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The Scarlet Letter

Although Boris’ letter is written in the most friendly and amiable manner towards Emmanuel and the EU generally, and its references to earlier discussions between them are phrased in a very positive way, I can make a guess at why Boris thought continuing the discussion somewhat more in the public gaze was a good idea. I can likewise make a guess at why this allowing the public a look at what is happening made Macron furious enough to cancel today the meetings agreed to yesterday.

However that is not the point of my post (but commenters are welcome to spread themselves on that subject if they wish). I want to discuss the letter itself. Overtly, everything in it is about the wicked people smugglers and their poor trafficked victims. I was reminded of ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric, typically eager to focus blame on evil pushers, not victimised addicts.

In the war on drugs, that way of looking at things is not always and only spin.

– I knew a woman whose life took a very different turn from anything she’d expected. She chanced to encounter a young drug addict – let’s call her Moira (not her name) in this post – whose family and friends, after trying very hard, had finally despaired of her. It became indisputably clear to my friend that either someone would work a miracle or Moira would be dead within a few months at most. Where ninety-nine in a hundred would have walked by on the other side, my friend took Moira into her own house and gave her that unconditional love that is so very much more often preached than practised. A few months later, Moira was clean – and stayed so. My friend went back to her old life, thinking, “that was weird” – but less than a year later she was confronted by a family quite literally on their knees before her, begging her to do for their daughter the miracle she had achieved for Moira. They were not the last to do so. Thus, gradually, not intending it, she discovered her vocation was to redeem drug addicts, one at a time. She had her successes and her failures. In the end, she become someone whom social work directors and suchlike government figures consulted – though she seemed to feel her hard-won, very tough-minded experience was more apt to shock than to change their fashionable theories.

– For years, a former neighbour went with his evangelical church group into Glasgow on Saturday nights, offering coffee and food, and encouragement to get out of that life, to any hookers-cum-addicts willing to visit their bus. There were funny incidents – one girl (still in her hooker’s outfit) came to his church, threw her arms around him and kissed him, gushing about how he had (physically and morally) saved her. “Does you wife know about this kind of thing?”, asked a staid member of the congregation. There were horrible incidents. Week after week, one girl came to argue them down, to tell the other girls not to fall for all this Jesus stuff. Then, one evening, when others were momentarily elsewhere, she quietly told him, “I know you think I’m horrible and hopeless, but actually I am listening”. A week later, she was dead – murdered. She was a nobody in her world – but knew too much to be let leave it. Where my friend thought he’d been urging her to resist temptation and failing – actually, she’d been fighting the temptation to risk trying.

These of course, are the exceptions – the miracles. We all know who else populate the drug addict world: people who give convincing impressions of having sold their souls and paid up; misery that loves company and inflicts it with psychopathic indifference; people who stopped being victims long ago. In between, there are those who are simultaneously both. One Saturday night, an honest policeman asked my old neighbour, “Why do you waste your time on such people?” – and had no lack of illustrative examples.

It’s the same in the people-trafficked world. The trafficked are a complicit commodity – and you can place great emphasis on both those words. This guy came to the UK to loot the welfare state and steal the rest of what he’d promised to his traffickers – knowing that his family back in Syria were his traffickers’ security. When being caught delayed his ability to pay them, they pimped out his wife and kids – whereupon he gave a strong proof that he was genuinely upset about that. Like some German officer late in WWII, aware that too swift a surrender might be revenged on his family, or some Soviet cold-war agent of influence who knew with certainty what Stalin would do to his family if he defected, the trafficked can be simultaneously enemies of the UK and victims of its more powerful enemies.

With that background under our belt, let’s return to the letter. I don’t care for the cautious deference Boris’ phrasing shows to “right-think” (i.e. left-think), with all the blame thrown on the traffickers and none on the illegal migrants. But the letter does challenge the far filthier PC narrative of ‘asylum seekers’, with the true nature of this political, commercial and above-all criminal operation not even mentioned to deny it, but just insolently ignored. Against that, I welcome the publicity Macron’s tantrum will give Boris’ letter. It’s a step towards wider understanding; may it start a journey.

20 comments to The Scarlet Letter

  • Ferox

    As with our southern border, and the many migrants who die trying to enter the US illegally (or who become victim to predatory crime enterprises while doing so), it is the hope of success which draws them. Therefore it follows logically that any policy which allows the slightest hope of success in that endeavor is responsible for the outcomes which follow.

