I took some criticism at the time for saying we should take in 15000 'Christian refugees' who seemed to be under particular threat. Not meant to suggest Christians were more valued than any other refugees. I was just responding in the context that Christians seemed to be singled out for persecution in many parts of our world. The negative response to my public support to take in refugees certainly made me wary of making any comment on the crisis since - probably not the response my critics would have wanted! The level of public interest has reached such a level that I'm venturing more comment. I also acknowledge that my view was as much about making me feel better about myself and my country and would have been a minuscule response to the massive humanitarian crisis a year ago. If anything it's worsened, certainly in terms of populations on the move.
As the crisis has developed over the last year, I have considered whether allowing significant numbers of refugees into European countries could actually make the problem worse. In two ways. Firstly it strengthens the siren calls of the evil people traffickers who have moved in to offer safe passage to EU countries, when the passage is anything but safe -and in many cases a roadway to death. And secondly it removes those who are often the most able and entrepreneurial people from their home areas - the very people who will at some stage be needed to rebuild.
What has nauseated me most has been the behaviour of the media over the last couple of weeks. We have been inundated with anti-migrant headlines for years. During the election, it was the top issue, even in Montgomeryshire, driven in part by media frenzy. For the whole of last week, there was one subject leading the news - the failure of the Govt to bring down net immigration. I did point this out in an interview on Radio Wales this week about comments made by the Home Secretary suggesting only allowing migrants to move to the UK if they had a job. The reporting confused economic migrants with refugees (and it's the latter that lose out).
The events of last few days has not changed my original view. The British people want a significant number of refugees to be allowed into our country to settle. While I'm not convinced it will improve the position overall, I do think it's worth allowing say 15000 to move here - though I make no suggestion how they should be chosen. It may help. It's almost impossible to decide what to do for the best. I just think the British people want to do something to help beyond the magnificent work the UK Govt has been doing supporting refugees near their home countries (which is where the solution lies). Anyway, I do think we should allow some to come in.