Tag Archives: immigration

Theresa May’s Littlejohn moment

So Theresa May repeated the 2009 myth that an immigrant was allowed to stay in the UK because they owned a cat. Worryingly, her speech had – according to Left Foot Forward – been checked by no less than David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander. Oh dear. For the record (in case you somehow missed this)  this is what she claimed in her speech:

“We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here. The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.”

To be fair to her, she wasn’t making this story up – that is the job of our wonderful press which can do so safe in the knowledge that it faces no sanctions for doing so. The story originated in the Sunday Telegraph and, even though it was clearly rubbish, it was copied by the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Sun and the Daily Star.

As I’ve written so many times before: dishonest journalism has consequences.

It has only been a few days since David Cameron attacked the Human Rights Act based on nothing more than an incident he read about in the Daily Mail. Needless to say, that Daily Mail article was utterly dishonest and was discredited here long before Cameron repeated it. It seems to me that the main problem with democracy in the UK is that all politicians can ever focus on is the next election and therefore they feel they are always at the mercy of public opinion. They therefore discuss what they think the country cares about, which largely means that they (having no knowledge of the country as a whole) simply look at what the newspapers are writing about and base political discourse around the same few tired narratives – most of which are extremely distorted.

Thus every time a politician wants to appeal to the electorate they feel as if they must go for the short-term topic of the day and that they can only connect with the public by repeating some crap they read in the newspaper – as if newspapers are some magical conduit to our souls. This is why in a time of a world financial crisis politicians think our main concerns are the 100 or so illegal immigrants who we fail to legally deport each year due to the Human Rights Act, or weekly bin collections, or immigration or council tax or people on benefits or whatever else is easy to attack, say or promise. We are treated as if we were selfish children, unable to see past our own immediate wants.

I don’t think we are, and I think – increasingly – we are becoming more and more conscious of just how poisoned political discourse has become in this country thanks to the distorted media narratives created by a largely amoral and unregulated press. It might at first seem pretty funny that the home secretary should make such an obvious gaffe during a big speech. But it isn’t funny, at all, because it happens far too often and on most occasions it is rarely challenged.


In case you are wondering, yes, Richard Littlejohn did cover this story.

1 in 25 adults buy the Daily Mail

And every single one of them should be ashamed of themselves:

Daily Mail Scum

This is a headline that is printed every other month by the Mail along with the Express, as if each time it is somehow shocking and new that children with different skin colours attend British schools. That national newspapers can regularly print stories that are essentially just pure racist outrage against primary school children is a disgrace.

If the out-and-out racism doesn’t offend you, then you might be interested in some examples of how these stories are rarely backed-up by the statistics they claim to be drawing on:

The Mail’s article kind of ends with something that is an ambivalently extreme example:

An extreme example

On the one hand the short article underneath demonstrates that the school is doing brilliantly and it’s actually on the surface a tale of racial harmony being achieved by young people who aren’t as bitter, blinkered and scared as your average Daily Mail reader. However, clearly this is an extreme example that hasn’t been chosen for this purpose, but rather as a great photo for readers to start frothing at the mouth to as they play their favourite ‘spot the white kid’ game. The headline figure says ‘1 in 5′ are ethnic minorities, the picture shows (as far as my eyesight can tell) that white kids are about 2 in 27 – and who knows, even the white ones could be ethnic minorities (This kind of highlights the stupidity of xenophobia and racism really. What is an ethnic minority? Is it a white Australian child in a class? Or is it the child born in Britain but who does not have pasty white skin?).

Who cares? They’re children, in school – innocent of every crime apart from looking slightly different to one another.

Then you scroll down to a seperate article tagged on to the main article:

Oh, I get it now.

I see, more ethnics means less places for white kids and white parents are left scrapping for their chosen schools. It all makes perfect sense now.

