Friday, 26 February 2010

Quote Of The Week / Loosing The PR Attack Dogs

(or the Year because it really is a doozy!)

"I think we are well on to the way to becoming a world class asylum system." - Lin Homer, Chief Executive UKBA on Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

The immigration system apologists certainly have been on the offensive over the past few days following both the coverage of the Yarl's Wood hunger strike; MP's calls for an inquiry into it; Al Aynsley-Green's report on Yarl's Wood, the chief inspector of the UKBA John Vine's claims today that government targets of dealing with 90 per cent of asylum cases within six months, plans to clear the 450,000 "legacy" historic files by 2011 were "unachievable" with current resources and that a new backlog of unresolved cases was building up; [1] and yesterday's release of the latest Office of National Statistics migration figures. All this on top of the right-wing press' sustained immigration-related assault orchestrated by the Tories and Alan Green's vanity project MigrationBotch.

Tough times for Woolas and his cronies. So much so that he appears to be cracking, letting his mask slip on Newsnight after being challenged about so-called 'large-scale migration' into an area, claimed that "My own family, my children, have suffered from that and we recognise that point ..." Further compounding his faux pas by adding "Well, if you get, as the gentleman says, if you get a big influx of people coming into an area, Slough Council, Peterborough Council, have raised this point, that is the price you pay." Needless to say the yellow press were swift to jump on his comments, with the Mail taking the opportunity to trot out the same old tired arguments about migration. He has since been notably ascent from the airwaves, thus avoiding an embarrassing explanation of his bizarre claim.

Pride of place in these massed PR responses surely goes to the letter to MPs from Home Office Minister Meg Hiller in response to press, and in particular the Guardian's, coverage of the Yarl's Wood hunger strike. Her basic argument is that 'you are all liars'. "The current misreporting, based on inaccurate and fabricated statements by those who campaign against our policy, is irresponsible as it causes unnecessary distress to the women at Yarl’s Wood, their family and friends and those who work at the Centre to ensure the detainees are treated with respect." [2]

She then goes on to repeat her own chosen set of 'untruths' such as "detention is only used when people have refused to leave the country voluntarily, despite support being offered for them to do so, and we have to enforce that removal", that the women are not in fact on hunger strike, that Yarl's Wood staff have never displayed any form of racist behaviour and that "detainees are treated with dignity and respect". Then as final icing on the top of this confection, we get: "The current misreporting, based on inaccurate and fabricated statements by those who campaign against our policy, is irresponsible as it causes unnecessary distress to the women at Yarl’s Wood, their family and friends and those who work at the Centre to ensure the detainees are treated with respect." [3]

[1] On the issue of the government's claims to be keeping up with its government-set targets, a Welsh whistle-blower has revealled just how the UKBA have massaged the figures to conjure up a 75% success rate for processing asylum claims within the target 6 month limit.
[2] Thereby repeating the same points that the UKBA had made about the Aynsley-Green report the week before, namely that it contained "factual inaccuracies" and that in some areas, it was "misguided and wrong." There is an interesting follow-up article in the Guardian about this very point.
[3] She is definitely at pains to point out the level and degree of 'respect' that the detainees are shown by the employees and sub-contractors of the UKBA. Possibly in the same way that the government are at pains to point out that MI5 are never complicit in torture?


Simon said...

Supposing that you do bring about your socialist utopia of mass immigration with 'no borders'; were will all these people be housed? The building of extra housing is causing a SERIOUS environmental problem to the UK's indigenous wildlife. What about the money for translations costs? The NHS spends £65 million on translations services. And schools? LEA's across the country are facing bankruptcy due to spending most of their budgets on translation services. No one is denying the fact that we have a legal and moral obligation to offer succour to GENUINE asylum seekers, but the 'no borders' campaign is ill-thought out, socialist insanity said...

