Category Archives: immigration

That’s just not cricket

Another year, another immigrant being allowed to stay in the UK for the flimsiest of reasons. Last year we had the person allowed to stay because he went to the gym and before that the famous Bolivian-student-allowed-to-stay-because-they-owned-a-cat. Of course, the important thing about both of those cases is that those were not the reasons at all. The media – bless them – had just taken what they thought to be the most absurd reason for remaining (even, if in the case of the cat, whether it wasn’t even used as an argument) from each case and reported it as if that was the sole reason for the judge’s verdict.

Which brings us to today’s Mail Online headline: ‘Judge gives Bangladeshi student permission to stay in the UK… because he loves cricket’. Which actually means:

In what is being seen by lawyers as a test case, a trainee accountant from Bangladesh who came to Britain to study has been granted permission to remain in the country after successfully claiming that he had made friends and played cricket on Sundays.

While the Home Office turned down Abdullah Munawar’s initial bid to stay on in the UK after graduating, the courts overturned the decision on appeal and ruled that he could continue to enjoy a “private life” in this country under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

You can argue all you like about the ‘right to a private life’ enshrined under Article 8 of the ECHR, but let’s have those arguments like adults, rather than just screaming that X has been allowed to stay for one reason alone when they clearly have not. The right to a private life does kind of imply that every student on a 3-year VISA will be able to argue their case to a judge to be allowed to remain – after all, you would hope that most people would have established a private life over the course of living in the UK for 3 years. What this perhaps does is highlight how the UK currently expects to be paid handsomely by foreign students whilst they attend its universities, only to then remove them as soon as their education is over without question.

Again, newspapers are free to have this debate but it would be refreshing if for once they could just report the truth accurately and avoid dishonest headlines. The Daily Mail was recently bemoaning the apathy of young non-voters, yet at the same time this is the level of political debate that the newspaper engages in. There is clear scope for a proper debate over the right to a private life and what this ruling means for future cases. However, all people will be taking away from this article is the false impression that playing cricket is a surefire way that ‘they’ can stay in the country – just as if ‘they’ owned a cat.

Speaking of which, at least the Mail Online article didn’t dare mention the cat, unlike the Telegraph:

The case of the cricketing student now takes its place in the annals of unusual immigration decisions – alongside the “Bolivian cat man”, first exposed in these pages two years ago, who sparked a Cabinet rift at the 2011 Conservative conference.

Indeed, the cricketing student myth will now be regularly quoted alongside ‘Bolivian cat man’ by people unaware that they’ve just been lied to by their newspaper, again. Considering the absolute falsity of the ‘Bolivian cat man’ story it staggers me that the Telegraph – the article was written by David Barrett – has again proudly stood by it.

The new press regulator needs the statutory power to fine or flog any journalist who repeats a myth that has been publicly and convincingly shown to be false. Otherwise we just end up with millions of individual Wintervals damaging public understanding of how the world works.

Avoid deportation by joining a Gym – claims Daily Mail

According to the Daily Mail website today: ‘Failed asylum seeker who has dodged deportation for a decade told he can stay… because he goes to the GYM’.

What the judge actually said was:

‘He had integrated well within the Glasgow community, had a large network of friends, most of whom were Scottish, and socialised with those friends at the gymnasium, at five-a-side football, in coffee shops, at college, in the library and at their homes.’

The asylum seeker was appealing to Article 8 of the ECHR which allows a human being the right to remain in a country if they have established a private life. Going to the gym was one small part of this case, rather like owning a cat was one small part of another case back in 2009 that has been doing the rounds again lately thanks to Theresa May. Needless to say this article has already attracted over 500 comments, largely from utterly stupid people who cannot see how ludicrous the headline actually is.

Multiculturalism and the Monkeysphere

The Monkeysphere is the group of people who each of us, using our monkeyish brains, are able to conceptualize as people. If the monkey scientists are monkey right, it’s physically impossible for this to be a number much larger than 150…

we all have limits to our sphere of monkey concern. It’s the way our brains are built. We each have a certain circle of people who we think of as people, usually our own friends and family and neighbors, and then maybe some classmates or coworkers…

Those who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They’re sort of one-dimensional bit characters.
David Wong, What is the Monkeysphere?