    If you want to stop trafficking, if you want to stop people drowning in the channel, if you want to stop human smugglers who exact such a high toll on their victims, simply enact policies which remove any hope of success in illegally entering the country.

    But of course, the political upside (for certain dirty traitorous SOBs) of that chain of human misery is too great to allow any such prohibitory policies. So it will continue on and on.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I am glad you have posted on this emotive topic Niall, because I was afraid to. I cannot put my finger on exactly what I was afraid of. Having my mind changed? Having it made inescapably clear to me that my mind had changed?

    Thank you for linking to Perry Metzger’s post “On Immigrants” from 2015. I remember it well. That post and the 251 comments it generated are well worth reading to see the arguments from both sides, in fact from more than two sides, being put forward with eloquence, if not always charity. Nonetheless it looks to me as if that post was not what you meant to link to with the words “This Syrian”. A quick scan of the comments for the word “Syrian” did not yield the particular case you mentioned.

  • Natalie, thank you very much for pointing out that my link was defaulting to the top of the post, not linking to the particular incident I was describing (I had missed a digit in the comment reference). I have now fixed the link.

    The very long thread spawned by that old post contained three (IIRC only three) comments that were simply/mainly anecdotal (i.e. more experience than theory).

    this from a guy who used to live in Rotherham;

    this referencing a posted account of a Pole encountering migrants on the Italian-Austrian border;

    this the one I meant about the Syrian who “went insane and died”.

    And as I am writing this, I’ll indulge my vanity by linking to my own sole comment in that thread – no surprise it makes a historical point. 🙂

    (Finally, for anyone who follows those links to that thread, it may avoid momentary confusion to point out that Perry Metzger of New York, who wrote the original post that spawned a thread of much heat and light, and is the ‘Perry’ mentioned in some comments, is not Perry de Havilland of London whose blog this is.)

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Perhaps the authorities might treat the problem of the illegal Islamist invasion of the UK with more urgency if it was framed in purely environmental terms; i.e. that accepting large numbers of people supposedly ‘seeking a better life’ by moving from low-income warm-climate countries to high-income colder-climate countries, with the resultant substantial increase in their carbon footprints, is hardly likely to be beneficial to their ‘Net Zero’ aspirations.

    Or possibly we might just get the people-smugglers and the UK government to do a job swap. Rationale: The gangs know what they are doing and are clearly effective and successful at their chosen task, whereas BoJo and Co give every impression of being incapable of finding ice for their drinks if they were standing at the South Pole. Therefore we could reasonably expect that the administration of the country would be improved while the flow of migrants would dry up quickly through sheer incompetence.

  • bobby b

    I’ve known a fair number of illegal Mexican border-jumpers in my day. I’m always torn – a nation needs discrete enforced borders for its own integrity, but, as individuals, the vast majority of those border-jumpers I’ve known have my admiration and respect. They’re taking risks to better their own life and the lives of their families. If you’ve spent time in the areas from which these jumpers come, you understand why they take those risks. The gang-bangers get the headlines, but the families, and the single guys sending money back home, make up the bulk of the jumpers.

    These, then, are the two issues people always conflate: the wrongness of border-jumping, and the dangers inherent in doing so. BJ is only addressing the second issue. Thus, his tone of protectiveness for the jumpers, who are buying services from people – help in crossing – who may not be nice people, and who place their clients at huge risk for their own enrichment. These people have managed to externalize all of the risks in their services to their clients. The coyotes never die in the desert.

    I see no problem with BJ’s tone of “let’s help the victims.” The dead boaters were truly victims. We can argue the border-integrity question separately, but we have to see it as a distinct argument.

    The decent way to increase your border integrity ought not rely on increasing the physical danger to the families attempting to cross. There are other, sounder ways to accomplish this.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Related to bobby’s comment, but something that i have been wondering about for a while:
    Why have i not seen a single article about the reasons why people (presumably, mostly poorly educated Muslims, if that is relevant; which it probably is) are willing to risk the Channel crossing on rickety boats, when well-off British people are eager to buy second homes in France?

    Reporters seem to assume that there is no need for an explanation for this phenomenon.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I’d also be interested to hear from Niall about the methods used by his acquaintance who rehabilitated Moira.

  • Phil B

    Using the drug analogy, suppose you have a drug dealer supplying 100 addicts. Arresting and getting the drug dealer off the streets does nothing to address the fact that there are still 100 addicts needing their daily fix. The next character will step up, increase the price of the drugs and make sure that they do not make the mistakes that the first dealer made.

