Villagers near where I live in the UK are objecting to asylum seekers being accommodated in a local hotel. They even took it to the High Court in order to get it stopped, but lost. ‘If you’re so keen on foreign refugees, why don’t you put them up yourselves?’ as I heard one shouting.

Well, I’m doing just that. I applied a few months ago, and my chosen Ukrainians – four of them: father, mother and two teenaged daughters – now tell me that they’ve been given permission to live in the UK for three years. The house is ready for them, and Kajsa and I have both been through the police checks to make sure we’re not murderers, white slave traders or child rapists. (We passed them all.) Exactly when our new guests are coming we’re not sure yet, but we’ll be back in Hull to meet them and sort things out for them. I’ve already learned the Ukrainian for ‘Hello’ (привіт).

I’m surprised to find out how very many Brits are doing what we’re doing, and the range of both official and voluntary services there are, even in Hull, to help the Ukrainians, and also us, their ‘hosts’. Is it just because they’re victims of the hated Putin (as the ‘boat people’ generally aren’t)? Even so, it exemplifies a level of generosity towards persecuted foreigners that might surprise those North Ferriby protestors.

And it relates back to an old ‘patriotic’ tradition in Britain, about which I wrote in my The Refugee Question in Mid-Victorian Politics (1979-ish). Providing a safe haven for foreign refugees was one of Britain’s proudest traditions in the nineteenth century; cherished at least as much as her empire was. ‘Every civilized people on the face of the earth,’ thundered The Times in 1853, ‘must be fully aware that this country is the asylum of nations, and that it will defend that asylum to the last source of its treasure, and the last drop of its blood. There is no point whatever on which we are prouder and more resolute’. Of course things were different then…

Anyway, I’m looking forward to welcoming ‘my’ Ukrainians, and introducing them to fish patties and Rugby League.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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3 Responses to привіт

  1. That is an exceedingly good thing to do, Bernard. Tremendous generosity. Good on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Evans says:

    Bernard, All power to your pen and elbow – I am sure your new tenants will be just fine – leave them copies of your books to read! This might give rise to a little less of your doom and gloom – which I can duly share, but spend a lot of time pushing it all out of mind. Just remember, John le Carré was still publishing in his 80s+! Take heart – there are good things we can all achieve. John E



  3. mickc says:

    The “boat people” are generally victims of the American Empire and its satellites having interfered in the Middle East.

    In reality the Ukrainians are also victims of the American Empire’s interference in the Ukraine via the “colour revolution” which was actually a CIA coup in a country bordering Russia in furtherance of the Wolfowitz Doctrine.

    The American Empire would not have tolerated such interference. It was warned by Kennan, and others, that expanding NATO would not end well; it won’t.


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