Whenever I hear people argue that multiculturalism is dead I always think of Dunbar’s number and the Monkeysphere. Robin Dunbar – an anthropologist – researched monkey brains and found that the number of social group members a primate can track appears to be limited by the volume of the neocortex region of their brain. He then studied a human brain and estimated (based on the volume of the neocortex) that human beings also suffer from a similar limit (albeit slightly larger than a monkey) and theorized that the average human being can maintain a stable social relationship with a maximum of around 150 people.

As the above quotation suggests, anyone outside of this sphere of understanding essentially becomes a caricature, a one dimensional stereotype that is simply not a real human being to us. It is for this reason that we can be extremely upset when a loved one has a bad day at work, but can remain surprisingly unperturbed when a busload of schoolkids plunges over a cliff in Chile. We simply do not have the mental capacity to visualise them as human beings. Some people argue that this limited number serves an evolutionary purpose, for why should we concern ourselves with the lives of those that we cannot possibly influence? 24 hour rolling global news can be a terribly depressing affair, given that all of the events take place outside our monkeysphere and we have virtually no chance of having a positive impact or influence on any of the awful events we witness. We’re selfish creatures able to enjoy buying clothes that we know are made by kids in sweatshops because our brains don’t force us to see them as being like the children that reside in our monkeysphere – they exist only fleetingly in an uncaring periphery.

Given the high rate of depression in developed nations it appears that stepping outside of our limited social sphere is not good for us and that in many ways, ignorance is bliss. This brings me back to this idea – so loved by politicians, the media and nationalist groups – that a national culture really exists and that we must somehow all engage with defending it. David Cameron’s recent declaration that ‘Multiculturalism has failed’ just doesn’t stand up to the merest whiff of scrutiny. Culture isn’t a racial thing, it isn’t something that divides people of different skin colours, it is something that divides all of us. Just as I have absolutely nothing in common with a stereotypical EDL member and would never envisage socialising with one, David Cameron would never dream of socialising – or even having anything in common with – 95% of the UK. Likewise, I can never imagine socialising with the elite into which Cameron and most of the elected cabinet of our government were born: culturally we are divided by an impassable chasm.

For David Cameron to imply that Britain has some kind of culture that immigrants should be assimilated into is quite ridiculous, because the people of Britain are not an homogeneous blob. We all live in our own little Monkeyspheres which are full of people just like us. We don’t really know anyone outside of this sphere and what’s more we don’t have the capacity to really know anyone outside of this sphere (nor necessarily the desire). David Cameron and his elitist monkey-chums don’t know anybody who doesn’t have inherited wealth, he’s not necessarily taking any pleasure in the cuts that his government is pushing through, he just simply doesn’t understand the concerns of those who live outside of his monkeysphere. He doesn’t know anyone who has ever had to rely on the government for support, or anyone to whom money is an issue. He can only appreciate the needs of those inside his tiny sphere, hence why he cannot see any problem with combining savage cuts to the not-human-in-his-eyes masses with tax breaks for his friends in the banks. He’s just looking after his own interests in the same way that the person shopping in a high-street fashion store does when they buy stuff they know has been made using slave-labour.

We’re never all going to get along; it’s physically and mentally impossible. The sooner we realise this, the quicker we can stop thinking about the world in such simple terms. Being British by birth can only mean that I share the same place of birth with other British people. It does not mean I share a common bond or culture. Chances are I will never even get close to interacting with a fraction of 1% of my fellow birth-buddies. I have good relationships with the people I work closely with, I have a professional passing recognition of others outside of that small group. I have a couple of friends from university that I keep in contact with, and a few close friends from various jobs I’ve had down the years. I commute to work in my car, I get home, get inside and spend most evenings with my wife. I speak to my neighbours occasionally, not because I consider myself anti-social, but because they’re just not part of my monkeysphere – just as I am not part of theirs.

