Posted by BE on September 7th, 2015
However many additional Syrian refugees the Government agrees to welcome to these shores, it will do the Prime Minister no credit. This will have been a victory for public opinion and the media – for the letter-writers to the newspapers, the talk-back callers on radio, the politics reporters, leader-writers, columnists and cartoonists who took a stand on an issue of principle that demanded something more than dispassionate reporting.
It would be nice to think that this tide of sympathy for the plight of the Syrian refugees was what persuaded John Key to change his mind and approve a special intake of these dispossessed men, women and children. But that scenario strains credibility. Why did the Prime Minister have to be persuaded at all? Had he not seen the heart- rending television coverage of a desperate people in flight for their lives? Why prevaricate and why then change your mind?
Well, the simple answer is that Key realised he was losing electoral support, that the country was not behind him and that the political fallout from maintaining his position on the Syrian refugees could prove terminal.
Well, better late than never. But however many additional Syrian refugees the Government finally agrees to accept, the indisputable fact will remain that it was political expediency and not human sympathy that motivated the Prime Minister’s change of heart. And that does him no credit.