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Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman should be ashamed but Gary Linker can't have his cake and eat it.

Updated: Mar 11, 2023

The snow is blowing in from the northeast, sometimes driven hard at forty-five degrees in the gusts, and then the wind drops and flurries chase in circles as flakes, grabbed by gravity, fall silently to their final resting place. Meanwhile, I have a fire crackling in the hearth; I am warm, dry and safe.

My mind wanders to those courageous, perhaps frightened souls fighting in Ukraine for their - and our freedom. What they must be enduring is unimaginable to most of us. What a truly deranged and evil man Putin must be.

My mind wanders further to the seemingly petty furore around comments made by Gary Linikar, the BBC's football pundit. Like him or loath him, by all measures, he is a decent man. His remarks on Ms Suella Braverman, our serving Home Secretary, regarding a new bill stopping immigrants crossing the channel has upset a number of conservative MPs.

The wind is howling, and I am thinking of these immigrants shivering on beaches near Calais.

He, Gary Linikar, compared the current stance of the conservative government to Hitler's Germany in the mid-1930s.

While it is a bit of a cheap shot, and if you have read any books about the holocaust and the persecution of the Jews, Gypsies, and Homosexuals or visited any extermination camps, you will understand why.

However, I don't believe Mr Linikar is wrong in his sentiments around how we in the UK should treat migrants - certainly not as Ms Braverman intends.

Why should persecuted people not search for a better life? While it may be true that the most significant single number of migrants risking the channel crossing in small rubber inflatables are Albanians, a comparatively safe, although developing country, many more are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. And there is no escaping the fact that the UK has some responsibility for creating these unstable, authoritarian and warring countries that these migrants leave at considerable risk. And whatever happened to our compassion for others less fortunate than ourselves? We were proudly a founding signatory of the UN charter of Human Rights and are, rightly, now roundly condemned by the UN for our despicable behaviour.

I never rated or admired Priti Patel, and she appeared to lack any humane empathy or understanding of what it meant to be British - but as a friend of mine put it - Suella Braverman is like Priti Patel on steroids. And taking their anti-immigrant stance, the irony isn't lost that both of them, and our Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, all heralded from families that immigrated to the UK and had that chance to become British.

We have, I believe, set about this issue of immigration in entirely the wrong way. We should be over in Calais in force, interviewing and screening these people, actively helping them come to the UK, and rejecting those who do not meet the criteria to become good citizens of Great Britain. There are so many stories of people who came to this country in the past and have been so grateful for the chance at life that British citizenship gave them, and so many of them have gone on to do great things for our country and community. At the same time, down to these nincompoops in the right and left wings of politics, we have managed to deprive ourselves of hard-working individuals with talent, and consequently, our ability to create wealth in this country is diminishing.

So common sense - if not British decency should be directing our course of travel on immigration.

Although not wholly correct in his direct comparison, Gary Linikar's sentiments spoke of what it is to be British. But he is paid over a million pounds a year by the BBC. He has so many followers directly because of his frequent appearances on the BBC. The BBC have made Gary Linikar famous and relevant - and saying the BBC does not directly employ him is a technicality. If you are in my house - you live by my rules. It is that simple. The BBC pay Gary Linikar a vast amount of money and has every right to expect Gary Linikar to adhere to their rules. And it is of vital importance that the BBC remain an impartial voice in our land.

So - much as I have some sympathies with Gary Linikar's views, he can't have his cake and eat it. Stay with the BBC, take the money and fame, or keep your opinions to yourself and be impartial - or stand for Parliament. But, good a man as you are - you can't have your cake and eat it, Gary.

Rikki - Suffolk - UK - 10th March - 2023

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