“When Sherlock Holmes was first introduced to Dr Watson he said “I can see that you have recently returned from Afghanistan”.
This was some 150 years ago and the involvement of so many countries over so many decades for so many different reasons could be considered to be the defining issue with this country.
On a local basis it is very likely that Southport will be asked to help with those people from Afghanistan who have been a great assistance to our Diplomats and Armed Forces in particular and have now been evacuated will be accommodated for some period of time at the Pontins Holiday Camp in Ainsdale.
The Government have already acknowledged that they are discussing this matter currently with Britannia Hotels and we can only hope that the latter in particular will extend a much greater level of co-operation with Sefton Council than they have shown in the past.
I have no personal doubts that we are going to want as a community to do our very best to help people who were placed in a desperate situation but at the same time the Government must recognise that there are significant additional costs involved not just to the Council but to other Bodies – particularly the NHS – and we will all need extra funding as a matter of urgency.
This situation has been brought about by what appears to have been a secret agreement between President Trump and the Taliban and the decision by President Biden to press ahead has undoubtedly caused a huge amount of dismay and disruption with so many people fearing for their lives.
To fully understand how America views issues such as this we can all learn a great deal from the BBC’s North American Correspondent, Jon Sopel.
I had the pleasure of meeting him personally on a voyage on the Queen Mary II to New York a few years ago when he was a guest speaker.
On one of the days we were all looking out into the Atlantic for whales and dolphins and this in turn reminded me of my Mum telling me that when she came across from New York in 1944 in a convoy crew members were spaced out on the upper decks with binoculars but they were not looking for whales but for periscopes.
Jon Sopel has written a hugely informative book “If Only They Didn’t Speak English” and he goes through chapter by chapter the differences between the way we look at things in the UK and how they are perceived by the Americans.
There are some nine areas which includes systems of government, race, patriotism, and of course the most perplexing of all from our point of view, guns. Much of what Jon has to say in what is an informative, witty and succinct manner did not come as a surprise to me because I am half Canadian and have crossed the Atlantic at least once a year for the best part of 60 years and have also travelled extensively throughout the States but if you don’t understand how they feel about their values it is impossible for you to fully appreciate their approach to Afghanistan.
Jon Sopel has also written two books on the Trump presidency – ‘A Year at the Circus’ and ‘UnPresidented’ – and if you want to learn even more about the political situation in the States that influences so much of how we look at things here this trilogy of books represent essential reading.
The interchangeability between the Presidential Election in America and the situation that we face here in Southport might seem miles apart but believe me they are woven together in quite a unique manner.
I have every confidence people in our Town will respond to appeals for things such as clothing for those who have been evacuated from their war torn country and every effort will be made to use their talents within a UK context.