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How to make room for refugees


It’s amazing what excuses we’ll come up with to avoid helping refugees.

For example, it has been argued that we in Britain haven’t the money to help. But last year our unelected House of Lords spent $385,000 of taxpayers’ money on champagne. That’s the equivalent of five bottles per Lord! I know it’s only a fraction of what’s needed, but my goodness, it’s a start. Let’s scrap the champagne bill and spend it feeding those who need it. And while we’re reforming, let’s turn Parliament’s wine cellar into housing for refugees.

(I warn you, this will involve some hard and serious work – specifically, making room in the wine cellar by drinking all the champagne. But I honestly believe that together, we can find the courage and tenacity to see this merry mission through to its end.)

Another excuse: one helpful Internet Man™ informed me that they can’t be genuine refugees if they can afford smartphones. Um, mate… you know they’re on the run? They’re not at home. A landline’s not much use to them. And also, there’s no international law that if your country is invaded by ISIS, you have to swap your 21st-century phone for a Nokia 3210.

But my favourite excuse of the lot has to be this: ‘Britain is full! There’s no room left! It’s packed. Packed!! Look down at the floor. Can you see it? No, it’s just a sea of feet! That’s how full we are. It takes me five hours just to get in the shower every day, having to fight past everyone. I ordered a pizza the other day. Two years, it took. I mean, I got it free because it took more than 30 minutes, but still, it wasn’t nice. We’re full!!’

Isn’t it odd how people who claim their country is full never have a problem with people having babies? If there’s no room for foreigners, surely there’s also no room for children? I mean, I know that babies are smaller than foreigners to begin with, but they grow bigger.

Second, Britain is not even slightly full by any measure you choose. For example, it has 700,000 empty homes. And that’s not to mention all the empty shops, the empty offices, plus the vast empty chasm of nothingness inside Prime Minister David Cameron’s heart.

Britain is the very opposite of full. If anything, we have too much space. In Surrey, there’s more land given over to golf courses than to houses. Building houses on those golf courses would achieve three good things. It would give refugees a chance at a decent life. It would annoy people who like golf. And, most importantly of all, it would create the beginnings of the most epic Crazy Golf course in the world. Add an actual windmill and a couple of Stonehenges, and it’s done.

We have so much space in our country, and chances are that you do too, wherever you are. Having said that, I do have one idea: let’s deport anyone who claims their country is full. You’re awful and you’re of no value to us. Britain IS full – of racists. Let’s have ourselves a little spring clean.

Chris Coltrane is a stand-up comedian and anti-austerity activist.
Follow him on Twitter: @chris_coltrane
His show ‘Activism Is Fun’ is a free download at chriscoltrane.com

New Internationalist issue 487 magazine cover This article is from the November 2015 issue of New Internationalist.
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