Orkney and Shetland MP and Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, has today put his full support behind the RNLI in its remit to help those in danger at sea after it was criticised by some media figures and politicians for rescuing migrants in boats in the English Channel. The RNLI has been forced to defend itself and its role to protect all in danger, regardless of nationality, after Nigel Farage labelled the charity a “taxi service” for asylum seekers and reports emerged that lifeboat crews were being heckled by members of the public.
The RNLI serves coastal communities around the country, helping a range of people including fishermen, travellers and swimmers in distress. Since the public attacks this week the charity has received over £200,000 in donations in support of its work.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Like everyone else in isles, I know and value the work that the RNLI does day in and day out, from supporting fishermen in dangerous seas to rescuing individuals in distress. As a former member of the RNLI National Council I know too well how dedicated their volunteers are. They are an essential part of our island communities and of communities all along the coast of our country. We owe them thanks for their selfless actions – not baseless name-calling.
“It is a pretty basic principle that no one should ever be criticised for saving lives, wherever they are and whoever they are saving. It is not a matter of public policy. To politicise the work of the RNLI, as some have sought to do, is downright dangerous. If we start expecting rescuers to do a passport check before they help those in need then that is a worrying sign of where we are as a country.
“Not for the first time, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have been happy to stoke grievance for political gain, only to wipe their hands of the negative consequences when good people are attacked. Whatever our political stances we should reject those who want to drag us down to their level of selfishness – and stand shoulder to shoulder with the RNLI.”