    Rinse and repeat until you realise that all you are doing is breeding a more intelligent, agile and professional dealer, increasing the price of drugs and, as a consequence, the level of crime committed by the addicts to buy their fix.

    Callous as it seems, simply shooting the addicts would stop the demand for the drugs and the dealers would go out of business.

    The people smugglers are untouchable and virtually impossible to identify. The illegal immigrants need to be persuaded that setting foot in the UK means that they will be rounded up, put on an RAF aircraft and parachuted into Afghanistan in the clothes they stand up in. Or, to make sure that they can’t try a second time, parachuted into Africa and let the lions deal with the problem.

    Once that message gets out, then maybe they will be unwilling to pay the people smugglers and/or go into debt to them (and turn to a life of crime in the UK to pay back the costs paid to the trafficers).

  • bobby b

    Snorri Godhi
    November 26, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    “Why have i not seen a single article about the reasons why people (presumably, mostly poorly educated Muslims, if that is relevant; which it probably is) are willing to risk the Channel crossing on rickety boats, when well-off British people are eager to buy second homes in France?”

    My assumption is that France is a good place to live if you have money, but not so fun if you are poor. Which is loaded with implications for the welfare systems of the two countries.

    Phil B
    November 27, 2021 at 1:45 am

    “The illegal immigrants need to be persuaded that setting foot in the UK means that they will be rounded up, put on an RAF aircraft and parachuted into Afghanistan in the clothes they stand up in.”

    Just do what Australia did a few years back. Stop the “wait here in-country while we slowly process your application for asylum” joke and move to competent interdiction and immediate return, wile handing them a form to fill out and submit to your embassy back in their own country. If people know that sneaking across a border means, for all intents and purposes, that they’re in, they’ll keep coming. If they know that arrival just means a predictable flight back, they stop trying as hard. And they stop dying in the attempts.

  • Paul Marks

    Very good post Niall.

    There are still good people who manage to save some (some – not all) people they try to save. Drugs and prostitution are vices (destructive vices) – and a libertarian who forgets that has become a libertine. But what your post shows is that the criminal law is of limited use (indeed may do HARM rather than good) when dealing with matters of the human heart – the intense MOCKERY that Victorians who went out to try and save people in the cities have been subjected to (all the way back to the Bloomsbury Set) is horribly unjustified, there were indeed hypocrites and prudes – but there were far more dedicated and sincere people (of whom you give modern examples) who tried to save people.

    I would remind everyone that for much of the 19th century the modern laws against various vices did-not-exist – and yet conditions improved in the cities over time, due to personal efforts of dedicated people (the people who have been viciously mocked in films from the 1960s onwards). The modern approach of trying to deal with vices such as drugs and prostitution by the criminal law, rather than by personal moral effort by dedicated people, has not so well. I am certainly NOT such a person (I am not fit to tie their shoelaces – I am full of sin) – but they still exist, as your post shows.

    As for migration – “the gates of the town should be open to friends, but closed to foes”.

    People have been building defences against HOSTILE migrants for thousands of years – often without any orders from governments.

    Indeed communities that do not defend themselves against hostile migrants (people who do not come to be part of the existing culture – but, rather, to impose their own culture), do not survive.

    The difficulty is that we can not even discuss these matters freely – without cries of “racism”, “Islamophobia”, “xenophobia” and so on.

  • Paul Marks

    Negotiations on migration have not worked over many years now – negotiations are unlikely to work. So those people who attacking Mr Johnson for “spoiling the chances of negotiations” (as some “Remoaner” diplomat was doing on GB News, yes even GB News, last night) are mistaken.

    The United Kingdom needs to defend its own borders – not trust others to defend British borders. It should be made very clear that people who enter the United Kingdom illegally will NOT be allowed to stay – and the United Kingdom must withdraw from the Human Rights Conventions (which have proved totally ineffective in defending the rights of British people during Covid) and strip judges of any power to intervene in this matter.

    To those who cry “Free Migration” – “the gates of the town should be open to friends, but closed to foes”. Those who come illegally are very unlikely to be friends – they (contrary to the “mainstream media” and the “NGOs”) are very likely indeed to be foes.

    But, again, we can not even discuss this freely in countries such as the United Kingdom (unlike Hungary or Poland) – without cries of “racism”, “Islamophobia”, “xenophobia” and so on.

    Given this political and cultural situation, it may already be too late to save the United Kingdom.

    The people who decided that Freedom of Speech was “repressive tolerance” which harmed “oppressed groups” and should be punished as going against the “Diversity and Inclusion” agenda, were not friends of the “capitalist” West – they were Frankfurt School Marxists such as Herbert Marcuse.

