The Christmas and the New Year period is traditionally a time for goodwill to all, and for enjoying the company of friends and family. But it’s also a time for reflection, particularly about those who are less fortunate than us. 

I was struck by the fact that of all the boroughs in Surrey, it is Waverley (which includes Farnham and Haslemere) that has taken in the most Ukrainian refugees. 

It is proof, if it were ever needed, of the warmth, humanity, and common decency of the people of this part of the world. There is room at the Inn here. 

There is a stark contrast between this generous, welcoming spirit and the raft of increasingly desperate pre-election policies recently pumped out by the current government. 

The most shameless has to be the threat to deport refugees to Rwanda. 

The boats are still arriving on our shores in spite of our hapless Prime Minister’s promise to halt them. More importantly the number of those fleeing persecution left waiting for a decision on their immigration status continues to run at record levels, at over 170,000 people. That’s more than eight times higher than it was when Labour left office. 

And, as Labour’s Yvette Cooper pointed out in Parliament,  annual deportations are running at less than half the number they were when the Tories came into Government in 2010. It is blatantly obvious that chaos reigns at the Home Office as even the basics are not being done properly. And this chaos risks undermining the rule of law in this country.

It’s not just ludicrous attempting to push through a law saying a country is safe, when it clearly is not; it endangers our very democracy. 

Similarly, giving  Rwandan government officials close to £400 million – for absolutely nothing – when our public services are crying out for investment really is the economics of the mad house. 

This country has sent three Home Secretaries to Rwanda but not a single asylum seeker.

It also means misery for thousands who – like the Ukrainians – are wanting to escape war, violence, persecution and famine. 

They won’t be living in comfortable Farnham homes this Christmas, but in barges, army barracks and overcrowded hotel rooms. And to add insult to injury they are expected to live on just £39.63 a week and are prevented from working regardless of how long it takes for their application to be processed. 

I believe that this shames our nation, and that the people of Farnham and Bordon are bigger hearted and better than this.

I hope they will join with me in opposing this utterly inhumane policy, and remembering who is responsible for it when they approach the ballot box next year.

Finally, I would like to wish your readers a very Happy Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Dave Shurlock

Secretary, Farnham and Bordon Labour