General Election 2015: If Cameron is responsible for the Med crisis, then so is Miliband

Do you remember that whole fracas in Syria? It doesn't seem like Miliband does

Nash Riggins
Friday 24 April 2015 16:10 BST
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Labour and the Conservatives may be separated by just a small percentage of the vote
Labour and the Conservatives may be separated by just a small percentage of the vote (AP)

If you’ve ever learned a single thing watching British politics, it should be this: never underestimate a party’s resolve to politicise the deaths of thousands of people.

Today, Labour leader Ed Miliband has proven he’s a master of the art after making a clumsy speech insinuating David Cameron is directly responsible for the 1,200 refugees that have drowned in the Mediterranean over the last ten days.

I know what you’re thinking: "surely these deaths are the fault of unscrupulous people smugglers and their rickety boats. How is David Cameron to blame?" Well, apparently it’s all very straight-forward.

Okay, so Ed may have stopped short of claiming David Cameron drowned all those refugees with his own two hands – but he does claim the crux of this entire catastrophe can be traced directly back to the UK's military sortie into Libya back in 2011. After helping freedom fighters put the flamboyant Muammar Gaddafi firmly in his place, Miliband claims the coalition failed to establish order in the war-torn country. Consequently, anarchy was allowed to reign supreme, chasing scores of refugees out of Libya and onto European shores.

“Nobody can disagree with the idea that the failure of post-conflict planning has been responsible for some of the situation we see in Libya and indeed people then fleeing,” he claimed.

To be fair, the Labour leader may be right in the sense that none of the Western nations that bombed Libya into oblivion did a whole lot to clean up their mess. But this claim that the Conservatives are somehow at fault is frustratingly naïve. Why? Because Libya is not the only war-torn place refugees are coming from – and so if Ed Miliband wants to play this rash blame game, he’s equally at fault.

Do you remember that whole fracas in Syria? As of last month, 3.9m people have abandoned the country to escape the stalemate between dictator Bashar al-Assad, a gaggle of rebel cells and the Islamic State. Yet a lot of people seem to have already forgotten the UK government came within inches of marching into Syria and ending the conflict almost two years ago.

There was only one problem: Ed Miliband wasn’t so keen, and so he convinced Parliament to vote against getting involved (probably making Vladimir Putin’s day).

Well, according to Amnesty International, Syrians and Eritreans represented almost half of the 170,000 downtrodden souls that landed on Italy’s shores in 2014. So, seizing upon Ed Miliband’s own logic, could we not say the Labour leader is directly responsible for each and every Syrian refugee boat that sinks in the Mediterranean? We could say that. But it wouldn’t be true.

A Syrian refugee family from Aleppo crosses the Bosphorus from Uskudar to the European side of Istanbul
A Syrian refugee family from Aleppo crosses the Bosphorus from Uskudar to the European side of Istanbul

It may come as a shock, but this refugee crisis is bigger than the Labour Party, David Cameron or any general election. People are dying, and if Ed Miliband honestly thinks he can steal a few votes by whinging that a Labour government could have somehow prevented those deaths, he’s only demonstrating an infantile sense of how the world works.

The truth is, this interminable wave of subjugated refugees was created by a wide array of catastrophic variables. Some involved David Cameron, some involved the UK, and others didn’t.

Either way, our wannabe politicians need to drop this petty blame game and get proactive. After all, if Ed Miliband really wants to win this election, he’s got to prove he can do more than point fingers – he needs to show he can actually solve problems.

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