Turkey: You couldn’t make it up


Merkel with Turkish PM Erdogan

The evolution of the immigration crisis, and Europe’s response to it, becomes increasingly bizarre.  If it weren’t so tragic and serious, you could call it farcical.  Yet in a way it’s a metaphor and an example for the sort of knee-jerk compassion that we saw from Simon Schama on BBC Question Time in Dover last Thursday.

Or in that letter from 84 Church of England Bishops insisting the UK admit an extra 30,000 Syrians beyond the 20,000 to which Cameron has already committed.

As I Tweeted when I read the story, I wonder if those 84 Bishops are prepared to house and finance 30,000 more migrants?  Or do they expect the rest of us to pay for their compassion and generosity?

By the way, why does the Church of England need as many as 84 bishops?  I thought they were strapped for cash?  But if we could billet say 100 migrants per Episcopal Palace, there’s 8400 housed straight away.

There’s a tendency for the soft left (which now clearly includes the Church of England, as well as Simon Schama) to respond to any human crisis with a flourish of knee-jerk compassion.  The trouble is that they never pause to think of the practical, economic or democratic consequences.  The housing lists.  The NHS over-crowding.  The schools where few pupils speak English as a first language.  The low-wage economy and the Treasury’s deficit.  And the fact that recent polls show immigration to be the biggest current worry for voters.  Throw open the flood-gates first, they say (and I make no apology for the entirely appropriate metaphor “flood-gates”), and pretend we know how to deal with the consequences later on.

I don’t normally regard Angela Merkel as “soft-left”, but she certainly let the desire for political posturing stand in the way of her judgement on this issue.  First, it was “Let ‘em all come”.  Anyone from Syria was entitled to asylum (and that’s around 23 million). Note how the definition of “Asylum seeker” has been broadened out to include millions – not just those with “a well-founded fear of persecution”.

Now it’s anyone from Syria.  But how do you know that the asylum seeker is indeed from Syria?  Especially if on the sea crossing they’ve thrown away any papers they had.  Simon Schama had a quick answer “You know they’re Syrian because they speak Arabic”.  His sally was greeted with appreciative mirth by the QT audience, as though he’d scored a point.  I had to remind him that Arabic is spoken widely across the Middle East and North Africa.  You might as well say that speaking English proves a person comes from London.  I know of at least one case of a migrant claiming in impeccable Arabic to come from Syria.  The only problem was that he pronounced his Arabic in a clear North African accent.

But within weeks the crisis had grown out of control, there was chaos across Eastern Europe, and Merkel’s ratings were dropping like a stone.  She started to come under pressure not just from the German public and from political opponents, but from her own party.  So the high-flown rhetoric of compassion was replaced in short order with barriers and barbed wire, and proposals for concentration camps (sorry, “holding centres”) on Germany’s southern borders.

Now we have the proposed EU/Turkey deal (which Prime Minister Erdogan reportedly – but rightly – calls “bribery”.

In simple terms, the EU has offered Turkey’s 75 million citizens a much more generous visa régime (How generous?  No doubt time will tell), and accelerated accession negotiations, in exchange for cooperation in stemming the tide of refugees.  There are many problems with this scheme.  First, Austria and France have both promised referendums prior to Turkish accession, so Turkish membership is not in Angela Merkel’s gift.  Secondly, opinion in Turkey is hardening against the two million migrants there already, so Erdogan will not win many votes by stopping them from leaving.  Thirdly, to judge by newspaper reports, there’s a flourishing cottage industry on the west coast of Turkey selling inflatables and other impedimenta of the sea voyage to would-be migrants.  So if there is an EU/Turkey deal, it won’t stick.

But where is the logic in offering free access to the EU (either with “relaxed visas”, or with EU membership) to 75 million Turks, in the vague hope that they might obstruct access to a couple of million other migrants?

