In the past week we have seen two stories hit the national press, and both had three things in common: The colour red, asylum seekers and singling people out.
The first was the unsavoury story of a housing provider in Middlesbrough contracted to G4S to provide accommodation to asylum seekers painting their front doors red. This meant that these unfortunate people who have fled terror and war in their own countries were being singled out in this country by thugs and bullies.
The second was the equally unsavoury tale of a provider of short stay accommodation to asylum seekers in Cardiff forcing them to wear red wrist bands to identify them as service users when they went to a nearby canteen to claim food. This too meant that these unfortunate people who have fled terror and war in their own countries were being singled out in this country by thugs and bullies.
The difference between the two situations is that it took four years to get the situation in Middlesbrough changed, whereas the situation in Cardiff was resolved almost as soon as it was pointed out. I am prepared to accept that the situation in Wales arose out of a lack of awareness as to what the outcome of this policy might be for the clients.
The situation in Middlesbrough however arose with a company that has form on the mistreatment of people. I have commented previously on the antics of G4S, their mistreatment of jobseekers on the Olympics contract, their mistreatment of young offenders that is resulting in a major inquiry and their mistreatment of prisoners in our jails.
In both cases though there should be a lesson from history, marking people out as different can result in severe mistreatment, misunderstanding, and isolation that should be unacceptable in a civilised society, and we must all be vigilant for such situations
It would be wrong to assume that every case is malicious, but we must not as a society be afraid of speaking out when we see potential for injustice, and getting the potential removed.