We should no longer be surprised when this government’s treatment
of asylum seekers takes yet another turn for the worse. But we must
still be alarmed. For social care professionals can become hardened
to the systematic degradation of those who need help. It is then
that their demonisation and the desensitisation of the rest of us
will have succeeded.
The relationship between media-driven panics and the direction of
policy is always an intimate one, particularly where social policy
is concerned. On asylum, that intimacy has fostered a dangerous
symbiosis where each side feeds off the other, increasing both
public hostility and injustice.
It is time to break the cycle. But the government will never do so
while hatred of asylum seekers still screams from tabloid
headlines. And the hatred will not stop while it is legitimised by
policies calculated to deter immigrants with the threat of
suffering and destitution.
Only mass protest can have any effect. And social care
professionals should be in the forefront.