How easily does extreme right-wing discourse slip into the way the media frames the world? Answer: Very easily.
The BBC website has a report on the argument by the Refugee Council that the UK should take some responsibility to grant asylum for vulnerable residents – children -of the squatter camp at Calais.
They are talking about children. Children who are living in a squatter camp. I think that qualifies as a humanitarian issue. Surely all our media hysteria about risks to children should also apply here?
But, in the interests of “balance”, presumably, the BBC gives at least an equal space to the views of Migration Watch, who carefully seek to redefine this issue to ignore the “children” bit. After a load of unchallenged nonsense such as an assertion that 80% of people who say the word “asylum” are admitted to the UK, their spokesman says
“You have to look at the system as a whole, you can’t just say there are vulnerable children” (from the BBC)
Now, I’m already on semiotic alert by the BBC’s description of this squatter camp as
the camp known as “the jungle”
And lo, there is a sidebar with links to previous BBC articles about this camp.
UK turns down ‘jungle migrants’ 18 Sep 09 | Europe
France to close migrant ‘jungle’ 16 Sep 09 | Europe
Migrant squalor in Calais ‘jungle’ 02 Jul 09 | UK
UN to help advise Calais refugees 01 Jul 09 | UK
Was a decision taken in early July to use the “jungle” word? Hmm, does that mean that it’s full of Africans? Yes, I believe it does. Jungle is a pretty loaded word. It arrives carrying echoes of the racist ideas that supported colonialism. That’s why we now say “rainforest”.
I don’t have a problem with calling the “rainforest” the “jungle”. However, I do have serious problems with the BBC calling a refugee camp a “jungle,” given that I don’t believe that trees and parrots are over-represented in the Calais camp.
And what is MigrationWatch? Surely that must be an organisation with equal credibility to the Refugee Council, given that it’s accorded equal billing by the BBC? Well, maybe it’s just me but I rather think not.
Its website says that
We are an independent, voluntary, non political body which is concerned about the present scale of immigration into the UK.
Let’s say “concerned” is putting it mildly. The word “rabid” would probably fill the bill better. Here are the first 3 of what they call “key facts”:
Net immigration has quadrupled since 1997 to 237,000 a year.
A migrant now arrives nearly every minute.
We must build a new home every six minutes for new migrants.
They have a press page where they record their appearances in the media: (When I say “their” I am not convinced that “they” exist far beyond their spokestwat, but that may be wishful thinking)
Bear with me while I paste in their media triumphs over the past couple of years. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph are the favoured platforms – until the BBC started to see their glorious leader as a spokesman:
Migrant housing figures, Letter in The Daily Telegraph 25 July, 2009
Turks increasingly turn to Islamic extremism: Al Qaeda’s reliance on Arabs is altering as recruits from Turkey and Turkic-speaking areas of Central Asia form a recent wave of trainees, experts (sic) say.
By Sebastian Rotella Los Angeles Times – 20-Jul-2009
At last, the truth about immigration and council house queue jumping
By Andrew Green The Daily Mail, London – 30-Jun-2009
Statisticians are right to publish and be damned By Sir Andrew Green,
The Times – 12-Feb-2009
We must create a culture of solidarity, not offer amnesties
Editorial from The Catholic Herald 28-Nov-2008
How many more people can our small island take? As population heads towards 70 million has the penny dropped for Labour? by Sir Andrew Green The Daily Mail – 19-Nov-2008
Devastating demolition of the case for mass immigration by Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, The Daily Mail – 01-Apr-2008
Immigration is making matters worst (sic) Letter by Sir Andrew Green
The Surrey Advertiser – 07-Dec-2007
Hold back the immigrant flood By Sir Andrew Green,
The Sunday Times – 04-Nov-2007
‘We must act now to cut immigrant numbers’ Commentary by Sir Andrew Green, The Daily Telegraph – 24-Oct-2007
Plus this “1 Sep 2009 … Sir Andrew Green was interviewed on the Today Programme at 8.35 this morning about the asylum seekers’ camp near Calais”
Who is Sir Andrew Green and why are his views so much more worthy of media attention than, say, mine? A Guardian profile from 2005 says his friends are unanimous that he’s not a a racist. Oh, well, that must be OK, then.
Apparently, he can’t be a racist, because he was British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia…….
The portrait that emerges from those who know Sir Andrew is of a shy, private individual, “a right old Tory, Daily Telegraph reader”, and also a “very religious” man who held regular evangelical meetings at the British embassy in Riyadh. (from the Guardian, 4 Nov 2005)
A very religious man. LOL Regular evangelical sessions.. Double LOL. Why am I not surprised that this right-wing figurehead for an ugly ideology is also an “evangelical Christian”? Indeed, “suffer the little children” may have become his new watchword, if we consider his Calais stance.
Just to show exactly how “unracist” the former ambassador is:
The row offered Sir Andrew an opportunity to renew his argument on the BBC’s Today programme, when he said: “We have no problem with immigration from Poland, which is valuable to all sides.” (from the Guardian, 4 Nov 2005)
So Eastern Europeans are OK?
But. almost all the migration to the UK that makes up the numbers that Migration Watch presents (e.g UK supposedly needs to build a house every 6 minutes for migrants) is from EC countries. This apparently doesn’t worry “Migration Watch”.
Shouldn’t they call it “Non-white Migration Watch” and have done with it, then? Clearly not, because even the BBC would then have problems presenting Sir Andrew Green’s views on its main pages, in the name of balance.