August 19, 2021 - 3:14pm

The West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the country’s subsequent fall to the Taliban, has brought the number of refugees the UK should take back to the forefront of the political conversation. It is eerily familiar: many of the same ideas were being advanced by many of the same people in 2015 at the height of the Syria crisis.

Earlier this year, Ayaan Hirsi Ali did an interview with UnHerd in which she predicted exactly this, and warned about not making the same mistakes again:

When we are confronted with a crisis, like the one in Syria, or the next conflict, we are going to have a camera moment of virtue signalling about compassion, and then creating even more problems for the immigrants and for the natives. That’s just going to lead to a great deal of hostility for immigrants, political volatility, problems with social cohesion, and problems for women. What we really need is to have a rational conversation about immigration and Islamic integration, that whole deal, but we just keep pushing this issue farther and farther down the line.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, UnHerd

Her view was that, in retrospect, the more moderate approach of David Cameron should be seen as morally superior and better leadership than the policies of Angela Merkel and countries like Sweden, which took in much higher numbers of refugees:

Cameron was the most responsive of the European leaders at the time. What he was trying to say is we have to be compassionate and open and help others out. But at the same time, he was also responsive in doing what he was elected to do, which is be the leader of the British people. In trying to balance all of these things, if we had built on where he had started then we could have avoided that 2015 issue.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, UnHerd

Will the media, opposition and Government remember the lessons of 2015 in the forthcoming Afghanistan refugee crisis?