Then you scroll to the comments, and – knowing perfectly well what you will find – you click on ‘Best rated':

Bloody Daily Mail readers

I just have to keep reminding myself that Daily Mail readers are just an unpleasant minority – and people who think Peter Hitchens is right about anything even more so.

Daily Mail: the letters

Today David Cameron made a speech about immigration designed to specifically generate glowing tabloid headlines and appeal to the readers who have been systematically lied to about immigration for years. Here are two letters printed in the Daily Mail – one yesterday, one today – that demonstrate the sort of person David Cameron is shaping his immigration policies around:

Joyless Britain

It’s a pleasant evening, so you think you’ll stroll down to the pub for a pint. Then you remember your local has closed and been sold to a property developer. So you decide to take the bus to the next village – but wait a minute, it’s the evening, so there are no buses.

Reluctantly, you take the car, even though it will restrict you to just one pint. But perhaps that’s just as well because at the pub you find a pint of ale now costs more than £3 (and you read recently that it actually costs just 10p to produce).

You buy a pint and are just about to light up, when you remember you’re not allowed to smoke in the pub. You could go outside, but it now looks like rain.

So you stay indoors and share a joke with a friend, but be careful – your joke must be politically correct in case one of the many whingeing minorities overhears you and denounces you, in which case you could possibly be jailed.

You fancy a bite to eat and ask the landlord if he has a pork pie or a sandwich.

‘No,’ he says. ‘But you can have a three-course meal for £20. What do you want, Chinese, Thai, Indian or flambe?’

Making any remark about that would probably be misconstrued as a racist comment by any do-gooder nearby, so you say nothing, drive home – carefully – and read a good book (if you’ve got one because the local library has been closed).

That’s Merry England today.

ALAN CAIRNS, Tadley, Hants.

Jobs for the boys

Here’s my ad for a local government job: ‘Jolly Gym Knickers Officer Required. Frustratedshire County Council is a forward-thinking, newly Tory-controlled council which when under Labour was proactive, multi-cultural, diversity orientated and community paranoid.

‘It seeks to employ a Jolly Gym Knickers Officer who must be white, male, middle-class, healthy, well-built and fully capable of smacking any Socialist or Liberal in the mouth if they so much as mention political correctness in the workplace.

‘Applicants must be of a normal sexual orientation, been born in England and lived here all their lives, with a healthy appreciation of the English sense of office humour, which they should be able to demonstrate by keeping staff supplied with all the latest jokes on religion, sex, culture and race.

‘Duties will include making sure ashtrays are available on every desk. No excuses for stopping work to smoke outside will be tolerated. It will also be the duty of the officer to make sure all suggestions deriving from EU directives must be regarded as anti-English interference.

‘He must also ensure that when the council is in session, the Union Flag is flown and each session is ended by all councillors singing God Save the Queen. Foreigners need not apply.’

Edward A. Walker, Redcar, Cleveland.

We desperately need a better press.

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.

Shameful ‘journalism’

Saw this headline on the Mail website today and immediately thought it sounded dodgy: ‘Bah humbug! Father Christmas banned at children’s centre… to respect faith of one Muslim family‘. Bad journalism is like a virus that is easily carried around the globe via the Internet. Searching for more information on the story led to me having to trawl through hundreds of blog posts, news sites, forums all of which were littered with the most hateful and violent denunciations of all Muslims because of this one story.

Going back to the source of the story takes us right back to the 14th December when the Mankato Free Press run this story: ‘Santa gets the heave-ho-ho-ho‘. The article makes a number of assumptions and is fuelled by the suspicious of the ‘banned’ Santa:

Dennis Jackson said it was over-reaching cultural sensitivity that led to being told his annual Santa appearances must cease at St. Peter Head Start classes for young children.

Jackson said he was told “it was against some people’s wishes” for him to make the half-hour appearances for two classes catering to about three dozen children.

He said St. Peter Head Start personnel gave him no reason for the action. He’s made Santa appearances there the past four years to dispense candy bought at his own expense.

