At the end of a tumultuous week, I wanted to celebrate our collective success in forcing a total Government reversal on the Syria resettlement call. It was a truly prodigious achievement for which we can all take huge credit. I also wanted to express our immense gratitude for the way that your willingness to respond actively and creatively whenever we made a call to sign letters, mobilise supporters, brief media, buttonhole politicians, etc, etc, etc, made our coordination of the campaign that much easier.
From the first letter sent to the Minister for Immigration by Refugee Action, the Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils and us, last July (to which a formal reply was never received – all I ever got was a phone call from an official in November asking me whether I wanted a written response!) it was a text book campaign. The range of those engaged, in addition to all of us, grew steadily through the autumn to include the leading aid agencies, a cross-party coalition of MPs and Peers, celebrities, most of the broadsheets, and crucially, so many of our individual supporters, and it was that ability to marshal such a powerful and influential consensus that gave the campaign such impetus.
Though the number of refugees that the Government is talking about is far lower than it could or should be, our primary target was to secure Government agreement to the principle of resettlement of the most vulnerable. Now that we’ve got that, we need to think about how we bring pressure on increasing the numbers. I suspect that Parliamentarians in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff, and Local Authorities across the UK will have big roles to play in that, as well as the mainstream opinion formers and commentators, the media and the general public. We’re starting to think about the next steps and will circulate some of our thoughts in the next couple of weeks.
For now though, let’s just savour and reflect on our success in overcoming implacable Home Office opposition and, in doing so, trumping the Government’s crude ‘hostile environment’ and scapegoating rhetoric.
With very best wishes
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