I enjoy my life but I live in the knowledge that I will spend the vast majority of my adult life in work, not socialising. Our ability to form and maintain close social bonds is limited by how much time we have to participate in such behaviour (Dunbar even argues that language was developed as an easy way of performing social grooming). And for those of you thinking that social networking sites are going to change all of this, think again:

Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

The truth is we all exist in tiny bubbles which will always encourage us to act in the best interest of those within our particular bubble. We can certainly acknowledge that we live in a world much bigger than this bubble by creating basic expectations to nullify as much as possible our selfish instincts – this is why we have laws, the Human Rights Act, equality and diversity policies in work and so forth. It is to try to ensure that when we step outside our monkeyspheres we are able to treat those strange beings around us as humans, even if we cannot truly visualise them as such.

What is dangerous with this assumption that somehow other cultural groups cannot also abide by these basic tenets of civilisation and that they must therefore abandon anything that might signify that they are outwardly different to the majority is that it feeds our natural instinct to dehumanise any outgroup. How can we possibly say because a group of around 20 Muslims protested against British soldiers serving in Iraq and 4 individuals bombed London in suicide attacks that somehow multiculturalism has failed? The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims living in the UK – making 24 a minute percentage,  whilst a survey conducted in 2009 of attitudes of British Muslims suggested that they ‘were found to identify more strongly with the UK than the rest of the population, and have a much higher regard for the country’s institutions’.

Yet because of our monkey brains we have the EDL demanding that all ‘Muzzies’ or ‘Muzz rats’ be thrown out or worse because of the actions of an utterly insignificant few. We never demand the slaughter of all men whenever a male paedophile is convicted. It is no less insane to treat all Muslims in they way that some people are now.

Repeated experiments across cultures show that when human beings are put into groups – even in the most arbitrary way, such as at the toss of a coin – they will always display ingroup bias and a desire to maintain distinctiveness from other groups. Media narratives about Muslims or any other group that exists outside of our Monkeysphere play into this irrational desire to negatively perceive those outside of our immediate groups – whilst maintaining a positive bias to those in our own groups. Arguing that somehow all his could be resolved if massive cultural groups – which are in themselves split into near infinite amounts of vastly different spheres – were somehow assimilated into what is seen as the dominant cultural norm is ludicrous.

All we can do as individuals is realise that we don’t normally process people outside of our tiny social groups as being real human beings. This is why a loving, doting son is able to mug someone else’s mother and we need laws with significant punishments to suppress such actions. We are hard-wired to stereotype outgroups, homogenising millions of people into one simple schema. But we have conscious thought, we can take a step back and challenge our default cognitive processes so that we can force ourselves to realise that Muslims are individual human beings and they cannot possibly be judged by the actions of an insignificant minority who happen to share the same religious belief.

Multiculturalism hasn’t failed, it’s not even a real concept when we consider how our brains function and that we only really share a common goal with the select few inside our Monkeysphere.

More lies about immigrants

It is amazing that after all this time of reading the Daily Mail and browsing the Daily Mail website I still find certain headlines and articles shocking. Perhaps what I really find disturbing is that the Daily Mail – and other media outlets – can get away with dishonest headlines written purely to stir up racial hatred. The Daily Mail can pretend all it likes that it dislikes the BNP and the EDL, but their agenda is utterly in support of both of those organisations. As soon as I saw this headline I thought it must be rubbish: ‘Harriet Harman praises ‘hero’ immigrants who send welfare handouts home’, and I was right.

As has been pointed out to me on a few occasions, I should not blame journalists for the headlines that accompany their articles. So I will not blame Simon Walters for this headline. However, I will give him credit for the opening paragraph:

Harriet Harman has praised ‘heroic’ immigrants who claim welfare payments in Britain and use the cash to support families living abroad.

She said the Government should make it easier for them to send the money home and called for tax refunds to encourage more immigrants to follow suit, in particular those who paid for their children to be educated in the Third World.

Walters then finds an audience member – unnamed of course – to give ‘their’ opinion:

one member of the audience said Ms Harman would have to be ‘careful’ how she campaigned on the issue. ‘She was told that if it was found the majority of people sending remittances were on benefits, critics would say it proved that they are receiving too much in State handouts if they can still send money abroad,’ according to one person who was present.

