I have written previously about the gap between Labour’s rhetoric and the delivery of Labour councils when it comes to Syrian refugees. David Cameron announced, in September 2015, the Syrian Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme. The target was to provide sanctuary for 20,000 over the course of this Parliament. The places would be provided by local government with funding from central government. Labour MPs then queued up – in Parliament and the media – to denounce the scheme for not going far enough. The figure of 20,000 was said to be far too low.
However, last year I noted that many Labour councils had yet to take a single person under this scheme. The latest figures show this is still the case.
Haringey Council is still on nil. Has the local Labour MP David Lammy uttered a word of criticism? In Parliament he complained to Cameron that the scheme “limited his help for Syrians to 4,000 a year”. Haringey Council’s limit is nil a year.
Harriet Harman spoke about how “keen” local authorities were to help. Not her Labour-run local authority of Southwark: which is still on nil.
Tom Watson, the Labour Deputy Leader, will support online petitions calling on us to take more refugees. When will he speak out against the failure of Sandwell, his local Labour council to do so?
What about Kate Osamor, the Shadow International Development Secretary? She is very willing to call on the Government to do more. Yet when it comes to criticising her local council of Enfield she is silent. Thus far Enfield has not welcomed a single person under the Syrian Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme.
Other Labour councils in London yet to take anyone under this scheme include the follow ones in London – Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Harrow, Hounslow, Merton and Tower Hamlets. Others have taken a derisory number – for instance my one of Hammersmith and Fulham has only taken three, despite constant virtue signalling on the subject.
In fairness, others have done better – Islington is on 25, Camden on 71. Among Conservative councils we have Barnet on 37 and Richmond upon Thames on 12.
Perhaps even worse – given his extravagant moralising – is the hypocrisy of the Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron. His local Lib Dem Council of South Lakeland is on nil. Sutton is another Lib Dem Council with the same score – the area includes the constituency of Tom Brake, the Lib Dem’s foreign affairs spokesman.
Yet around the country there are other councils that are rising to the challenge. The total admitted to the UK by December was 5,454. That covers a year and a quarter so it is broadly on target for the 20,000 figure. But if Labour and Lib Dems MPs would like us to do more (as I would) then the answer is for local authorities to agree to take more. Has a single Labour MP yet faced up to this inconvenient truth?