What kills migrants on boats? Politicians' good intentions

16 June 2018 9:00 AM

Refugees at sea (image: Getty)

I have been scouring the internet trying to find a right-wing festival to take the family to this summer. I don’t necessarily mean a kind of Nuremberg affair; just some sort of gathering where we won’t be hectored about the refugees and the NHS by simpering millennials with falafel between their ears. A place where you can be sure that the next act on won’t be bloody Corbyn, backed by a mass of lobotomised sheep chanting his name to that dirge by the White Stripes.

Mind you, I wish I’d been at the Eden Sessions, a hugely right-on shindig held at the UK’s most stridently eco–friendly venue, the Eden Project in Cornwall. It’s all about sustainable living and not damaging the environment — if only someone had told the headline act, the dunderheaded Gary Barlow. The climax to his performance featured a cannon shooting hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of tiny pieces of non-biodegradable plastic confetti over the crowd. As an act of conspicuous eco-sabotage it would have been bettered only if he had dragged a live whale on stage and tried to see how many Sainsbury’s carrier bags he could ram down its throat.

Festivals are about as environmentally hostile as it is possible to get — just look at Glastonbury once the middle-aged revellers have departed. A million gypsies, celebrating the annual advent of their income tax returns with bare-knuckle fist fights, inter-familial sexual intercourse and copious quantities of cheap alcohol, would keep the place sprucer. Festivals tend to be leftist because, one supposes, they are a kind of expression of mindless communitarianism, from Woodstock ever onwards (but conveniently forgetting Altamont, which seemed to me a truer expression of the human disposition). Festivals mean well, but the front driveway to Hell is tarmacadamed, probably by gypsies, with good intentions.

The chimera of good intentions infects much of the liberal left. Or at least it is partly good intentions, allied to an insuperable desire to show oneself as being morally- superior to scumbags like me. But also a certain rank stupidity, a failure to appreciate what the outcomes are likely to be for each course of action they urge us to take. The most obvious example comes with those African refugees bobbing about somewhere in the Mediterranean, en route to Spain, having been denied entry to Italy by its new populist government and also to one of Europe’s most densely populated countries, Malta.


You will remember the shrieking from the left a few years back when the first wave of migrants set sail from the North African coast. ‘These are people, we must do something,’ the liberals demanded, insisting that the rest of us were callous bastards. The thing they wanted was more patrols in the Med, to scoop the refugees out of the water once their boats had, inevitably, capsized.

It seemed plain to me and to many others that if we did this, many more people would be encouraged to come, and many, many more would die attempting to achieve landfall. And that is exactly what happened: the death rate increased almost exponentially— in the first six months of 2017 some 2,000 migrants died. But those of us who predicted this were castigated by the ‘But these are people’ brigade — in fact this was their only response to suggestions that stepping up the patrols would cost more lives. I remember the columnist David Aaronovitch saying that if we did not ‘do something’ to help these people then the government would be directly accountable for the deaths which occurred.

Given that many more people have died because we did indeed do something, are those subsequent deaths not on Mr Aaronovitch’s hands? And on the hands of the rest of the dense, squawking liberals? Even more so, are they not the responsibility of the various NGOs and charities which now openly connive in the trafficking of these people, thus encouraging still more to come? If the NGOs really wished to do something useful, they would fish the survivors out of the sea and take them straight back to where they came from.

Another outcome the lefties did not see was the effect these mass migrations would have on the nations of Europe. One by one, populist governments deeply opposed to immigration have been elected and the European Union is now a much more fissiparous and fragile entity. They have been elected because another of the outcomes was that large numbers of these migrants have not necessarily enhanced the societies in which they have settled. There is increased crime, particularly crime of a sexual nature, numerous jihadis running around stabbing people or blowing stuff up, a rise in anti-Semitism — as well as the wholly predictable pressure on infrastructure, jobs and so on.

These are just some of the reasons why Italy’s new populist government — which I think is going to provide us all with a lot of entertainment over the next few years — refused to let in the latest batch. In a fit of grandstanding masquerading as compassion, Spain, with its 16 per cent unemployment and vast debt, has agreed to take them. So, you migrants: head for Spain, en masse, and see how long that magnanimity lasts.

The migrant policy has now been disowned even by the people who first propounded it — the Germans, and in particular Frau Merkel. There is a good case for saying that the correct destination for those supposed refugees was across the Black Sea and up the Danube, where they could be deposited in Regensburg or maybe Ulm: you wanted them, you have them. Except that resistance to inward migration is every bit as furious in Bavaria as it is in Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. You can’t beat good intentions for causing misery, deaths and political upheaval.