In Response

Christopher Harries

This page published a piece by Matthew Paul commenting on the protests outside of Penally Training Camp. After reading the well-written article, it seemed apt to make some observations.

Mr Paul was right to state that the Home Office was underhand in how it went about the repurposing of the facility. How the Home Office went about the matter undoubtedly contributed to some of the opposition in the local area. 

Due to the brevity of implementation and absence of consultation, the residents of Penally and the county of Pembrokeshire have cause to feel blindsided. While the arrangement now implemented raises some legitimate concerns for the local community such as security given the camp is no detention centre. 

It is lamentable that agitators from outside of Pembrokeshire sought to exploit the situation, there is no place for intolerance and racism in our society. To sympathise with the genuine concerns of residents of Penally is not to excuse any lawbreaking or acts of intolerance that occurred in the course of the protests. Hopefully, Dyfed Powys police will look to hold those responsible for criminal acts to account for their behaviour.

In the article, Mr Paul a barrister mocked protestors understanding of the issue stating: 

“other protestors complained bitterly that it was the ‘illegal migrants’ who were the criminals, giving the cameras the benefit of their sophisticated understanding of asylum law and the minutiae of the Dublin III Regulation.”

Now it may be that protestors were ignorant of the legal realities of the matter and a barrister lack expertise of the subject. A matter set out in law does not make it beyond reproach. What Mr Paul may fail to appreciate is that to the public, the law may not fit with common sense. 

To many members of the public, it does not seem unreasonable for presumptive asylum seekers to present themselves to claim asylum at the first safe destination they reach. To them, the status of those continuing through continental Europe to try and cross the channel changes from being an asylum seeker to that of an economic migrant. 

Now, as Mr Paul stated, it may be onerous to claim asylum from the United Kingdom while resident in their own country due to factors like oppression. However, that does not prevent the individual from then approaching the British embassy in the first safe country they come to. 

You could argue that those who attempt to enter the United Kingdom illegally do so to circumvent our immigration system. For instance of those placed in Penally by the Home Office did they present themselves willingly as an asylum seeker or did they seek to claim asylum after being caught by officials from the Border Agency or the police?

How they come to make the asylum application does matter, those with legitimate grounds for applying would surely apply at the earliest opportunity instead of avoiding making the application until compelled to do so after being apprehended. This differentiation does contribute to the public perception of those applying for asylum. Would you consider those making the Channel crossing legitimate asylum seekers if they do not seek to make an official application?

Britain should remain a welcome home for those in peril as it has been for centuries having welcomed the Huguenots, Kindertransport to the Ugandan Asians. However, we should be concerned about illegal immigration masquerading under the guise of asylum seekers as it is unfair on those who seek to follow the correct process to come to the United Kingdom. 

To close, be under no doubt that some of the behaviour witnessed in Penally was unacceptable in some cases even possibly criminal. To reduce hostility the Home Office needs to be more open and engaged with local communities to ensure that they do not feel imposed upon and concerns disregarded.  

The Litmus Test

Christopher Harries

Reports in the media that Penally Training Camp could be used to house asylum seekers and the subsequent protest to the reports has led me to consider the decision making of politicians.

Now governance ultimately requires choices to be made and policies enacted. Those making the decision must reconcile benefit against the impact. On occasion, a decision made could be deemed beneficial for the nation but detrimental on a local level.

The location of accommodation for asylum seekers is one such example. The need for such a facility is weighed against the potential impact on the local populace. Decision making as part of governance will not please everyone, what seems reasonable to some will vex others.

One of the charges levelled against the political system is that politicians do not have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This perception has undoubtedly contributed to the febrile political environment that we have today as the late political operative Lee Atwater remarked ‘Perception is reality’.

The referendum on European Union membership became in essence a proxy. A proxy against the political class deemed to be disconnected from the concerns of the public. One facet of this disconnect was immigration, some of those voting to leave did so primarily on the basis of this disconnect. The perception from some was that politicians had no qualms with uncontrolled immigration as they did not have to live with the negative consequences such as pressures on housing, health care etc.

