Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today on socialism, Silvio Berlusconi and the defence "black hole".

1. I am a Socialist, says new Labour leader (Tony Blair, 1994)

To those alarmed by Ed Miliband's description of himself as a "socialist", Sunder Katwala points out that Tony Blair also used the term.

2. UK Statistics Authority: "Serious deficiencies" in DWP use of statistics

Left Foot Forward's Will Straw reports that Iain Duncan Smith has been rebuked for his misuse of welfare statistics.

3. Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Claude Carpentieri says that next month's vote of confidence could bring Berlusconi down for good.

4. Italian students occupy Leaning Tower of Pisa and Colosseum

While the British graffiti a police van, the Italians occupy world heritage sites, reports Political Scrapbook.

5. Has Cameron left a £15bn "black hole" in the defence budget?

Cameron has left the MoD a big unfunded liability, says the FT's Alex Barker.

Show Hide image

France to bulldoze Calais Jungle days after child refugees arrive in the UK

The camp houses thousands. 

Refugees and migrants in Calais began queuing up for buses this morning as the French authorities plan to demolish the "Jungle" camp.

But activists fear that, unless France significantly speeds up its asylum process, the displaced people will simply move to other camps along the northern French coast.

Meanwhile, the first children of Calais brought to the UK under the Dubs Amendment arrived at the weekend.

The camp known as the Jungle, in a wasteland by the port of Calais, is actually the latest manifestation in a series of camps established since 1999, when a French reception centre became too crowded.

However, it has swelled as a result of the refugee crisis, and attempts by residents to sneak onto lorries entering the Channel Tunnel have become daily occurences. The French authorities bulldozed part of it earlier this year.

Ahead of the latest demolishment, which is expected to happen on Tuesday, Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “In February this year over 50 per cent of the camp was demolished and yet six months later the camp is bigger than it has ever been before. 

"This is clear evidence that demolitions do not act as a deterrent.  The refugees come because they have no choice."

Future refugees will go to other camps with even less facilities, she warned.

The camp houses thousands of residents, but because of the authorities' unwillingness to legitimise it, there is no official presence. Instead, the residents must rely on volunteer aid services and have little means to stop intruders entering. 

Although conditions in the camp can be dire, residents have created a high street with basic tent shops and restaurants catering to the needs of its displaced population. Many of those in the camp say they are there because they hope to be reunited with family in Britain, or they have given up on ever being processed by the French authorities. 

After the UK government was pressurised into passing the Dubs Amendment, which provides sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees, some children from the camp have arrived in the UK. The first group is reportedly mostly girls from Eritrea, who will be processed at a UK immigration centre.

One of the MPs crucial to ensuring the Dubs Amendment delivered, Stella Creasy, said many more still needed help. 

Children reunited with their families under the Dublin Convention arrived in the UK last week, although their arrival was overshadowed by a debate over age checks.  

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.