctuary’ for the needy and the dispossessed.

On Tuesday Czech authorities honoured Sir Nicholas Winton, sometimes endearingly known as the ‘British Schindler’. Sir Nicholas was 29 when he put his life in great danger to provide safe-passage to 669 children, most of them Jews, out of Nazi-controlled Czechoslovakia. Some of the people Sir Nicholas rescued looked on with tears in their eyes at this week’s ceremony. Hundreds of people owe their life to this man. Calling him a hero somehow doesn’t cut it.

Tuesday, then, should have been a great day to be British. Instead, on the same day the Czech authorities honoured our very own Schindler, the British Foreign Office decided that today’s victims of genocide were not worth a single search and rescue boat. From Tuesday, asylum seekers out at sea would, if it came to the pinch, be left to drown – lest they get the silly idea in their heads that Britain might be prepared to help them.

We may celebrate Sir Nicholas Winton, but it’s evident that we’ve completely forgotten what he stood for.

This is not to draw a false moral equivalence between Nazi Germany and the various conflicts currently burning parts of the globe. Rather it is to point out that principles must be more than abstractions if they are actually to mean something; they can’t simply be projected onto the past.

Sir Nicholas put his life on the line to rescue the asylum seekers of his generation. Today, while we puff ourselves up and pat ourselves on the back over our ‘British Schindler’, we’re not even willing to send a few boats out to sea to rescue them.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twittter

18 Responses to “We celebrate our ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton, but we’ve forgotten what he stood for”

  1. Mike B

    This was an article worth writing. People such as Nicholas Winton show how puny some of our current politicians are in comparison. In an Australian election Lynton Crosby was associated with the ‘babies overboard’ lie where refugees were falsely accused of drowning their children to improve their chances of getting into Australia. He now advises the Tories and the government adopts an inhumane policy in the Med. We can draw our own conclusions.

  2. JoeDM

    Hundreds of real refugees from another similar european culture does not bare comparison with 4 million economic migrants in just 10 years mostly bringing with them an alien culture !!!

  3. GhostofJimMorrison

    You know, James, I’d wager that Sir Nicholas is just as alarmed, if not more, as many people when they look at how this country and its communities have changed due to immigration. It’s not like you to spout such sentimental drivel.

  4. Sparky

    Hey Leon, what’s your favoured immigration policy? I’ve asked you several times but you always dodge the question.

  5. Sparky

    The last Labour government is responsible due to its deliberate policy of unprecedented mass immigration, at levels of 500% at any time since the 1950s.

    It poisoned the minds of ordinary people against immigration and this is the end result. The Left created current attitudes. It’s their fault.

  6. Peter Martin

    By all means let’s be fair, rational and logical about any discussion on immigration.

    But that has to apply to both sides too. Take a closer look at this sentence:

    “Nowhere is this form of anti-logic more aptly demonstrated than on immigration, where everyone from certain factions of the Labour Party to the loopiest fringe of UKIP are completely impervious to anything which fails to paint migrants as a bunch of good-for-nothing freeloaders.”

    Notice how quickly any sensible discussion on levels of immigration is quickly ruled out by accusation of loopiness and anti-migrant sentiments.

    Just on a point of information Mr Bloodworth: it is quite possible to like and respect migrants, even to the extent of being perfectly happy to see a family member marry one, but at the same time be of the opinion that 560,000 new arrivals, per annum, is too high a number for a small country like the UK to reasonably sustain.

  7. Joe Muggs

    “Some of my best friends”…

  8. Guest

    Yes yes, we can’t reasonably sustain trade or let the 99% cross borders. And that’s YOUR starting position for debate, right. That you endorse the line that all immigrants are good-for-nothing freeholders, which is ironically accurate about many of the richest…

  9. Guest

    Keep blaming everyone else for your hate, making frantic excuses for it.

    You would have seen the children die, of course. They were foreign.

  10. Guest

    Ah, so now you’re rambling off about paying more to your rich, as you claim you’re an immigrant, from an alien culture, here to smash the UK. Thanks for that, as you try and end trade and shut the borders on the 99%.

    No, not 4 million of your rich.

  11. Guest

    Hey Dave/LB;

    You’ve refused to read my answer repeatedly. There’s a distinct difference.

    You’ve dodged MY question, though;

    How many million British people will you put into poverty with your anti-trade policies?
    15 million?
    20 million?
    25 million?

  12. Guest

    So you’d “wager” that he shares your fear of a black face, and that he’d join you in your moral hysteria. Well, you lose.

    “Nicky’s Children”, the film, makes it plain he does not share your attitudes, as you call saving kids from people with your type of view as “sentimental drivel”.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    No surprise the right is here to heap hate onto him, for daring to think of people as people first.

    I would thoroughly recommend “Nicky’s Family”, the documentary film about his amazing actions. I was fortunate enough to go to a showing, where Esther Rantzen was present, and she talked about how she tracked him down and got him onto That’s Life!, to honour him.

  14. Peter Martin

    Joe Muggs , Leon/Guest,

    This is just nonsense. It has been accepted by the Labour Party for at least half a century that the UK needs to have a controlled immigration policy. The overwhelming opinion, both inside and outside the party, is that it is simply not possible for everyone who wishes to come to the UK be allowed to come.

    There are those on the left such as those from Socialist Workers’ Party who argue against any immigration controls into the UK. If they wish to argue their case on that then fair enough, but they are unlikely, at least IMO, to find much support for their position.

    So I would like to just ask why those who have been quite happy to go along with the Labour Party’s policy on controlled immigration previously, now find themselves more aligned to a SWP position on the question?

    Why is it not racist to argue for controlled immigration from the Indian subcontinent but it is racist to argue against uncontrolled immigration from the economic basket case known as the European Union?

  15. Sparky

    This is my immigration policy. Healthy people with skills that the country needs can come and live here from anywhere in the world. A points based system, like Australia.

    There. I’ve told you what I favour. Describe the policy you favour. Do not answer with any more of side-stepping bullshit. I dont want a critique of my policy, i want to hear yours. I’ll say that once more: Do not answe with a critique of my policy or another question, but tell us your favoured immigration policy.

  16. Guest

    You’re Joe Mugs? 36 usernames, Dave/LB.

    “This is just hypocritical nonsense”. Yes, your post is, and. Your excuses for racist views don’t cut any ice with me.

    And ah yes, the EU doing better than we are. How terrible, must sever links so we fall away sharply.

  17. Guest

    Right, you’re for only allowing the 1% to cross borders.

    I have outlined a policy, you’ve rejected it, you won’t take any form of criticism, you scream this over and over and over since your policy of Bankers-first is the only one you have,

    How many million British people will you put into poverty with your anti-trade policies?
    15 million?
    20 million?
    25 million?

    More?

    Work camps? Pogroms?

    I can keep asking questions if I’m being too nice.

  18. Guest

    Sorry, “Nicky’s Family”.

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