Today, in desperation, we sent a letter to our MP. Usually such letters get a boiler plate response, dictated by Conservative Central Office. We aren’t hopeful about changing the mind of our MP. Before he was elected he ran a shockingly misogynist web site, now deleted. But it’s essential to do what one can to about democracy while we still have some.
Dear Mike Penning
I doubt whether this will be the only letter you’ll get along these lines.
1. The Conservative party used to be the party of business. Brexit has destituted many small businesses and impoverished the UK. That’s not just my opinion, but that of the OBR. And it hasn’t been the will of the people except for a few weeks around the time of the referendum. The vote was bought by Russian (and far-right US) money. Putin was a strong advocate of brexit. He got his way.
2. The Conservative party used to be the party of law and order. Now, it seems, it thinks it’s enough to say sorry, let’s move on. It has become the party of law-breaking.
3. The Rwanda scheme is intolerable. Government ministers appear regularly on TV and radio referring to people arriving illegally. It is NOT illegal to ask for asylum however you arrive in the country. Ministers must know this, so they are lying to the public. This should not happen. It breaks the ministerial code and in the recent past it would have led to resignation. That honourable tradition is ignored by the Conservative party.
4. As a backbencher I hope that you are as appalled as we are that there will be no debate in parliament about a matter as controversial as the Rwanda proposals. That is more what one might expect in a dictatorship than in a democracy. The Rwanda proposals cost a fortune, are probably illegal and they won’t work anyway.
5. Ministers repeatedly claim that the UK’s record for taking refugees is world-beating. You yourself made a similar claim in your recent letter to us. Surely you must know that this is simply not true, Even the famous Kindertransport in WW2 refused to take the parents of the children who arrived in the UK – they were left to be murdered by the Nazis. More recently, Germany accepted a million Syrians. In comparison, we took only a handful.
6. Most recently, the Ukraine war has again showed the UK in a bad light. Poland has accepted millions of people fleeing from Putin’s war. We have accepted only a handful. Priti Patel’s scheme, Homes for Ukraine, verges on being a sham. We signed up for it as soon as it opened, but nothing has happened. We are trying to find a refugee to sponsor. Apparently thousands have asked, but the government has done nothing to help. We are among the 100,000 British people who wanted to do something to help, only to find ourselves thwarted by the government.
7. Although sanctions were (very belatedly) imposed on some uber-wealthy Russians when Putin invaded Ukraine, they were given plenty of time to move their assets before the sanctions were enforced. Was the government concerned that the large contributions that Russians made to Conservative party funds might dry up?
In summary, the Conservative party now bears no resemblance to the Conservative of even 10 years ago. It has morphed into a far-right populist party with scant regard for honesty, or even democracy itself. More like Orban’s Hungary than the country we were born in. We are sad and ashamed that the UK is laughed at and pitied round the world (do you read foreign newspapers? – their view of Johnson’s government is chastening).
We hope this government falls before it destroys totally the England in which we were born.
David & Margaret Colquhoun