“It kind of burnt me up,” he said, speculating that program officials turned him away in deference to requests from immigrant families that don’t celebrate Christmas.

So, right away we are told that the Santa (Dennis Jackson) was given no reason for the action and that it is Jackson’s ‘speculation’ that he was turned away at the request of immigrants. This does not seem to fit in at all with the Daily Mail’s confident assertion that the ‘ban’ was caused by one Muslim family. The spokeswomen for the organisation does not necessarily help matters with her comments – but then, who knows if she has been quoted in full or in context:

“We have Somali families in the program,” she said. “We’re respecting the wishes of families in the program.”

She didn’t say how many objections were made, but said that program parents are surveyed annually to gauge their feelings toward holiday observances in classes.

She indicated that more than one objection would be sufficient to waive an observance.

“The simple truth is that southern Minnesota has become a much more culturally diverse society than it was a few decades ago,” she said.

“Part of our challenge in Head Start is providing an environment where young children from many different cultures can all feel comfortable.”

Again, no confirmation of how many objections were raised or who had raised them. If this journalist had any decency they would not have run the story as essentially conjecture, knowing the result would be mass intolerance from people seeking a justification for their own racial and religious hatred of Muslim immigrants. Who knows, the lack of invitation (which is not exactly a ban, is it?) may have been caused by one Muslim family, but equally it could have been for other reasons. This is why journalists spend time being trained, so that they can look into things to establish the facts prior to publication. Journalism is not accepting the comments of one aggrieved individual and sending them around the globe as pure speculation.

None of this really matters though. The sad thing is that people all over the world cannot separate the individual from the group label. Why would the complaints of one Muslim family (if this is the case) automatically lead to anyone wanting every single Muslim person out of the country? People act as individuals, irrespective of what labels we might want to apply to them. Everyone on earth can be labelled – whether it be through nationality, race, religion, gender and so forth – and we all deserve to be respected as individuals because we very often don’t choose the labels that are applied to us. As individuals we want to be judged for our own deeds and actions, not the actions of any other individual who can be put under the same label as us.

Racism, intolerance and bigotry is born out of ignorance. This kind of journalism is precisely the ignorance that helps to perpetuate and feed such behaviours. The outrage has been stirred, sent around the world and absorbed before any journalists has even attempted to establish the true facts.

That isn’t just bad journalism, it is dangerous journalism.

As for the Mail’s utterly unfounded assertions that:

Father Christmas was banned from visiting children at a Head Start Program… because Santa, and all he stands for, offended one Muslim family.

They are an absolute disgrace. Remember articles like this the next time the Mail pretends it does not support the EDL.

Daily Mail back on the subject of baby names

This time they cover a survey of 423,000 children born in 2010 which claims that ‘Oliver and Olivia become Britain’s most popular names for children in 2010‘. Which is odd, considering that it wasn’t long ago that the Mail was claiming that Mohammed was the most popular boy’s name. Even stranger, Mohammed doesn’t even make it into the top 10 – a top ten which seems to suggest ‘that TV, celebrity and news trends continue to have a major influence on what parents call their children’.

Still, there must be a perfectly rational explanation for why Mohammed does not appear at the top of this list, and thankfully the Daily Mail reassures xenophobic and deeply worried readers that:

The list was compiled by online parenting club Bounty from names given to it by parents who had children this year.

An official Office for National Statistics list of names released earlier this year revealed that Mohammed, encompassing all its different spellings, was the most popular boy’s name. But it does not appear on the Bounty list because of the site’s social demographic.

OK. So, the message is: Muslim children are still taking over the country, but their parents do not use the online parenting club called Bounty. Glad they cleared that up. However, the Daily Mail (shock, horror) is not being entirely honest by saying that Mohammed does not appear on the Bounty list, because it does, way down at number 105, just beneath really bizarre names like Sean, Patrick, Tom and Elliot.

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.