IF Britain’s response to the refugee crisis engulfing Europe has so far been woeful there are welcome signs that people throughout the UK will no longer stand by and do nothing as thousands die and hundreds of thousands risk their lives in a desperate battle to reach safety.

The gulf between the people and the Westminster Government could hardly have been more apparent yesterday, as spontaneous demonstrations of support took place all over the country while David Cameron was shamed into offering more help yet was not quite able to bring himself to say exactly what that would mean.

It is a tragedy that it took a deeply disturbing photograph of a dead child lying alone on a beach to provoke global horror.

Alan Kurdi was buried by his distraught father yesterday, alongside his brother and mother.

Nothing will lessen the pain of his father. It will be of little consolation to him that one photograph of his son has changed the world.

But change it that photograph did. Its power opened eyes to the reality behind the numbers and the cruel descriptions attached to those living in camps while trying to find sanctuary.

“Sanctuary”, a word used yesterday by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at a Scottish summit on her government’s response to the refugee crisis. Under the present constitutional arrangements, of course, we cannot do everything we want to do – but that does not mean we can do nothing.

The First Minister has said Scotland should accept at least 1,000 refugees – as a “starting point for discussion” – and there is little doubting the Scottish Government’s willingness to take more.

Heartwarming as that political reaction is, it has been matched by an outpouring support from ordinary people who have volunteered their services and even room in their homes, who have organised vigils and planned walks and other fundraising activities.

It is that expression of common humanity which stands in stark contrast to the reluctance of David Cameron to act in any meaningful way.

It is only that expression of common humanity which has forced him to change his mind.

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