Yes, critics, like the Daily Mail for example who publish this headline and make the allegation that it is ‘welfare handouts’ that are being sent home. Harman said nothing of the sort, instead she praised immigrants ‘who come from Africa and work and study and bring up their families here. Many of them also send money back to their village in their country of origin. We should respect and encourage that. International development is not just something done by governments’.

As far as benefits are concerned:

‘Some of these families will be receiving child benefit and tax credits to which they are entitled. Charitable generosity has never been confined to the well-off.’

So, it seems that this is not a case of immigrants coming over here to be ‘hosed down with benefits’ – as Littlejohn would say – so that they can afford to send loads of money home. No, it is the case of working immigrants who receive the same benefits that all employees receive whilst in the UK sending a little money home to help relatives. What is wrong with this? Do immigrants working in the UK have to spend all of their money in the UK? I seem to recall a lot of British people like to holiday abroad, draining the UK economy of much-needed money, should the Daily Mail campaign to stop this to?

Depressingly the article is accompanied with a photograph of Harman and a black immigrant, which the picture caption informs us is ‘one of her Muslim constituents’. Not that the Mail would want to make a link between immigrant scroungers sending ‘welfare handouts’ and Muslims, of course. The article ends with an unnamed ‘Conservative official’ who rages:

‘The idea that people should come here from Africa, claim welfare benefits and send it all back home is ridiculous and irresponsible.’

Yes, that idea is ridiculous, but no-one has said anything about this happening – the Daily Mail has made this up, no doubt along with all of the anonymous ‘sources’ in the article. Thanks to the pathetic PCC the Daily Mail doesn’t even need to be creative, it can just make stuff up and print it.

Still, the readers get the right message:

Lunatic

The ‘special’ James Slack

James Slack has a reputation for twisting, distortion and good old-fashioned lying when it comes to his many articles on immigration. He is paid to ensure any news story on immigration slots nicely into the Mail’s narrative, which seems to be that Britain is being swamped by brown-skinned foreigners to such an extent that we are becoming a minority. Last night James Slack posted a ‘Special report’ titled: ‘Will the white British population be in a minority in 2066?’.

The whole article is based on a report by Prof Coleman who Slack makes a special effort to verify as ‘one of Britain’s foremost experts on demographics… hugely respected for his academic ­rigour and for the avoidance of ­emotion and prejudice in his work’. However, further on the Mail underlines his credibility somewhat by pointing out that he does research for the MigrationWatch ‘think-tank’, well known for providing completely bogus figures on immigration to be lapped up by an unquestioning media. Prof Coleman’s report suggests that:

The white British-born ­population — defined by Prof Coleman as white English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish-born citizens — would decline from 80 per cent of the total now to 59 per cent in 2051.

Further into the future, and also taking into account factors such as changing birth and death rates, the ‘white British population’ would become the minority after about 2066.

So, already the report seems to be on dodgy ground – as is Slack – because what it is suggesting is that there is a fundamental difference between being a White Briton and a Briton that has a different skin colour. I can understand to an extent people becoming concerned at British identity being lost, but to be concerned because that British identity actually includes people of a different skin colour is just plain racism.

Prof Coleman seems to produce one of these reports every few years and he has been accused in the past as being ‘rather simplistic’ with the projections that he makes. Not surprisingly James Slack does not attempt to question the report in any way – after all, he happily churnalises MigrationWatch reports on a regular basis. At the end of the ‘Special report’ James Slack says that:

Whatever the view a person holds on immigration, nobody should disagree with his desire to see the subject fully — and maturely — debated.

So, what is Slack’s idea of a ‘mature’ and ‘full’ debate? Well, bringing out the usual tabloid rubbish about immigration. Firstly, he claims that Labour and the Lib Dems are ‘widely considered to promote open-door immigration policies’ and that the Lib Dems in the coalition ‘continue to want open-door policies’. Before we can have a mature and full debate about immigration the right-wing must first accept that there has never been an ‘open-door’ immigration policy. People from outside the EU have always struggled to move to the UK. Tell the Iraqi interpretors that we have an open-door immigration policy, or the Gurkhas. The only open-door policy is immigration within the EU, which is reciprocal and largely involves white people which should surely make the Daily Mail feel slightly less scared.