OK Let's take your points one at a time:
1] We are not seeking a utopia, socialist or otherwise. As a network, No Borders is certainly part of the broad anti-capitalist spectrum, which does include some socialists, who are also often members of No Borders groups. If you are really interested in what our political standpoint is, rather than flogging your dead anti-immigration horse, then there are plenty of sources out there for you to educate yourself with.
2] No Borders is not campaigning for mass immigration, it is campaigning for the freedom of everybody, irrespective or wealth or origin to move around the globe (to migrate). We also seek an end to the bogus concept of the nation state, something that you clearly would never have thought about as the phrase "were will all these people be housed?" shows. The fear of 'the other' is a terrible thing. If you were born and lived in Spain say, would you be so worried a bout "were will all these people" moving there from the UK were going to be housed? We think not, unless your really are some sort of xenophobe.
3] There is no need to SHOUT to get your point across.
4] What 'indigenous' wildlife is this? Brown bears, wolves, the cave lion, reindeer, aurochs? House building is the least of the problems with the loss of UK habitat. In fact only 4% of the UK land mass is built on in any manner. Much more is occupied by managed estates, playgrounds of the rich and privileged or is owned by them to be used as a screen around their mansions to keep them from having to see the likes of you and me.
As an ecologist I would point out to you that 'nature' is in a state of constant flux, ever moving towards climax cultures and the inevitable consequence of that is that wildlife gets displaced to habitats that it can survive in. Unfortunately, most of what you call 'indigenous' (sic) wildlife (surely you mean native, indigenous is the sort of term the likes of the BNP use for people living in the country prior to some arbitrary point in time when they think that the population was 'all white') were either occupants of the primal forest of ancient Europe or have moved here from the near continent to fill niches opened up by the clearance of that forest. In fact the greatest on-going threat to 'native' species is two-fold: the continuing clearance of land for agricultural purposes (cutting down of trees, drainage of wetlands, etc.) and the breaking up of existing habitats by building of roads and, yes, new houses. But those new houses are then occupied by the well-off fleeing the urban areas for their own little piece of the idealised bucolic countryside whose gradual destruction they are actually participating in. The second is going to be the increasing threat of global warming, which will affect flora much more obviously than fauna, as it is less able to 'move' to survive. But then again all fauna rely on the flora at the bottom of the food chain, so there is little comfort for them in that.

cont:- said...

5] On the money front, the answer is very simple. Where do you think all this wealth that we in the West all enjoy? I know the apologists for rampant capitalism like to think it is all from the sweat of their own brows, but the truth is it is from the on-going rape and pillage of the rest of the world. Starting in the days of Empire and slavery and going onto the modern age of structural international debt, neo-liberal capitalism and multinational companies, the World Bank and IMF. Why is that a pair of trainers made in some Third World sweat shop is free to move from country to country along with the profits it sale makes yet the people who actually fabricated it (and I mean the people operating the machines, not the people that own those machines as they are wealthy enough to pass freely from country to country and live more or less where they please) is not free? Up until very recently that pair of trainers would not be so free and would have had trade barriers and tariffs placed on it. It was only the introduction of the wonderful world of neo-liberal free trade capitalism that allowed this to happen. In exactly the same way there were no restrictions on migration to the UK (other than the ability to pay your way) until 1905 Aliens Act, which was in direct response to proto-fascist agitation in the East End of London against Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe. Even then, it only applied to those coming from non-Empire countries and it wasn't until the '50s and the ability of those with the legal right to move to the UK started to do so and the racists and racists started to agitate against Commonwealth migrants that the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act was brought in to close that loophole. So you see, what you think of as the 'natural' state is not reflected by reality.
6] There is no such thing as a 'genuine' asylum seeker. Either you are an asylum seeker or you are not. What you mean by 'genuine' is someone who has been officially accepted i.e. granted refugee status, and as such the goal-post can and are continually moved to make it more and more difficult to past the 'threshold'. Then there is the ability to actually make it to the country of ones choice in which to seek that asylum, something that had always been a widely accepted principal but is now been lost - obviously it is OK to travel halfway round the globe to fight a war (war is the that will create hundreds of thousands of refugees but not for those refugees to travel in the opposite direction to seek protection. Now the fiction is that one should seek refuge in the 'safe first country', which is neat excuse for all those countries that do not get involved in a war with an immediate neighbour - great for Fortress Europe of course, though the refugees from ex-Yugoslavia in the '90s.

I certainly prefer my informed and rational 'insanity' to your ignorant and ill-thought out 'sanity' - another largely culturally based 'norm'.