Sunday, 16 August 2009

MailWatch #3

Instalment number three of our occasional service debunking migration stories in the Daily Mail, self-styled 'Last Bulwark Against The Tide Of Filth That Is Threatening To Engulf Civilisation'™

Since the last edition of MailWatch, the intervening two weeks have been incredibly quiet on the vilification-of-Calais-migrants’ front. In fact there have only been two Calais-related stories, 'Migrant hid in Border Agency bus to reach UK... and twenty immigration officers failed to spot him' [02/08] and 'Calais people smugglers 'more likely to be British'' [03/08], and both of those were at the beginning of the month. Of course that doesn't normally stop the Mail reminding its reader that there are still 'dangerous hordes of filthy foreigners' just waiting to cross the Channel to 'steal our jobs/homes/benefits/women/etc.'. So on 4 August, in a story entitled 'Lesson One in Britishness: Migrants taught how to claim benefits', there was a photo of, yes you've guessed it, Calais migrants.

Now forgive us for being obtuse, but where is the link between the following:

"Immigrants are to be given instructions on how to claim benefits as their first step in a new life in Britain…The instructions were set out in a Home Office paper on how immigrants will in future be asked to qualify for a British passport by earning points and credits." ... “At present those allowed entry into Britain gain citizenship almost automatically after five years.”

and a photograph with the caption 'Asylum seekers in Calais: The government is suggesting a points-based system for migrants who want citizenship (file picture)' that appeared between the two sections of text?

If the article is meant to be about so-called 'legal' migration, those arriving through official channels or who have legal status as approved asylum seekers, why put a photograph of Calais migrants in it?
Obviously some of the migrants in Calais will be applying for asylum status when they make it across the Channel (and many are likely to fail as they will already have been fingerprinted in France or a third country and, as a consequence, will be denied asylum in the UK). However, the vast majority will not bother to gain 'official' status, either because they have some naive belief that Britain is a land of freedom and opportunity or, more likely, because they know that they have not got a snowball's chance of remaining in the country legally. So we ask again, why put that particular photograph in the article?

Anyway, in the ten days since those three articles the paper has been suspiciously quiet on the Calais migrants’ front. Why, you might be asking? Well, as we understand it, at least one complaint has been submitted to the Press Complaints Commission about the very same areas of press coverage that we have been highlighting in this blog. Now this may just be coincidence but the fact is that the Mail has turned its target of
xenophobic spleen from the Calais migrants on to gypsies/travellers and bloody foreigners in general.

So we get, 'Councils spend £250,000 on consultants because they can't find anywhere to put travellers' [03/08]; 'How gipsies got £5m of Lottery cash to beat planning rules... and fund course on assertiveness training' [11/08]; 'Gypsy convoy invades site... just hours after council evicts travellers following six-year battle costing £400,000' [14/08]; and '£1m neighbours from hell: Meet the gipsy family terrorising an entire street' [15/08], four gypsy-related stories in less than 2 weeks
instead (as opposed to three in the whole of July).

Then of course there are the usual items such as 'Top judge faces sack for speaking out about immigrants abusing benefits system' [05/08], about their favourite Judge of the moment Ian 'Itchy Finger' Trigger (immigrants are always a good alternative to hoodies and hanging for a judge to publicly pontificate on); more foreigners-are-the-bane-of-our-existence stories like 'English-speaking pupils are a minority in inner-city London primary schools' [12/08] and the usual rampant sensationalism: 'Illegal immigrant rapes woman twice after escaping from Heathrow cell' [08/08]. And last but not least, the inevitable can-you-believe-those-crazy-foreigners stories; 'Merde! Paris reveals the reason it lost the 2012 Olympics to London... dog poo' [12/08] and 'Muslim woman banned from wearing a 'burkini' in a French swimming pool' [13/08]. The latter is a classic Daily Mail-style story, as it hits so many of the right buttons: crazy foreigners, Muslims, the French, the nanny state and, on top of all that, the chance to publish 2 pictures of women in swimwear, although I'm sure the average Mail reader would not rate the burkini particularly high in the titillation stakes.

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