The next point follows on from this previous point: Slack actually suggests that ‘Tories have long believed that Labour encouraged mass immigration in the belief that as newcomers to a nation tend to be more Left-wing, Labour’s electoral chances would be enhanced’. This argument needs to be consigned to the dustbin before any proper discussion can take place.

The next point is the height of hypocrisy: ‘Meanwhile, in the absence of proper debate or consultation with the British people, odious far-Right groups were able to cynically capitalise on the sense of alienation felt by working-class voters in particular’. ‘Odious far-Right groups’ are the result of the perception of immigration, not the reality. The media work hard to create this false perception and it is about time they put their hands up and accepted this.

Slack also argues that integration has been hampered by ‘the failed doctrine of multiculturalism’. Who says it has failed? Who has decided this? Where has the ‘open debate’ been on this point? What does integration actually mean? You can’t just say something has failed. This is also linked to Slack’s claim that:

there was the belated introduction of the so-called Life In The UK test for foreign nationals seeking a British passport. Yet this eschewed questions on British history in favour of risible sections on how to claim welfare benefits.

Show me this test please James. Show me the sections on claiming benefits, show me the lack of questions on British history. If you cannot do so I will assume that the UK citizenship test is actually more like the one on the official test website. A lot of ‘White British’ people took this test a while back and the vast majority of them failed miserably because the questions are so obscure. Also, we all failed to notice the sections on claiming benefits.

Slack argues that ‘it is encouraging to note that his thought-provoking ­article should be published by a Left-leaning magazine, suggesting that — finally — we may be moving to a time when adult discussion of immigration policy is considered possible’. I wonder why he doesn’t describe other reports published on immigration by ‘Left-leaning’ magazines as ‘thought-provoking’? Is it simply because this report says exactly what the Mail wants to believe and the others do not? Of course it is, which is why no ‘adult discussion of immigration’ is currently possible.

As if to really ram home this point Slack also brings up Gillian Duffy – the rather simple granny that Gordon Brown called a bigot, who became a champion in the eyes of the media who kept calling her ‘eloquent’, even though she clearly was not. As I pointed out at the time, the right-wing claim that you ‘cannot talk about immigration’ was ludicrous given that the right-wing talk about little else. What I do agree on is that we cannot have a proper discussion on immigration as long as the right-wing papers insist on only discussing it in racist terms using distorted figures or outright lies.

Currently, James Slack is employed by the Daily Mail to tell lies about immigration. How can he seriously suggest we should enter into a ‘mature’, ‘adult’ debate when this is the case?

It’s a sin

I listened to Iain Duncan Smith’s interview on Radio 4 this morning when he was introducing his ideas about reforming welfare. He made the point that what he wanted to change was the situation where people are disadvantaged by taking a job, in that they lose so many benefits that work forces them into greater poverty. When questioned about whether there were the jobs available to get people back into work – during a period of slow growth / recession – Iain Duncan Smith pointed out that part of the problem was that the current system failed to get people back into work even when the economy was growing and millions of new jobs were created.

He put it like this:

‘We created over four million jobs in those 13 years and…70 per cent of those net jobs were taken by people from overseas because people in this county weren’t capable or able to take those jobs. Surely that’s a sin.’

He clearly means that the sin is the current benefits system in that it does two specific things: it makes some people unable / unwilling to take a job because they are financially disadvantaged by doing so, and it fails to give others the skills that would enable them to take a job if they wanted it. The sin is not that foreign workers were able to fill the roles, but that British workers were not able to fulfill the roles for the above two reasons.

Naturally the Daily Mail – in their latest, shameless abuse of language – have distorted this meaning completely with their headline: ‘Handing millions of jobs to foreigners while benefits bill soared was a ‘sin’, declares IDS‘. Frankly, this headline appals me with its dishonesty. Once again, the Daily Mail blames the foreigner, this time they get the blame for the ‘benefits bill’ soaring because they took all of the jobs; which at least makes a change from blaming them for making the benefits bill soar by taking all of the benefits.