As people get older, I’m told they are increasingly amazed by the follies they see around them.  I’m a year older than I was when last elected, and I notice myself using the phrase “You couldn’t make it up” more often than I should.  But in this case, you really couldn’t make it up.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Turkey: You couldn’t make it up

  1. Mike says:

    Like Rom/Bulg, Turkey will shunt its problem classes to the rest of the EU. Or more accurately the UK

  2. Anne says:

    Perhaps it has been noted, that the many that are coming from these war torn Countries are so very many young men? You ask, “But how do you know that the asylum seeker is indeed from Syria?” In truth, neither you nor I know. All I know is that perhaps Assad is trying to protect his own Country? Wouldn’t any other leader? We certainly did in 1939 here in the UK, yet present UK Leaders PAY foreigners to Govern us-as long as we-the people- keep electing them and paying them. More fools us I guess. I used to vote for the Cons, because of that truly GREAT Prime Minister-one Winston Churchill, but never again and I am just sorry that the people did not vote for those that want FREEDOM FROM FOREIGN RULE instead of one of those three Political Parties that want to remain in the EU.

    • We had some young men here in our town in Cambridgeshire.
      One – Mohammed – was a Syrian. He was called Mohammed Syree. He brought in a couple of light skinned friends who also claimed to be Syrian.
      We had one Eritrean, one Kurd, one Ethiopian and all said they were 14. When I asked a 14 year old girl how old she though they were, she said they were all al lot older than she was.

  3. Alan Wheatley says:

    Is anyone else getting the feeling, as I have, that as members of the EU we are seamlessly morphing towards something akin to the Fourth Reich?

    • ian wragg says:

      I have been saying this on John Redwoods blog for some time but he edits it out.
      Merkel is behaving in very Teutonic fashion by speaking for the rest of Europe and expecting us to follow behind.
      I see on the pro EU BBC there is no reporting of the German politician being stabbed for being pro immigration.
      Things are getting very nasty over there if you read the German press.
      We are heading for a re-run of the 1930’s with all that entails. Just as Dave destroys our armed forces and w2e are unable to defend ourselves.

      • absolutelypassionate says:

        Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

      • Andy says:

        I think you are mistaken and if you look at the BBC World News on the internet you will see that the candidate, although stıll in hospıtal and serıously ill has actually now been elected..

    • vera says:

      Indeed yes, for some time now.

    • Ian Terry says:



      Its already happening

    • The EU has three possibilities:
      1. Changing back to where it came from with individual nations going their own way. There seems to be some support for this from the defences put up against the immigrants, the German decision to go against the climate change thinggy with coal fired power stations and the French, well, being French.
      2. The EU will turn into a Eurozone growing tighter and tighter together. At the moment Mrs Merkel is making the running. What we have to watch is the emergence of the normal dictator (Europeans often do this in times of emergency) probably from somewhere “safe” like Albania, Romania or perhaps even Portugal or Benelux. In which case are in 1984.
      3. Bumbling on like the old Holy Roman Empire, or, worse, Poland and slowly being eaten up by Russia in the East and perhaps America or China in the West.

    • Anne says:

      Shush! Nobody is supposed to notice. absolutelypassionate below has got the matter EXACTLY RIGHT.

  4. c777 says:

    “Thus developed the PKM, which includes 188 of the 310 CDU / CSU parliamentary deputies, a request for a border closure. Here also the “test of a border fortification be no taboo” could, said the PKM-chairman and CDU-Bundestagsabgeordnete of Stetten against “image”. The CDU politicians stressed while he was “firmly convinced” that the federal government had an effective plan that will stop the uncontrolled flow of refugees on the federal territory. But “it turns out in the next week that this assumption was wrong, our group must respond.” The application should be discussed in two weeks at the group meeting”.
    A potential “coup” against Merkel is developing by the sound of it.
    To be honest its needed she’s completely lost the plot.


  5. Andrew says:

    How come Angela Merkel is doing all this “negotiating” on behalf of the EU? I would have thought that Federica Mogherini as High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy should be doing this.

  6. Ali Toker says:

    Regarding your third point. Do you seriously suggest that just because there is a cottage industry of inflatable dinghy trade on the west coast of Turkey, there will not be an agreement? By the way, were you one of the jolly fellows who were having fun at hotel Bloom lobby at Brussels two years ago? You seemed to be enjoying EU cash immensely.