In the post expenses scandal Britain, politicians were seen as a social class of their own. This is not to seek to simplify the reason for why some voted to leave but it demonstrates what impact a perception of indifferent can have. Seen as apart from the people and indifferent to their concerns.

With contentious issues such as the location of accommodation for asylum seekers, you would hope that a litmus test would factor in the decision-making process. Namely, would the decision be made if those charged with making the decision were to be personally impacted?

If this litmus test was applied as part of the decision-making process then it could help address the perceived disconnect between the governed and those who govern.

Delegitimising Extinction Rebellion

Christopher Harries

Over the weekend, Janet Finch-Saunders MS in her capacity as Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs announced that she would not be meeting with the group Extinction Rebellion.

This decisive action, in response to the conduct of the organisation, should be applauded. Whatever the merits of the cause they advocate, Extinction Rebellion activists have managed to stray from acceptable political discourse into the fringes of extremism.

By deciding to not meet with the group, Finch-Saunders MS has demonstrated resolve. Meeting with individuals from a group whose co-founder advocated violence as a legitimate course of action would legitimise such an organisation and unpalatable behaviour. 

As the reality of Extinction Rebellion has become apparent, so politicians should seek to distance themselves from the organisation. That is not to say that politicians should ignore concerns about the environment, but to ensure that extremism is not legitimised simply because the group has some admirable goals namely concern over our environment.

Conservation is a principle at the heart of conservatism. We are but custodians of the earth, as part of the social contract between the present, the past and future generations we should aspire to preserve our environment. The decision taken by the Welsh Conservatives is not to abandon concern for the environment but to ensure that an extremist organisation does not receive legitimacy.  Let us hope that the Welsh Government will follow suit and deprive them of the veneer of legitimacy.

Extinction Rebellion’s Attack on The Press is a Disgrace

Tomos Llewelyn


As you may have heard, Knowsley Industrial Park was targeted by Extinction Rebellion protesters, leading to significant delays in the delivery of several national newspapers. At least 21 people were arrested, with original reports of 30 and 50 people being taken into custody by Merseyside Police and Hertfordshire Police, respectively. This action has quite rightly received many condemnations already, but that does not mean we should sit idly by.

To give them some kind of hearing, they claimed their action was due to the press’ failure to report on the ‘climate emergency’. They were protesting against the usual suspects; the Conservative Government, Rupert Murdoch and his empire, etc. But in all honesty the platform they seem to have earnt is completely undeserved and so their hearing ends here.

I have been reading the comments under the articles online regarding this news. Commenters from retired nurses to ex-military NCOs passionately detailing their case, that being that they merely wish to read their longstanding publication of choice be that the Mail, Sun or Telegraph, Times or Financial Times all of whom were targeted by the Extinction Rebellion’s invasion. This is quite ridiculous in a modern, democratic, civilised country. Liberals and all right minded people need to stand up and condemn this action and action like this. It is not simply peaceful protest, they are wrong to deny so many their choice of publication.

Don’t forget the affects of these actions have additional consequences; from the news printers not being able to clock in for work to the local newsagent who loses out financially.

The Press have rallied against Extinction Rebellion’s attempts to silence them and some such as the Telegraph have gone further, offering free access to their articles this weekend by lowering their paywall.

There has been some debate on the finer details, labelling the Extinction Rebellion protests as ones having been hijacked by fringe factions, socialist splinters, anarcho-agitators, Trotskyist bedwetters and so on.


There has been some debate on the finer details, labelling the Extinction Rebellion protests as ones having been hijacked by fringe factions, socialist splinters, anarcho-agitators, Trotskyist bedwetters and so on. Parasites, leeching the movement’s following for their own means which by the by, in most cases involves extreme authoritarianism and the kind of fascism that they in fact claim to be against, as we are seeing quite plainly in this case. But I digress, for this debate is in fact a distraction. The only take home message should be that the actions are wholly disgraceful, an attempt at democratic infringement and an affront to freedom. As has been said by the Prime Minister, the actions were ‘completely unacceptable’ as ‘a free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical for the future of our country’. Well put, withal.