There are a few things wrong with the Daily Mail headline. Firstly, no-one was ‘handed’ a job. The whole point IDS was making was that the jobs created by a growing economy could not be ‘handed’ to those on benefits because they either were not capable of doing them or they could not afford to lose the benefits that would be taken away should they take up a position. Foreigners were not ‘handed’ jobs at the expense of those on benefits, rather they had to be brought in because of the failure of the current system to make work pay and to provide the relevant skills to those out of work. Secondly, the ‘benefits bill soared’ because those on benefits were either unemployable or not prepared to work for the reason given above, it has nothing to do with foreign workers.

Presumably the foreign workers actually helped the situation by filling the positions and paying taxes – generating public and private wealth – that would have otherwise remained vacant and would have prevented growth.

This is not just another misleading / dishonest headline from the Daily Mail, but an article that rams home the dishonest message from the first word:

Iain Duncan Smith today branded giving millions of jobs to foreigners while the benefits bill soared a ‘sin’ as he unveiled draconian sanctions to limit the handouts.

The Work and Pensions Secretary condemned the way so many posts created while Labour were in power went to immigrants rather than British workers.

As above, IDS said no such thing and was trying to point out that our reliance on foreign workers was not a New Labour plot to change the ethnicity of Britain, but it was caused by a benefits system that makes it more beneficial not to work and doesn’t provide the right training opportunities to the unemployed so that they can fill skills gaps in the jobs market. Labour didn’t give jobs to immigrants at the expense of the unemployed, they simply failed in the task of making the unemployable employable. After all, the market – the free market that the Mail loves so much – determines who gets a job and who doesn’t, the government can only try to equip the unemployed to fulfill the market requirements. This isn’t easy and in a globalised world this need is often met by the movement of labour – or immigration as it is more widely known.

As usual the Daily Mail ignores any semblance of complexity and instead completely distorts the truth to repeat a favourite, dishonest narrative of theirs: that in reality as ever, it is the foreigner who is to blame for our ‘soaring benefits bill’ and the unemployed citizens of the UK.


Update:

The article – as pointed out in the comments has now been extensively re-written and the comments have been deleted. The Daily Mail now has a more accurate story on their website, but they have already milked the outraged, xenophobic traffic from the previous headline and content.

What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension?

I know it is not news to anyone that the Daily Mail is staggeringly hypocritical, but sometimes it is just worth repeating because they do something like this:

hypocrisy

Phil Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: ‘[embarking] on a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to “make the white folk angry” enough to vote for him.’ The Daily Mail is appalled at the fact  ‘that while he was stirring up racial ill-feeling against his rival, Phil Woolas was the minister in charge of immigration’.

It it worth mentioning at this point that Minority Thought and Primly Stable have already covered this story and they both move in the same direction here, the only direction possible, and that is to point out the Daily Mail’s own record of running ‘a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to ‘make the white folk angry’. Minority Thought puts forward the smears of Nick Clegg during the election campaign in which the Daily Mail asked: ‘Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?’ Minority Thought then moves on to the recent announcement of a proposed strike on Bonfire Night by the Fire Brigades Union, to which the Daily Mail responded by rooting through the bins of union general secretary Matt Wrack; as well as knocking the doors of various family members to dig for dirt.

Both Minority Thought and Primly Stable give a few examples of the Mail’s efforts to stir up racial tension, but in reality one would need an encyclopedic memory to recall all of them, and it would make this blog post as long as the entire archive to list them. I’ll attempt to pick out a few of their more disgraceful efforts anyway, just to ram the point home that the Mail can hardly criticise a few leaflets, when it has thousands of newspaper editions doing far worse – under the current editor, Paul Dacre, so no excuses.

First of all, the Daily Mail repeatedly repeats the myth that immigrants and asylum seekers rush to the top of social housing lists at the expense of local, white folk. In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing that the BBC summed-up thus:

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says.Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…

“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.

“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”

Most major news sources – including tabloid newspapers – reported this finding: ITN: Immigrant housing priority ‘a myth’; Guardian: Claims that immigrants prioritised for social housing ‘a myth’; The Independent: Study ‘ends myth’ of housing for immigrants; The Daily Telegraph: Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows. Even the Daily Express headline is refreshingly accurate (even if they still shout it):  IMMIGRANTS ‘DON’T TOP HOUSING LIST’.

