Asylum seekers being forced to wear a brightly coloured wristband in order to get food is no different from the arrangements in place at cushy all-inclusive holiday resorts, according to Conservative MP David Davies and professional irritant Katie Hopkins.
The wristband policy was in place at Lynx House in Cardiff as a way of identifying asylum seekers who were entitled to receive free meals. However, a number of people said that the bands had made them the target of abuse and name calling. The situation bears resemblance to the policy in Middlesbrough of housing asylum seekers behind distinctive red doors. Both cases have seen a strong reaction, with comparisons made to the Nazi policy of forcing Jews to wear yellow felt Stars-of-David for identification. Local Labour MP Jo Stevens spoke out against the practice:
But David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, ridiculed the concerns and said that he and his family had to wear wristbands on their holiday to picturesque Lake Balaton in Hungary (pictured above) “so people couldn’t just walk in off the beach to claim a free meal”. A regular critic of immigration, Davies suggested that if an asylum seeker was bothered about a wristband:
That doesn’t sound as if he was suffering very much where he came from, and perhaps he’d be better off going back there.
Rent-a-gob wades in
Katie Hopkins offered a very similar viewpoint in her regular Daily Mail rant. She didn’t specify the location but said that her kids loved the feeling of getting something for nothing when they flashed their wristbands. And of course, that’s what being an asylum seeker is like. After spouting all the usual nonsense about migrants only coming to the UK because of the free stuff on offer and nobody deserving to eat unless they’ve worked for it, she attempted to counter the fact that asylum seekers are ineligible for work. That’s no argument, she contends, because all refugees should actually stay in their countries of origin and fight. Goodness knows how but in some strange way she seems to think the one thing that would improve matters in Syria (apparently refugees can’t come from anywhere else) is more fighting.
What these self-righteous witterings completely fail to grasp is that the issue isn’t to do with wristbands. Wristbands are fine, if you’re choosing to wear one in support of a charity, or because you’re trying to keep the Glastonbury buzz going for a few hours longer. Wearing a jaunty yellow star on your lapel would be fine if it was obviously just a yellow star and nothing else.
As Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood explains very clearly and patiently to a rather befuddled Adam Boulton below, the wristbands were most likely introduced with no ill intent. However, they’ve had the effect of making a vulnerable group of people more instantly recognisable, which has unfortunately led to victimisation.
Happily, the wristbands (apparently introduced as a cost-saving measure by the contractor used by the Home Office) have been withdrawn following the outcry. Refugees are facing enough obstacles, often driven by fatuous myths, without drawing hostile attention to them. Common decency demands they should be given every opportunity to live safely from day to day, without harrassment. Hopefully those involved in providing services will think twice before employing measures that set refugees apart and tag them as targets for bullies, racists, Tory MPs and, worst of all, Daily Mail columnists.
– Have you got a local refugee support group? Join it or start one.
– Speak out if you see this kind of labelling going on. It makes a difference. Two harmful policies have been reversed in a week.
– Be excellent to each other. Simple kindness and hospitality means more than you will ever know to people who have risked and lost everything.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?