Thursday, July 30, 2009

Asylum seekers: the political punchbag

Look how the Daily Mail is reporting that "overly generous" handouts will be reduced from £42 to £35 a week.

I have a lot to learn. I thought that the news that asylum seekers handouts are going to be slashed to £35 a week wasn't going to fit the Daily Mail's narrative.

How wrong and how naive. I underestimated how news can be turned on its head to further build up on the 'scrounger' myth.

Here's the depressing background. Unless you lived on another planet, you may have overheard the notion that foreigners are taking over.

According to Britain's tabloids, an unspecified concoction of legal and illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, Eastern Europeans and 'foreigners' are all coming here and being showered with "[F]ree houses, free cars, free healthcare and free money".

Like George Orwell famously said: a lie told often enough becomes truth. Courtesy of the daily "outrageous" claims perpetrated by the Sun, the Express, the Daily Mail and the Titty Star, most people have come to believe that asylum seekers all live in gold-plated palaces surrounded by fleets of free cars and paid for with the money that Daily Mail readers were going to spend on their new patio.

The reality is somewhat different. Up until today, asylum seekers -who we must remember are not allowed to seek work- had to survive on a staggering £42.16 a week. Gasping for oxygen, the Government decided to pick on the most obvious political punchbag and announced that the handout will be slashed to £35.13 a week.

That the Daily Mail are incapable of reporting as it is. What they write instead is: "Payouts to asylum seekers are to be slashed after immigration chiefs admitted they had been too generous", along with the outright lie that "'bribes' of £1,700 [are] offered - in a joint project with France - to induce migrants in camps near Calais to return to their home countries".

Similarly, the Express - normally plastered in headlines about foreign freeloaders- sports a rickety mini-article that goes "Asylum pay to be cut" with the added bit that, at £42.16, "payments were too generous", and not a hint of irony on their part.


Chris Baldwin said...

The journalists who write these articles are, to be frank, bad bad people.

socialistsam said...


Helen Highwater said...

And some of the public believe them. My mum (a Telegraph reader) said to me the other day, "A friend of mine is selling a car and some foreigner turned up with an interpreter and he was an asylum seeker and we're paying for the car for him."

And I said, "Are you sure? I can't imagine on what grounds someone, anyone, would be given a free car."

"Oh, but they give these people everything for free! This foreigner asylum seeker was using a mobile phone! It's political correctness! We're a soft touch! It amazes me!"

Well yes, it is amazing, because it simply isn't true. It makes no sense. If every asylum seeker was automatically given a free car, wouldn't the country be heaving under the weight of people desperate for their free Fiat Panda? It wouldn't be financially viable anyway, and surely if someone's on less than £40 a week, how on earth would they be able to maintain a car?

I can't understand where they got the impression that the person buying the car was an asylum seeker, unless to some people anyone who's foreign is automatically an asylum seeker. Person who can't speak English buying car = asylum seeker being bought the car by the taxpayer. It may be that the bloke was an exiled politician or something and so a decision was made that he needed the car to get about, but it's just nonsense that asylum seekers, every last one them, gets a free car on arriving in the UK. It's amazing that people will actually believe this bilge rather than go, "are you quite sure that you didn't get the wrong end of the stick?"

And who do we have to blame for this nonsense? The right-wing press. You can no longer express sympathy for refugees fleeing violence and terror because readers of certain papers will tell you that they get free cars, paid for by "us".