Amour sans Frontières
I was struck forcibly by the strange juxtaposition of two items on the television news this evening which, on the face of it at least, would appear to have nothing in common save to say that I was moved to tears of anguish by both of them. But it was this very effect that has brought me to write this post.
First was the senseless madness of the murder of the Yorkshire MP Jo Cox. It seems that a more likeable, more hard working, more committed, more human or more humane Member of Parliament could not be found in Westminster and the heartache amongst her colleagues at her loss was clearly profound. My heart goes out to her husband and young family who will have to bear that loss for the rest of their lives.
What I noted in particular, however, was the selflessness of her motivation to be in politics and her clear desire to “make a difference”, a phrase that was used by several of the colleagues and friends whose comments were reported in the news item. A major component of the “difference” she sought to make was the relief of suffering amongst Syrian refugees, especially, a less-than-fashionable aspiration in danger of being swamped by the xenophobia apparent in the run-up to the European Referendum next week.
Essentially, the key here, for me, was the international love for humanity that seemed to be a driving force for her campaigning.
The second news item perhaps struck me particularly because of its Brazilian component and the fact, of course, that I am married to a Brazilian. Doubtless, for many people, it would have paled into insignificance in relation to the main news item of the murder. But it involved a man from the East Midlands (ie quite local to me) whose pregnant Brazilian girlfriend had been threatened with deportation back to Brazil because she had overstayed her visitor`s visa.
All they want is for her to be able to stay in the UK long enough to have her baby safely, away from the awful Zika virus, which poses a threat to her wellbeing and that of her unborn child. The Government advice is for pregnant (British) women not to go to Brazil if it is not necessary but the Home Office seems not to care about a pregnant (Foreign) woman, even though the child she is carrying is fathered by a British man.
To be fair (although I do not particularly feel inclined to be fair to this heartlessness!) the Home Office has apparently revoked the immediate deportation threat and allowed the woman to stay until they have “reviewed” the situation, whilst reserving the right to deport her summarily once that review is complete, should they so choose.
It may be, of course, that by the time this blog post sees the light of day, the Home Office will have had a change of heart and Daisy Santiago will have been allowed to stay. But if that is the case it will be running counter to the direction of British Government Policy over recent years when it has become increasingly difficult for British citizens to bring their foreign loved ones into the country to live as happy families.
What is the connection in my mind between the two news stories?
Compassion and love form the basis of that connection. The phrase that sprang into my mind now forms the heading of this post – “Amour sans Frontières”. I grew up with a small-l liberal background which developed into a Large-L Liberal political involvement, but, at the heart of both, was a sense of the inherent compassion central to British values which had made this country the place of welcome for people from all cultures and countries who for whatever reason sought asylum from repressive or threatening regimes. Or the compassion which would not think for a second of sending the loved one of a British citizen into a situation which may prove dangerous to her and her unborn child.
This compassion, or this love without borders – “Amour sans Frontières” – has been severely diminished in recent years and the level of political debate in this country has degraded even the language of compassion, not least with respect to the current European referendum campaigning.
The very fact that the UKIP generated poster unveiled this week coincides so unfortunately with the murder of MP Jo Cox highlights the depths to which debate in this country has sunk. It is clearly designed to pander to racist fears about an influx of foreigners with swarthy skins and it is unworthy of any serious politician to be associated with it.
Please let us change the nature of political intercourse back to a more civilised, more compassionate level in keeping with truly humanitarian values espoused by Jo Cox. Let “Amour sans Frontières” become our watchwords from now on.
Well said, Keith in your latest blog!! I have been horrified by the language and lies from the Leave campaign regarding immigrants and now this terrible murder! And the arrogance of Brexit campaigners trying to make out that somehow we are better than everyone else! Well said! Pat
Excellent article, Keith, worthy of wider publication.
Thanks Bob – feel free to pass it onwards