“Refugees Welcome” is a phrase commonly seen on placards at demonstrations held by the recently revitalised Cornish independence movement. Sometimes paired with other phrases such as “No More Second Homes”, “Fuck Yuppies” and “Tories Out”, the centrality of the statement “Refugees Welcome” at the forefront of the Cornish nationalism movement clearly flies in the face of conventionally liberal or left-wing wisdom, which automatically posits nationalism as right-wing and pernicious. We should instead recognise that “nationalism” doesn’t necessarily equate to ethno-nationalism, and that in parroting anti-nationalist rhetoric, we are likely regurgitating colonial propaganda. Anti-colonial movements fought for a collective nationalism defined by independence. Nationalism, then, cannot automatically be dismissed as a negative phenomenon.
Earlier in the summer of 2016, Norfolk County Council voted to continue their commitment to resettling fifty Syrian refugees around the county. The motion passed overwhelmingly, but the UKIP group on the council refused to support it, their leader claiming that “we have to look after our own first”. It’s disappointing that this sort of attitude prevails in Norwich. Those opposing the resettlement scheme may claim that refugees are hurting British culture — but to me, (especially in Norwich) it is in our culture to help those most in need.
Most people in Norwich may not realise just how much we have done as a city historically for refugees — and how much we owe them for our continued success.
by Robyn Banks
The migrant hoard was coming, a swarm of extremist middle Easterners desperate for new teeth who were going to simultaneously take all of the jobs and all of the job seekers allowance and probably wouldn’t even take a can of lager to the job centre like a proper British. They were going to threaten our way of life, make us all Muslim and were probably responsible for the recession. But somewhere along the way something changed and they became refugees — women, children, young men escaping war torn countries — deserving of our help and accommodation.
Talk of exits and bailouts have been plaguing the EU recently, and for a while it seemed as though the ‘migrant crisis’ was going to be the narrative sold to pull us all together, to make a case for the borders of Fortress Europe and to show that the EU was a big union capable of solving big problems. But then the public mood seemed to change. Suddenly people were ferrying van loads of donations to the camps at Calais and networks of volunteers seemed to spring up across the country. Syria was in the news again and ‘Refugees welcome’ marches attracted thousands. The establishment responded, but only with compromise.