DAVID Cameron says that the government will do “everything we can” to work with the French authorities to resolve the security crisis at Calais, where between 1,000 and 2,000 desperate migrants have tried to board trains or lorries bound for Britain each night this week.
Travellers crossing the Channel face lengthy delays, and 3,600 lorries are queuing up on the M20, unable to make their intended journey while the authorities try to get the volatile situation under control.
Speaking from Singapore, the Prime Minister said: “There’s no point trying to point fingers of blame – it’s about working with the French, putting in place these additional security measures, adding in the investment where that’s needed.”
Mr Cameron’s words do not sound convincing. Shuttle operator Eurotunnel says it has blocked 37,000 migrants trying to make their way to Britain this year, and the current situation first escalated several weeks ago when the numbers of migrants multiplied. Since then, all parties have done little else but blame each other. Meanwhile, the problem grows. Lorry drivers are in fear of attack from mobs who want to board their vehicles.
The proposed solution last month wasn’t exactly comprehensive: if one fence isn’t enough, we’ll build another. This week, we hear calls of “send in the Gurkhas”. Whatever is being attempted simply isn’t working.
There is no sense of the British and French authorities genuinely working together to fix this problem, if not at source but at least in terms of public safety. Yesterday, the United Nations refugee agency said that the migration crisis stems from the international community’s inability to prevent conflicts, which causes people to flee violence. Although this may be true, history demonstrates that a world without conflict is not a realistic scenario, and addressing the reasons why migrants are seeking asylum in Europe is not, at this stage, the practical priority.
The UK and French governments have a joint and urgent responsibility to secure the border before the circumstances which have brought about this situation can be dealt with further. It cannot be beyond the wit and enormous resources of the authorities to achieve this at the earliest opportunity. Only then can the fate of migrants claiming asylum be dealt with effectively, not just by Britain and France, but by the European Union.
Mr Cameron now has to demonstrate that doing “everything we can” is a genuine response to the consequences of a humanitarian crisis, rather than the right – and easy – thing for a politician to say. After so many weeks without any satisfactory progress on this matter, there is a hollow ring to the Prime Minister’s determination.
Saluting the mighty tattie scone
It’s time to face the hard facts and admit an uncomfortable truth: there are people out there who do not think that preserving the identity of the tattie scone is Scottish society’s biggest challenge today.
There are reports that cynical observers have mocked the guardians of Scottish identity who have held a national supermarket to account after it was found guilty of using the word “p*tato” instead of “tattie”. Some have taken Tesco to task over its further failure to label said scones in Gaelic.
No doubt these are the same philistines who were unmoved when the very existence of the much-loved macaroni pie came under threat recently, idly standing by while another national icon almost went the way of Creamola Foam and the Hillman Imp.
This is a serious matter. We cannot be sure that this undermining of Caledonia’s culinary culture would stop with the use of the word p*tato. Any takers for a “spud scone”? Thought not. It’s just unpalatable.
And what would then become of the tattie holidays in October, farmers’ friend the tattie bogle, and even Scotland’s world bowls champion Alex “Tattie” Marshall?
So it is with great relief that we learn the tattie scone has been spared, and can take its place on our kitchen bunkers at breakfast time without being scared to speak its name.
But joking aside, it is pleasing that a multinational recognises there remains a place for local identity in an increasingly homogenised marketplace.
Mercifully, there is no need for our headline howkers to dig out that “Scone but not forgotten” line just yet.