  7. John Poynton says:

    Thanks for the reference, Roger, as I was away at the the time this QT was broadcast.
    For me the most interesting part of the discussion came following the question about how we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants, and of course the answer is that we can’t. So the logical solution must surely be that we treat them all the same. What that means is that we must concentrate on setting up camps for them, maybe even including some here in the UK (Scotland would be a good place to start) or preferably elsewhere (I have previously suggested the Falklands and stand by that, subject to assessment and consultation) and receive them as and when those camps are ready.
    What we must NOT under any circumstances do is give them or any of their children British Citizenship or Permanent Leave to Remain. They should be given Refugee Visas or temporary special British Refugee passports which expire when eventually it is safe for them to return to their home countries. The camps would not be internment camps in that they would be free to leave or travel, but they would not be given any entitlement to housing benefit, so the camp would be their only home. I don’t even have a problem with them seeking and finding work as that would reduce the cost to the taxpayer. Possibly a few would become self-sufficient in the wider community, but that would NOT secure them a British Passport, and they would be deported along with all the others when the time came. Provided this is made absolutely clear at the outset it should be possible to manage expectations.
    It is important that we are not seen as hard-hearted any more that being subject to knee-jerk compassion. Balance in all things!

  8. omanuel says:

    Thank you for identifying hypocrisy in politicians and religious leaders that has allowed communists to destroy western civilization.

    A few others are now starting to grasp the very close connection between the integrity of government and the integrity of government science:


    Worldwide national academies of sciences were united on 24 Oct 1945 when nations were united in Stalin’s apparent successful effort to expand the boarders of the old USSR to engulf the globe.

    ResearchGate is now starting to break the NAS’s totalitarian grip on science and research journals in the west.

  9. Ex-expat Colin says:

    The bloke interviewed on R4 Today at one of the border fences with 5 children and two women was an Iraqi…he said. Eurotunnel is stuffed again today. The southern arab states do nothing for their fellow book followers. Well, the bomb a few in Yemen.

    I thought the C of E went down the pan ages back…suddenly the ducks are up and one Bish don’t want to put any asylum seekers/refugees up himself? So there are exceptions in our book as well. I wouldn’t either because the risks related are huge and am not an avid book follower.

    Think president (in waiting) Trump could earn a good bit on quality walls here. Instead of fighting in court over SNP windmills. He also said recently that China needs a seeing to over ISIS selling them oil. Daves doing it later…you know?

    So, did the BBC let us know this from Putin when question posed by John Simpson. I never saw it on our TV system in UK:

  10. George says:

    You said “concentration camps ” Roger, well no need for an apology because that is exactly what they are ! Camps of migrants and asylum seekers concentrated in various camps around Europe.
    As for the EU, I just wonder if Cameron is waiting for the big crunch to come when it breaks up over the Euro so that the UK just say, “Goodbye” with no need to negotiate anything concrete.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      One fundamental issue missing though having read the praise for Cameron here:


      I am surprised about Justin. Seems he’s not as “with it” as his father, so he’s got those smart advisor’s. I heard climate change mentioned so I guess they’ve realised that there is a money trough nearby. Or have the missed the fact that the developing world wants a pile of cash from us all in the West.

      • Jane Davies says:

        No surprise here…..he is a very likable guy and we needed to boot out Harper and the other choice, the NDP, just didn’t cut it. I know it is a bit shallow but personalities are important these days. The NDP leader came across as smarmy and insincere and I thought his policies were similar to the Liberals anyway so it was down to whether one liked the persona. Besides……. Justin Trudeau has nice eyes!!!
        How shallow is that?

  11. Ian Saunderson says:

    You make good points. What’s missing is seeing the consequences. How do some very laudable ideas and plans actually get funded. Could you get into the idea of using your money, your time and your land to (by all means) do good work and stop demanding (with threats) that other people fund your good work.

    PR point – lose the unnecessary insults or jibes – they don’t help your sound arguments. Media types will only re-print and push the jibe and drop they real point – it disperses the force of your main point. On a radio or TV show you could key lose time (and ethics presence, support) with this sort of remark.

    Two fundamental problems – we should have an answer. 1) Why are they leaving their home? A war, a few lunatics. It does happen – but this has to be a part of the solution. Bombing and shooting, by and large, doesn’t end a war – it usually starts one and certainly keeps them going. Do we know how to stop a war? 2) What do we do with refugees? Certainly we should help – the help we give has to be willingly given by all involved. It’s wrong to force people to help – that isn’t real help at all. I ‘d think they want to live in country – much like Syria – without the war – were they can get on with their life and better it. Sounds ok to me. So that’s what I’d like to help them to do. So let’s do that and then there’s no problem anywhere.

