Following a conference on Wednesday, Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said that France needs their own Margaret Thatcher in order to take on the trade unions. He accused the French #Government of allowing unions to use industrial action as the first option, blaming them for the problems currently being faced in Calais. While speaking to The Times he said simply, "What you need in France is Mrs Thatcher to sort this problem out."
In normal times, strikes taking place in Calais would cause little more than a slight disturbance to holidaymakers, but due to to the large number of refugees currently in Calais the strike has had a much larger impact. Scenes of chaos around the Port of Calais were captured by news reporters as people took the strike as an opportunity to attempt to flee from the swelling refugee camp.
Currently 3,000 displaced people are predicted to be inside the makeshift camps. These people have escaped from war-torn countries like Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan. Most of the people currently living in the makeshift camps only eat once a day, with no shower facilities, only a few water pumps and 3 toilets. What these people must be going through is almost unimaginable - especially when some of them have children.
A woman called Salam spoke to the Socialist Worker in September 2014. Salam had fled from Eritrea facing certain death as her husband had fought with the rebel forces against the dictatorial government, "It's hard being here with a child. We don't get enough to eat, and when he's sick there are no doctors. We get no help from the authorities. But we have no choice."
Others give a shocking insight into daily life in a refugee camp in Calais, Osman, from Sudan, spoke to the BBC in January, "Life in Calais? It's close to animal life. From early morning you're just thinking about food and then, to sleep again." Osman end up in Calais after he had been arrested and tortured for organising political opposition meetings, after a neighbour informed the secret police.
With thousands of refugees stuck in makeshift camps, reports of hostility from locals and a reported 3,000 additional people expected to enter Calais by the end of the year - you would imagine the pressing issue would not be tough action on workers' rights, but working out what to do with the refugees. At present you have people who have survived a perilous journey into France, stuck in camps with little water, little food, no sanitation and little hope for the future. What good does keeping people in these refugee camps do?
Of course, it is difficult to work out what a fair way to move the refugees on would be, but just because something is difficult does not mean it shouldn't be done. Announcements from the EU that refugees will be relocated is a great start, but many countries have already opted out of the voluntary scheme. Pleas from people in Britain that the country is "full" have appeared in force in support of the British government's decision to opt out of the scheme, despite a huge number of empty homes and vast undeveloped land across the country.
A Margaret Thatcher like figure would certainly not be top of my list as something a European country needs. European countries need unity but are at odds with each other - would a divisive figure like Margaret Thatcher really be much use in terms of fixing the growing humanitarian crisis?
Right now what's needed in Europe is diplomacy, not division.