Farrukh Dhondy | Trouble grows for Sunak after Lineker stands up for asylum seekers
By DECCAN CHRONICLE | Farrukh Dhondy
“The blind singer urges the nightingale
To fly from this veil of tears
Urging her to fly to the land of springs
Away from the world of deceitful seers
This alley, he sings, is a home of no return
Where hearts are broken and all our pasts burn
Leaving ashes of memory, that’s all that remains
O nightingale fly to the land of eternal rains.
From The Idli-Ad, by Bachchoo
No, I am not Nostradamus, nor was meant to be, but I did predict that Rishi Sunak would make a deal with the EU and on the back of that start moves and noises towards immigration control. So it was written, and so it’s being done.
Was that obvious? OK. But my latest assessment is that “Hedgie” Sunak is on a tightrope. He can do nothing to tackle the decline of the British economy, the crisis of prices and the cost of living, labour shortages, the strikes of every public service, etc.
His strategy for survival is two-fold. In the first instance he had to see off his former boss Boris Johnson, whose manoeuvring indicates that he plans to be the comeback kid. His supporters say that he alone can win the votes of the “Red Wall” constituencies -- the working class of the Midlands and the North. But BoJo’s prospects are bleak. Hedgie has, through renegotiating the Northern Ireland Protocol, which mess BoJo hastily negotiated to “get Brexit done!”, outflanked him.
Poor BoJo will any day now have to face a parliamentary committee which is investigating the allegation that he broke his own lockdown rules by hosting parties or ignoring other gatherings in 10 Downing Street and telling lies to Parliament about these. The evidence against his denials is overwhelming and the chief Labour party prosecutor is the dynamic and determined Harriet Harman, a distinguished lawyer.
Hedgie was involved in one of these gatherings and was fined by the police for it. He has wisely said that he won’t give evidence as it would undoubtedly appear as Brutus twisting the knife in Caesar’s wound.
With his government’s ratings falling steadily behind those of the Labour Party, Hedgie’s next popular move was to instigate and back his home secretary “Cruella” Braverman (nee Goan Fernandes) in presenting a bill to Parliament to stop asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in boats from France. Hedgie and Cruella calculate that this ruthless policy will win them the votes of those who agree with Cruella’s description of asylum seekers as “invaders” who will overwhelm Britain’s health, housing, educational and other facilities.
In addition, Hedgie is in the process of negotiating with France a deal through which Britain would pay France half a billion pounds to set up a detention centre in France to keep the aspirant boat people from crossing the Channel.
Will this work? Will such a detention centre corral all the would-be asylum seekers and hold them back? Un-flipping-likely? My prediction is that Hedgie and Cruella Canute will not be able to stem that tide.
Uh! There I go, using language like “tide” to describe the desperate life-risking efforts of small-boat asylum seekers. Tch tch! But, no doubt, gentle readers will have realised that I used this inappropriate metaphor to recall the language used by Cruella in talking about voiceless immigrants, in response to which the star of BBC football commentating, Gary Lineker, objected. His tweet said that Cruella & Co were using language against voiceless people which resembled the language of the Nazis of 1930s Germany.
You will recall the controversy that followed. Lineker was suspended and then reinstated as a commentator on Match of the Day, the most popular football programme of the BBC.
Other sports commentators, in support of Lineker, stopped work for the BBC. The BBC was accused of succumbing to pressure from the Tories. The news headlines concluded: Lineker 1; BBC 0!
One could go further with this scoring. Lineker’s intervention will certainly count against Cruella, Hedgie and their party at the next election. He has nearly ten million followers, very many of whom agree with his pronouncements against Cruella’s language and attempted legislative measures.
In all fairness, one ought to say that these are not even measures she dreamed up on her own. Enter one Richard Tice. Who is he? He is the leader of the “Reform Party”, formerly known as the “Brexit Party”. Under this banner they will contest the elections with several far-right policies. One of these is to block the small-boat asylum seekers, towards which Tice and gang have formulated four brutal measures: (1) Declare a national emergency; (2) Leave the European Convention of Human Rights; (3) Immigrants who have entered the UK illegally will not be allowed to settle, whatever their circumstances; and (4) Get the Navy or other agencies to pick up people attempting the crossing and dump them on beaches of France.
The Canutes picked up two of these policies but can’t countenance the first -- which is frankly idiotic; and the second has far more ramifications than it will solve. Nevertheless two Tice proposals are now before Parliament in the Canutes’ attempt to refresh their popularity.
Nostradamus would say the attempt will rebound as Reform’s more extreme proposals, on counts including and other than the boat people, will compete with the Tories for votes and split the lunatic right, letting Labour in.
Speak up Ticey, more power to your divisive elbow, though I won’t be voting Reform.