  12. Dear Mr. Helmer, You raise an important point about the danger of knee-jerk compassion. I am a Christian minister (evangelical nonconformist), but I express my disagreement with the 84 Anglican bishops. It is essential that we reject a ‘compassion league table’ mentality which states that accepting 5,000 refugees is a lack of compassion, 20,000 is insufficient compassion, whilst 50,000 is much better compassion.

    There is no end to this kind of argument. Why not accept half a million, and then we shall be highly compassionate? Where, however, does the primary moral responsibility for the refugee crisis rest? It is surely with those actually conducting the war in Syria. They must rapidly cease their hostilities for the sake of their suffering people. The civil war also reflects to some extent the Sunni/Sh’ite division within Islam. This again suggests that the problem has to be solved within the Islamic world and within the region.

    It is certainly right that western governments give financial aid to the nations adjoining Syria – Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – in improving refugee facilities. It is obviously easier for the many refugees who are Muslims to find safe areas within the Middle East, where they can more readily assimilate into existing Islamic societies. So the wealthy Arab Gulf States should be encouraged to help their fellow Muslims fleeing the fighting.

    Syrian Christians caught up in the war are generally not to be found in the existing refugee camps, having been intimidated and expelled from them precisely because of their faith. So it is also vital to focus on establishing secure locations specifically for them, especially in Kurdistan.

    It also needs to be stated that those crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece in overcrowded boats, and then moving onwards to northern Europe, are not actually fleeing for their lives, because Turkey is a safe country. Many of those coming into Europe are not from Syria anyway. On the EU’s own figures, of the 213,000 claiming asylum in April to June of this year only 44,000 were escaping from the Syrian conflict. 

    As Christians we of course endeavour to help those in great need. This does not mean, however, that it is wrong for nations to control their borders, a principle which the Bible plainly upholds. We also need to ask this question : Does having left a nation embroiled in civil war confer the right to permanent residence in any country of one’s choice, no matter how far away and regardless of the legality of entry?

  13. Ex-expat Colin says:

    On the head subject and arising from an e-petition recently:
    “Stop allowing immigrants into the UK”, and it was started on 25 August 2015 (approx 198K signatures)


    If anybody runs through this (yawn) they will see an awful lot uttered by MPs that spins around immigration being a wonderful thing and MPs appear to be immigrants. They confuse the petitions wording with much earlier immigration and with whats happening now. These MPs roll out the familiar UKIP thing and related (xeno, bigotry and so on). After volumes of huff and puff the conclusion appears as:

    “a better way to manage migration – and also to take the population of the country with us on the journey, and turn around the ocean liner. We must always call out xenophobia, prejudice and bigotry when they are in front of us, but I suspect that, as the Minister said, many of the 198,000 people who signed the petition may have done so out of frustration and anger at what they see, and what they perceive through tabloid headlines and things they read on the internet”.

    Thats it……Resolved (they really think that it is too)

    Invasion now at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus… 4 boatloads on British sovereign soil

    • Jane Davies says:

      So the thousands of marchers (protesters) in Germany are all xenophobic bigots then? When will these politicians wake up and smell the coffee? I assume they are not stupid ( I know I shouldn’t assume anything ) so what is it they really want? Because from here it would seem they want to run the indigenous population out of the country and replace them with an Islamic run bunch of people who in turn will turn around and murder them, the politicians, once this has been achieved. So we have to ask why are they allowing this to happen? Is it all part of the Agenda 21, if so then they should be honest about it. I just hope the UK refuses to follow in the goosesteps of Merkel and her bunch of thieves and throw out the problem Muslims, stop allowing Halal food, stop Sharia law and explain to these people if this is an issue then encourage them to move to a country where they can have these things.

      • ian wragg says:

        Why do you assume they are not stupid. Look at energy policy, house building policy HS2. Of course they are stupid., It comes with the territory.

      • Jane Davies says:

        I did say I shouldn’t assume anything!……..I know they are stupid, for thinking we are the stupid ones and should just lie back and let them continue to ruin a once great country.
        I will add that unless the people rise up and demand enough is enough and take their country back then this will be a self fulfilling prophesy.

  14. Brin Jenkins says:

    They won’t until one or to decorate lamp posts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s