Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Cities of Sanctuary

It's a knee jerk reaction. A new initiative is linked to a perceived enemy; therefore it must be bad.

I think that's the mistake Bristol's Tory group is making with its assault on the 'City of Sanctuary' initiative. Among its many supporters they've spotted groups that benefit from funding from their No.1 Empire of Evil, the Legacy Commission. Therefore the whole thing must be a devious plan to extract more taxpayers money for politically correct projects and career enhancements.

Fronting this particular attack is Jay Jethwa (to her credit, not deterred by the ill-judged and racist 'coconut' jibe she got last time round). You can sense Tory leader Richard Eddy's instincts for a populist headline behind her, though.

Before jumping to their sinister conclusion about the whole 'city of sanctuary' movement, shouldn't the more level-headed Conservatives have urged caution? Wouldn't a more rational approach suggest that such organisations are bound to want Bristol to join the movement? It would be a betrayal of their objectives if they didn't.

So far as I can see, 'City of Sanctuary' is more like the Fair Trade Towns initiative, with recognition depending on a commitment to its principles by community groups, business, and (crucially) by local government. The promotional video, made by Sheffield, England's first sanctuary city, gives a bit more idea what it's all about.

I don't know just what resolution the council would choose to pass in support of Bristol becoming a city of sanctuary, but a quick web search reveals those passed by Bradford last March, and Swansea in December 2008. They're hardly the kind of stuff that would raise Tory blood pressure, indeed the Tories of those towns seem to have been enthusiastic.

A great pity if Richard Eddy's greed for a cheap headline means Bristol doesn't show the same unanimity.


Ben S said...

I made the mistake of reading the comments sections beneath the EP article...

Funny that in amongst the casual racism and mis-directed anger, no-one there responds or replies to the comment from Refugee Action explaining what CoS actually means.

Much easier for them all to wind each other into a BNP-voting frenzy. Makes me dispair, i can tell you...

The Bristol Blogger said...

Speaking as someone who's happy to host and pay tax towards asylum seekers, I can't find any enthusiasm for this idea.

You only need to read the comments coming out to realise that the approach is flawed. It is not taking the majority of people with it. Where's the consent?

The underlying analysis of the objectors that we are creating an 'asylum industry' to go with 'the homeless industry' and 'the race industry' is an interesting one and deserves more attention than labelling anyone who says it a racist.

The cracks in official multiculturalism have been beginning to show for some time, this is another example.

Ploughing on regardless with good intentions will not create a kinder atmosphere, it will create more divisions.

Pete Goodwin said...

Any organisation or movement is going to attract some self-seeking behaviour - I've certainly seen it in the 'poverty industry'. I just don't see a shred of evidence for it here. What's the problem with the 'Fair Trade Town' approach to raise awareness of a worthwhile objective?

This is just Eddy following his instincts, targetting a minority with an ill-informed press release, same as he did with lottery grant to help tackle homophobic bullying .

The Bristol Blogger said...

While Bunter is certainly exploiting the issue, he's hardly created the objections via press release.

A brief read of the Post comments suggests he's latching on to a widespread disaffection rather than inventing it.

That disaffection won't be tackled by 'City of Sanctuary'. It will fuel it, which is surely the opposite to what people wish to achieve?