Is migration rhetoric slipping into state sponsored harassment?

By Teena Lashmore

The Home Office’s “Immigrants Go Home Campaign” has come under the scrutiny of many over the last few weeks, including the Advertising Standards Association.

The public display of mobile billboards advertising arrest figures of ‘illegal immigrants’ along with text messaging services to help them surrender themselves to the Home Office or departure lounge for deportation, is condemned by Bishops, faith leaders, charities as well as by the ‘every day citizen’.

A picture of the Home offices go home van
The Home Office immigration van has sparked criticism and been branded racist. Photograph: jcw001/Photobucket

In fact, it is fare to say that the coalition and the main opposition parties’ attempt to go one better than UKIP on immigration matters is turning into a very expensive and ‘unpopular’ exercise.

Even UKIP’s leader, and arguably one of the many spin doctors of anti migrant rhetoric, Nigel Farage has also complained that the advertisements are too nasty.

The far right are no doubt feeling very snug and rubbing their hands with glee, as not only is the Home Office’s campaign being funded by the tax payer, but the migration debates are being pushed further and further into the anti migrant rhetoric: everything that is wrong or has gone wrong in Great Britain, from its failing economic systems to its lack of community cohesion, is attributable to uncontrolled migration.

The reality is of course less sensational and arguably more mundane.  Our country’s finances have always had cycles of failure because this is built into the economic systems that run them.  This has nothing to do with migrants or even people but everything to do with currencies, debt and credit.  This is why financial downturns happen to countries even when there is no migration!

Gordon Brown’s jingoist message: ‘British Jobs for British People’ illustrates one of the many misunderstandings about migration. The numbers coming in to the UK are roughly corresponding with those leaving; therefore, if Mr Brown’s position was taken globally, we would eventually see many of us being denied the experiences and opportunities of migrating and working in other countries.

That we have more migrants than other EU countries is another fallacy.  For cases claiming asylum, we are ranked 14 out of 27 European countries.  In fact, in 2012, as estimated by the United Nations, some 80% of the ‘massive population shifts’ took place in the developing worlds and not GB.

That we know the evidence is largely unsupportive of the anti migration rhetoric doesn’t appear to stop the debate hitting our mainstream media.  That undisputed evidence notes that Britain’s ‘industrial success’ is precisely because of its migration history, is also lost on some news coverage.  That our politicians continue to ignore the failing systems of migration and instead pushes the public’s gaze onto individual people and implying many are illegal, is highly disingenuous.

As empty mini buses continue to be driven through London Boroughs, where established histories of integration and migration are common place, one cannot help but ask, given that the evidence is largely to the contrary, is the Home Office’s campaign bordering on ‘state sponsored harassment?’.

Teena Lashmore is a criminologist working and guest blogger for Great British Community.

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Link Up (UK) or any employee thereof. Link Up (UK) is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Link Up (UK) to “malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

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