Accept, of course, the Daily Mail, who instead took a different angle:

Daily Mail lies

This article ignored the main finding of the report in order to protect the Daily Mail narrative that immigrants were being treated better than ‘indigenous’ Brits, a narrative that fuels much of the BNP support as well as the rising militarism of the EDL. Just before the Daily Mail completely whitewashed the findings of this report they were still pushing the myth hard:

‘The “British homes for British workers” plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list’.

Just last month the Daily Mail were again repeating the myth by claiming that Birmingham City Council was putting ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first’. The implication was clear: all other councils were still putting asylum seekers at the top of the housing queue.

Or what about the annual claim that the majority of new born boys in the UK are called ‘Mohammed’? This year the Daily Mail’s coverage earned the first Five Chinese Crackers‘ ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award’, against some stiff competition given that every tabloid and some broadsheets were running with this myth. I’ll let 5CC take over:

Here’s why your version won:

  • It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
  • As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
  • Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
  • It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
  • It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.

Or how about the Daily Mail coverage of Winterval (again, they are not the only newspaper guilty of pushing this myth)? At first the banning of Christmas was aimed at the ‘PC brigade’ but the Mail has now realised it has a much better target: Muslims. The PC brigade were banning Christmas in case it offended Muslims. Councils, not content with giving them all the benefits and free houses denied to good old British white-folk, they were now ‘pandering’ to their ‘demands’.

This may seem a ludicrous idea, but it is believed by many, including the EDL whose leader, Stephen Lennon, recently threatened any council thinking of ‘pandering to Muslims’ in an interview with the Times:

He said that “reluctantly” he uses the threat of a demonstration as “blackmail” to ensure that councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions. “We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down.”

Who are these ‘Islamic pressure groups’? When has any Muslim ever wanted to ‘ban Christmas’? Phil Woolas used racial tensions to get re-elected, the Daily Mail use racial tensions to sell newspapers, whilst providing a stable diet of disinformation to bolster support and shape the ideology of right-wing extremists in the UK. Christmas has never been banned and councils have never renamed it. The myth has been debunked so many times it is worrying that a collection of adults believes it to such an extent they are writing to every council.

So, what is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? The tabloid press.

The same old stories

It has been another busy week for media disinformation on a range of their favourite topics. The Daily Mail has made more extremely misleading claims about migration, this time attacking skilled workers by implying that only 1 in 4 of them actually work in a ‘top job’. The figures in fact could only confirm that 29% were in low-skilled work, whilst almost half of the sample returned unclear data – data that the Daily Mail or anyone else cannot possibly draw any conclusions from.

They have also made some very bizzarre claims against health and safety, again. This time they claim that ‘A ten year old champion swimmer has been banned from wearing his goggles in the pool under health and safety rules’. As Minority Thought points out ‘the decision to prevent Alex from wearing goggles has nothing to do with health and safety rules of any kind’ and in fact as the articles confirm the reason is as follows:

The school, St Anne’s in Royton, Greater Manchester, says it is following Oldham Council swimming guidelines which state that beginners and improvers should become used to eye contact with water.

It seems to me that the traditional tabloid portrayal of ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ would demand that goggles be worn at all times in order to protect eyes from the water, this is the complete opposite of the normal ‘elf ‘n’ safety gone mad’ myth.

This story is little more than an aside in the real story that an hospital eye consultant (ophthalmologist Parwez Hossain) has advised that participants in apple-bobbing should wear goggles and that bottled or boiled water should be used and the stalks removed from the apples. The Mail refers to this advice as ‘Halloween health and safety horror’ and insert the normal comments from outraged Joe Public:

Shop assistant and Halloween enthusiast Ben Richards, 29, from Southampton said: ‘This seems like health and safety gone mad.

‘I’ve done apple bobbing for years and never had any problems. It is all part of the Halloween experience.’

And, oddly, they even give some space for the thoughts of Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples & Pears (which represents apple growers) as if because he deals with the marketing of apples he is somehow in a position to comment on the dangers of bobbing for apples:

‘Health and safety can be taken too far and in this case it is ludicrous in the extreme. I have never heard of anybody suffering an injury as a result of apple bobbing.’