    It is very disturbing that ideas (such as declaring Freedom of Speech “Repressive Tolerance” and seeking to PUNISH it) that were “fridge” in the 1960s (although I do not forget certain features of the 1965 Act in the United Kingdom – they were NOT yet Marxist features) are now the cultural mainstream in many Western countries – and indeed part of the LAW.

    Anyone familiar with Frankfurt School Marxist ideas can see their influence (influence – the legislation is NOT just a copying out of Frankfurt School doctrines) on such things as the Equalities Act of 2010 (and other legislation), indeed the Home Office had Marxist advisers as far back as the 1970s. It is influence, not total control – but even influence is disturbing. Already such concepts as assimilation are undermined – far from encouraging migrants to integrate and become culturally British, British history and culture (like American history and culture) is under savage attack – by the very institutions (such as schools, universities, museums, charities engaged in “heritage” and-so-on) that are supposed to defend it.

    Why assimilate, why integrate, if British history and culture is evil? And, make no mistake, British institutions (public and private) now teach that it is evil. With Big Business pushing books that are full of lies and distortions – and indeed are DESIGNED to promote racial hatred, yes racial hatred (under the guise of promoting “Diversity and Inclusion” they promote RACIAL HATRED against “white” pinkish-grey people).

    The situation is still different in Hungary and Poland – but these countries are under terrible pressure and may well fall.

  • Penseivat

    I wonder if, as some have suggested, the French authorities are deliberately moving these economic migrants on from whichever makeshift camp they are found in, and removing clothing, sleeping bags, and tents as they do, to make their living conditions so deplorable and sub human, to increase their incentive to risk their lives crossing the channel, and therefore ceasing to be a French problem?
    I would love to hear a journalist asking this question of Mr Micron.

  • Nemesis

    I am against mass immigration, but just to play devil’s advocate; Didnt we play a part in destabilizing a lot of the countries from whence they came?

  • Flubber

    For some yes, others not.

    I don’t however see open borders as in any way a suitable punishment.

    Now hanging a few politicians I could go for.

  • James Strong

    Paul Marks writes at November 27th 9.59 am

    ‘as some ‘Remoaner’ diplomat was doing on GB News, yes even GB News, last night’

    One of the reasons GB News is so good is that it does give time to people on the other side of the debate.
    There is no virtue in shutting those people out, and there is no need to.

    Another reason is that the interviews tend to be longer and with fewer interruptions than on other channels.

    Yet another reason is that they’ve got some superb presenters. For me Neil Oliver and Nigel Farage stand out. And many people praise Colin Brazier.

  • XC


    That may read differently in American.


  • Paul Marks

    James Strong – the man was not challenged, the interviewer essentially agreed with him. There was no “debate” – just negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

    Nemesis – no, actually we did NOT.

    The monarchy was overthrown in Afghanistan by Soviet influence at the start of the 1970s – and the place has been a mess since then (a mess with a rapidly growing population).

    The same is true of Iraq – there Constitutional Government was overthrown in 1958, replaced by a series of socialist dictatorships – and that was NOT the fault of the West either.

    If anything, Iraq has a less bad government now than it has done for a very long time.

    I do NOT support “nation building” in the Islamic world – but things have turned out in Iraq about as least-bad as could be expected. The government there represents the majority of the population, the Shia, but is not pro Islamic Republic of Iran. That is a less-bad situation than people like me expected.

    “But people from the Middle East and from Africa are coming to the West” – these places have an exploding population so people from them are spreading out, seeking new lands. A perfectly understandable thing to do – in their place I might well be doing exactly what they are doing.

    The existing population of the West could defend their land – but they are undermined by the chants of “racist!”, “Islamophobe!”, “Xenophobe!” and so on.

  • bobby b

    “That may read differently in American.”

    We are indeed “two nations separated by a common language.”

  • “That may read differently in American.”

    Just FYI, I did see that when I wrote it. You can blame the lengths to which Niall-wordplay-at-any-price-Kilmartin will go to get a post noticed. Or you can blame my inability to think of an equally terse way of putting it that avoided the pun. Either way, mea culpa. 🙂

    (Of course, I could always blame bobby b and XC for being so low-minded as to notice it – a trick I learn from the woke, who are always being shocked, shocked I tell you, that we are so low-minded as to notice things.)

  • bobby b

    Of course. Notice a Biden gaffe? “Conservatives pounce . . . ”