Dear Catherine Smith,
I have just moved to Lancaster, and am now one of your constituents, as well as lecturer at Lancaster University. This is an email to implore you to pressure the government into concrete action in accepting more refugees. Now, I am sure you are about to say that of course you will do this. But as someone who worked with asylum seekers for a number of years in Manchester, I know what the asylum process in this country entails, and how this dehumanising and brutal legal process positions an asylum claimant as a liar till she proves herself as truthful, and often locks her and her children up like criminals. This process has worsened under the Conservative government with huge cuts to legal aid, but prior to this the Labour government also treated asylum seekers terribly. Cameron’s current position is legitimised by this legacy. The recent increase in refugees has highlighted that the UK’s approach to those fleeing war, conflict and persecution needs to urgently be reassessed.
In any case, I hope that you will do your best to pressure Cameron into concrete action, and remind him that the electorate is not only the Daily Mail. Every utterance seems directed at placating the tabloids. He explained that any aid to refugees in this country would be taken from the foreign aid budget, but when Osborne spoke about bombing Syria, he didn’t mention where money for military action would come from.
I am sure you are gladdened at how the news is full of stories of everyday people helping refugees, whether it is in Germany or people here sending aid to Calais. But you have political power, and I hope you use it well,