If he had read the comments of Parwez Hossain he would have known the following:

Mr Hossain said three people were admitted to the hospital with apple bobbing injuries last year. He added: ‘Casualty staff have seen children and adults turning up on Halloween with scratches on the cornea and eye injuries from impacts caused by apple bobbing…

‘Admissions to casualty on Bonfire Night have gone down as people have become more aware of health and safety but we have not seen a decline on Halloween.’

The Daily Mail declares that ‘now apple bobbing has fallen foul of the health and safety police’, even though this is merely advice given out by one hospital in an attempt to reduce the numbers of people they treat for avoidable injuries during halloween. The Daily Mail really needs some basic lessons on risk and they really need to stop using the word ‘police’ to accompany any advice that they do not wish to heed. There is no ‘health and safety police’, this advice is not backed-up by any kind of sanction or legal impediment. It is advice you are free to ignore or heed, something very different to the laws enforced by the police.

In other news the Daily Mail has been horrifying readers (and providing fuel for the EDL) by claiming that the ‘Islamification’ of Britain is in full swing because ‘Mohammed’ is the most popular name for newborn boys in the UK. Accept, of course, that is isn’t. It is actually in 16th place but the Daily Mail adds together all the variant spellings of the name until they force it into first place. Even then it only accounts for 2.09% of all newborn boys born each year in the UK. You can read more on this story on the following blogs:

Meanwhile this blog might be a bit sporadic for a bit whilst some other projects are being developed.

Daily Mail still lying about asylum seekers and social housing

In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing in which they correct the misconception that asylum seekers or immigrants somehow are top of the housing queue. The BBC reported:

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says. Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…

“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.

“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”

I posted a blog article on this at the time because just about every tabloid and media outlet reported the findings, except the Daily Mail who went with:

The article failed to make any reference to the fact that immigrants / asylum seekers do not ‘jump the housing queue’ or get any favourable treatment whatsoever. Fast forward to today and the Daily Mail are still pushing this false media narrative: ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first‘. The article gets exactly the response it wants from its readers, just look at the current best-rated comments:

Daily Mail readers hate immigrants

This is a myth that the Daily Mail just will not let die.

The next ‘Wave’

Another scary immigration headline in the Daily Mail today, implying that Bulgaria has granted British citizenship to non-EU residents:

Another dishonest James Slack article

What has actually happened is that Bulgaria plans to grant Bulgarian citizenship to around 500,000 human beings currently residing in the Ukraine and Moldova. The Daily Mail implies that Bulgaria is giving these people the right to move to move to the UK:

Bulgaria has announced plans to hand passports to more than 500,000 non-EU citizens – giving them long-term rights to live and work in the UK.

Which is a bit misleading given that in the very next paragraph they write this:

Nationality minister Bozhidar Dimitrov says the new citizens – currently in the Ukraine and Moldova – would be free to come and live in Bulgaria.

This does mean of course that once given an Bulgarian passport the 500,000 people would be free to move anywhere within the EU. However, what evidence is there to suggest that a significant number of people would want to move to Bulgaria, let alone move across Europe to end up in Britain – a country that is, let’s not forget, ‘Broken’. The Daily Mail just assumes that all 500,000 will get a passport and catch the first bus to Britain.

This kind of scare tactic – employed here by James Slack, who seems to be ‘writer-in-charge-of-dishonest-immigration-stories’ – has been used before by the Daily Express when it claimed that: ‘BRITAIN was last night warned to expect a new wave of immigration from Eastern Europe after almost half a million Ukrainians and Serbians were given the right to live, work and claim benefits in the UK‘. The number of potential immigrants (500,000) is the same in both stories, as is the implication that the people involved are not being granted the right to live in a European country hundreds of miles from Britain, but rather they are being given direct access to work and live in Britain – and claim benefits of course.

The comments make it clear that the readers of the article have taken the message to heart: Britain is about to be swamped again by a new wave of immigrants. It almost seems kind of pointless to point out that this just is not true.