The White Cliffs can’t escape politics

An article introducing this blog reflected on the symbolic importance of the White Cliffs: “as a landmark that the British identify as a symbol of their country, the White Cliffs invite British introspection and raise questions about what Britain stands for“.

Since then that importance has been confirmed, with Global Justice Now (GJN) having projected the words: ‘#REFUGEES WELCOME’ onto the White Cliffs of Dover. Director of GJN Nick Dearden explained that the projection “presents an alternative vision of the UK, one built on compassion, solidarity and recognition of common humanity”. It was intended as a pre-emptive response to anti-immigration protests that were to take place in Dover the next day (April 2nd), when protestors would “fan the flames of hatred and xenophobia”.

However well-intentioned GJN’s projection, it may have been inappropriate given that British attitudes to accepting refugees are very conflicted. In January 2016 a poll conducted for BBC local radio found that 50% of Britons did not want Britain to accept more refugees from Syria and Libya, while 61% thought that accepting such refugees would place Britain’s security at risk.

Perhaps Global Justice Now could aim to convince more than half of the British public of its position before speaking on their behalf.