We all feel impact of the refugee crisis
The refugee crisis is being played out on our television screens daily.
Harrowing scenes of desperate men, women and children in Budapest, Calais, Greece and many places around the Middle East, seem a long way from Rutherglen and Cambuslang – but they impact on us all.
In Britain, we have long prided ourselves on being a free and democratic people, tolerant and with a tradition of giving sanctuary to refugees – people fleeing from horrible regimes, or persecuted on account of their religion or political views.
From the French Huguenots in the 16th century to the East African Asians or the Vietnamese Boat people in the 20th century, we have honoured the right of asylum and sanctuary for people in desperate situations.
But the massive scale of people fleeing from civil war, dysfunctional governments or the threat of butchery is now greater than since the Second World War.
In countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan, normal family life and a safe existence has become impossible.
The situation facing many refugees is desperate.
They know the risks they face in making the journey to Europe. Thousands have died in the process. But still they come.
I have seldom seen such a transformation of public opinion as that which followed the pictures of the young child dead on a Mediterranean beach as he and his family tried to escape horrors at home.
I have talked to many people in our area who are clear that more – much more – needs to be done.
And that public mood has led to a change in Government attitudes which is welcome if still inadequate.
Some people say we cannot afford to take more refugees.
There are of course challenges but I believe that we cannot just stand idly by.
It is time for government in London and Edinburgh, for local Councils and local communities to put aside political differences and find a way, along with our European partners, to bring succour to so many families in trouble.
I am very glad that Liberal Democrats were able to secure that the UK government meets – and is legally obliged to meet - its UN target of 0.7 per cent of GDP for overseas aid.
That also helps many people in desperate need.
But a Europe-wide plan to alleviate and resolve the refugee crisis is now desperately needed.
The time for action is now!
Crisis Public opinion has changed dramatically