Scottish Greens – East Renfrewshire

On Contempt and Conservatism in East Renfrewshire and Beyond

It occurs to me that while we’ve been drawing attention to the democratic crisis in our local government, we haven’t yet commented on the Conservative opposition in East Renfrewshire council.  Tory councillor Gordon McCaskill’s recent poorly considered joke about Nicola Sturgeon’s offer to personally house Syrian refugees provides an opportunity to do just that:


Mr McCaskill is an elected member for the Netherlee, Stamperland and Williamwood ward, and while he has been suspended from the Conservative party for this now-deleted tweet, we are still waiting to see if there will be any further action.

The tweet itself a fumbled witticism that insults vulnerable people in the hopes of scoring a cheap laugh against a political opponent.  More than that, it echoes the nonsense paranoia of some of the UK’s more openly racist political organisations.   Still, even writing this off as a rogue effort, it’s hard not to ignore the way its callous attitudes are reinforced by the actions of Mr McCaskill’s party.  Under David Cameron’s proposals, we will take in a mere six Syrian refugees per constituency each year between now and 2020.  When questioned on the link between the UK’s arms sales and the ongoing refugee crisis by Green MP Caroline Lucas, Cameron was blithely dismissive of the human cost of this massive industry.

Mr McCaskill’s tweet is more blatant in its disdain for the refugees, but these responses from the highest level of his party are not just inhumane but totally inadequate to the situation at hand.

The East Renfrewshire Greens will be standing candidates in every ward in the 2017 council elections in the hope of providing local residents a fresh alternative to our current council that is also free from the contempt that underlies Conservative politics.



2 comments on “On Contempt and Conservatism in East Renfrewshire and Beyond

  1. Thee Guv
    September 27, 2015

    In fairness to McCaskill, he’s got a point albeit he makes it badly and is paying the price. We do not know who we are letting in. Presumably that’s why Cameron’s preferred option is to select individuals from the refugee camps albeit we are not going to able to check criminal and intelligence records.
    I have the greatest sympathy for refugees but one of the advantages the UK has is the fact we are an island.
    The press seem to be driving public sentiment and of course the UN is as useless as most quangoes. They should be curing the problem at source rather than dealing with the consequences. I wonder how attractive the UK will seem to the refugees after a really cold winter?
    Press reports have suggested that the wee boy who unfortunately drowned had been living with his family in Turkey for the last 3+ years so hardly a political refugee. There are also stories of thousands of young men fleeing torture and persecution yet leaving their wives and children behind. Why are the Arab countries not stepping in and either sorting the problem or taking refugees? After all they have a culture these people are familiar with.
    Have we really thought this through properly? I fear not!


  2. daval82
    September 27, 2015

    The idea that Arab countries have not already stepped in to take refugees is simply untrue. As reported here nations like Jordan, Lebanon, Egpyt and Iraq have taken in millions:

    There is certainly an issue with some of the richer gulf states not taking in refugees, for example the above report alleges that Saudi Arabia and Quatar have not taken in any Syrian refugees. Do we want to let these states lead the response though? This piece by our co-convenor Maggie Chapman convincingly argues that we should distance ourselves from Saudi Arabia, rather than treating them as leaders in the field of human rights:

    The Scottish Greens are committed to tackling this problem at source, as you put it, because we recognise that successive UK governments have done nothing to make the region of the world in question safer. We also recognise that the politics of the area are fraught with tensions that are not easily resolved, and that the UK should do what it can for people who are currently suffering. Should we aim to do nothing just because some other countries have, or should we aim to do what we are capable of? I would suggest that the latter is the only acceptable course in the face of such a widespread catastrophe.

    With regards to the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi and his family members, I can’t agree with your statement that this family were “hardly” political refugees. As per this report in the Telegraph:

    “They left Damascus in 2012 and headed to Aleppo, and when clashes happened there, they moved to Kobane. And again, when clashes happened there, they moved to Turkey.

    “They returned to Kobane at the start of this year after Isil had been pushed back, but in June Isil re-took the town and the family went back to Turkey.

    “They had been in Bodrum for a month, saving money for their journey, and it was not their first attempt to get to Greece, according to the Turkish journalist Jenan Moussa.”

    By any reasonable standard, this family were political refugees. As with your comment about young men leaving their wives and family behind, your suggestion to the contrary seems to attempt to undermine the credibility of people in an unspeakably desperate situation. Mr McCaskill’s tweet achieved a similar effect, albeit far more gratuitously, and came across as a frankly baffling attempt at political positioning in the process. You state that we do not know who we might be taking in, but this literal truth is couched in an exaggerated sense of the threat posed by Syrian refugees. One last quote for the road, this time from Reuters:

    “Refugees present a low threat. Operating as though all refugees are a security risk is counterproductive and runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Security measures that deny refugees their dignity are more likely to foster extremism and violent tendencies because they increase refugees’ grievances against host governments and contribute to their sense of alienation. A study of Somali refugees in Yemen, for example, found that refugees who were mistreated by their teachers in Yemeni schools were more likely to join al Qaeda. A less securitized approach to the treatment of refugees is more likely to keep the threat of militarization and radicalization at bay.”


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This entry was posted on September 17, 2015 by in East Renfrewshire Council and tagged .
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