If you owned this sumptuous, near-£1 million property, pictured above, in “sexy” Shirley (copyright Will Self, 2015), would you open your doors to house Syrian refugees?
Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Lambeth South/Croydon North (delete to taste), has been reported as saying that he would.
The Croydon Guardian ran the eye-catching headline of: “I’d open my home to refugees” this week, suggesting that the Progress MP would do just that. Oddly, no where in the accompanying article does Reed actually say such a thing.
Of course, if that headline is misleading, it would be reasonable to expect Reed or someone on his parliamentary staff to have promptly contacted the newspaper to correct its website report with some urgency. So that the report remains, apparently unaltered, after two days suggests that Reed is entirely comfortable with its message.
Of course, the headline shows Reed in a very positive, humanitarian light, especially when compared to Croydon’s Tory MPs, who were both interviewed before David Cameron cobbled together their party’s response to the public outcry following the broadcast of the heart-rending images of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach.If Reed does take-in a family of refugees, he’d be one of just 10 per cent of the British population prepared – or able – to do so, according to a survey.
Reed told the local paper: “We have a long and proud record of helping people fleeing war and conflict, and it’s shameful that our Prime Minister refuses to reach out to them.”
Britain has allowed 216 Syrian refugees into the country since March 2014 under a “vulnerable” people scheme; the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said her country will welcome 800,000.
“We are big enough to offer more sanctuary to people in Britain,” said Reed.
Certainly, Reed’s home in Shirley Church Road appears plenty big enough to offer sanctuary to a refugee family.
Reed has never lived in his parliamentary constituency, preferring to invest in the property in the Shirley Hills with its four bedrooms, two bathrooms and three receptions. Plenty of space, therefore, to provide temporary accommodation for a family of refugees. Maybe more.
Reed and his partner bought the house, now estimated as being worth around £860,000, in early 2014. Reed, the former leader of Lambeth Council, was elected to parliament in November 2012.
Compare Reed’s generous and hospitable offer to the somewhat mealy-mouthed attitude of self-made millionaire Chris Philp, the newly elected Croydon South MP.
“We already welcome a very, very large number of people into this country,” said Philp, clearly not wishing to piss-off any Tory voters who have been considering joining UKIP.
Indeed, right-winger Philp advocates regime change and more military intervention (because behaving in an Imperialist manner has worked so well): “I think also we should be making an effort to ensure Assad is toppled so that the war in Syria comes to an end,” the Tory new boy said.
There will be no welcome for refugees at Philp’s newly purchased house in Coulsdon, even though it has yet to be established whether Philp has actually made his Croydon property his home. “There are lots of refugee camps in Jordan, next door to Syria, and we should put a lot of money into making sure those are running properly,” Philp said, clearly uneasy with any refugees coming to Britain.
That compares poorly to the compassion evident in Reed’s stance over the refugee crisis. Indeed, on the hot topic of refugees, Reed has demonstrated a far more welcoming attitude than he has himself recently over, for instance, new supporters to the Labour Party.
So Inside Croydon is looking forward to congratulating the MP on his generous gesture when he takes in to his home the first refugee family, demonstrating that his position is not just a ready soundbyte for the local press, but a real act of humanitarianism.
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