A Smorgasbord of Stupidity at Comment is Free

Last Sunday, three failed asylum applicants jumped from a 15th storey window in the grim Red Road flats at Springburn: Serge Serykh, and two individuals identified as his wife and stepson.

What initially was seen as a damning indictment of asylum policy quickly became black farce when it emerged that the family were seeking asylum from Canada, of all places:


Mr Serykh had been given refugee status in Canada in 2000 and, in a plot that resembles an airport thriller, had offered his skills as an alleged former member of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to the Canadian Government, saying he had evidence of a foreign spy network across the country.

In November 2007 Canada rejected his application for citizenship and he immediately accused the authorities there of having used mind-altering psychotronic techniques against him.

He left Canada in late 2007 and went to several European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, seeking asylum without success.

Shortly afterwards, he turned up in the UK and, having applied for asylum, he and his family at first stayed in Brent, North London before moving to Glasgow in autumn 2009. His case for asylum in the UK was based on his belief that because of an alleged deal between Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, and former President Putin of Russia, he would be killed by Canadian security agents if he was returned there. He still had a Canadian passport.

Those who had dealings with the Serykh family and have spoken to The Times say he was 90 per cent lucid and 10 per cent “off the wall”.


Although I am not a psychiatrist, I do suspect Serykh was mentally ill: possibly schizophrenic, and appears to have drawn his wife and stepson into his delusions.

There are valid questions to ask about asylum policy, but it should be noted that no remove-order had been issued by Borders Agency. Perhaps unusually for the Guardian’s Comment is Free, a massive generalization is made by Deborah Orr who asks “Who is Responsible for the Glasgow Suicides?” (not her, obviously).

She opens with circumspection, by admitting that “few details are known, and even those few are very much open to dispute”, but the tagline of “what happened at the Red Road tower blocks highlights the horror of being an immigrant in Britain” suggests she is not letting this lack of hard information to get in her way of a denunciatory conclusion.

Nor is she swayed by her admission that the family was in no danger of imminent danger of removal and that state concern was sufficient that anti-suicide nets were installed around the high-rises (which were breached by Serykh’s dropping a wardrobe).

Housing projects such as the Red Road estate came during the demolishment of the 19th Century tenements in the 195/60s, and decanting of the population: some of which was good, some of which was bad. I grew up in-and-around the Alexandria in the Vale of Leven, which had not had an entirely good experience with the Glasgow overspill.

But, despite the ghastliness of Renton or Haldane (*never* pronounced as in the Scandinavian nationality) or New Bonhill, nothing there compared to Red Road: a real armpit of a place, inspired in the 1960s by Soviet-style architecture without the infrastructure and accessibility to economic areas of the nearby city. A significant problem with building new social housing in the Glasgow area is the industrial pollution of vacant land, as well as the asbestos in the Red Road flats making their demolishment a potent danger.

Decades of mismanagement in West Coast politics has entrenched the tribal-supporters of Scottish Labour, revealed during the Luciferian Fall of Glasgow City Council leader, Labour-man Steven Purcell.

Over recent years, the unique social problems of such areas has been accentuated by local authorities being keen to accept central funding for housing asylum applicants (in Edinburgh, the joke is that any Zimbabwean one meets will be housed in Granton), and no-one I know would volunteer for living in the Red Road flats.

The Serykh family were housed on the 15th floor, which would certainly have added to the husband’s sense of dislocation and susceptibility to his paranoid delusions.

Yet, as stomach-churning as the incident is, Serykh had already been granted residency in Canada, one of the most stable and sought-after countries in the world, and it was his wholly irrational illness which led him to leave thence be rejected by no-less-than three EU countries, before finally arriving in the UK.

Whatever the flaws in the asylum policy are, a preoccupation with procedure allowed him to remain in the country whilst his patently absurd claim was ‘investigated’.

As callous as it sounds, the first priority of any state is to support and care for her domestic inhabitants, rather than set herself up as the world’s social worker. Orr, on her handsome Guardian salary and command of written English which may not be available to many native speakers, is somewhat shielded from the coal-face of 21st Century urban life.

I am loathe to allude to Margaret Thatcher, but liberals and self-styled internationalists are very good at spending other people’s money. In the Calvinist Republic of Scotland, we even have a First Minister who is that wedded to the notion of unrestrained immigration that he lobbies for rejected claimants without checking to see if they are drugs-producers (marijuana, not cocaine, or Steven Purcell would have been more likely to assist).

As per usual with Comment is Free, a smorgasbord of stupidity and preening self-righteousness has been accompanied by a fascinating and well-argued comments thread.


One Response to “A Smorgasbord of Stupidity at Comment is Free”

  1. Building Beijing « A Rabbit's Eye View of the Hyperborean North Says:

    […] as communal toilets could be compared to the pre-1960s tenements of inner-city Glasgow, but the Soviet-style replacements have not necessarily brought civic pride to the area. Gulou appears to be a functioning community […]

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