The corporate press’s response to refugees crossing the English channel shows that little has changed in five years. That is right-wing politicians and tabloids continue to roll out the ‘migrant invasion’ narrative for their own purposes; ignoring the fact that many of these people are refugees and asylum seekers – and the part the UK has played in putting them in that position in the first place.
Let’s deal with the facts
BBC News reported that on Thursday 6 August, a record number of people came across the channel from France, with almost 4,000 making the journey so far this year. Thursday’s total was 235. But as the BBC said:
In 2019, some 677,000 people moved to the UK as long-term immigrants, for reasons such as work or study.
There were also 49,000 asylum applications.
As such, the 4,000 unauthorised Channel arrivals are equal to less than 1% of all immigrants last year.
And as it also noted, the number of UK asylum seekers is much lower than in European countries:
The number of asylum seekers arriving and applying to stay in other European nations is far, far higher than in the UK. Last year, some 165,600 sought asylum in Germany, 129,000 in France and 118,000 in Spain.
Don’t look here!
But if you were to believe the right-wing corporate press and alleged ‘politicians’ like Nigel Farage, you’d think there was an “invasion” happening (the Brexit Party leader’s words). A former Guardian journalist summed up the situation best. As he tweeted:
-55,000 dead in Pandemic
-Unemployment about to soar
-But look: migrants pic.twitter.com/u15zb5KPAq
— Paul Johnson (@paul__johnson) August 7, 2020
Yes, the right-wing front pages for the past few days have been dominated by the refugee situation. Of course, most of the commentary failed to acknowledge the obvious: that many people seeking refuge in the UK were coming from countries in chaos; chaos that our country has had a hand in.
As BBC News asked and then answered:
Where do the Channel migrants come from ?
In short, the poorest and most chaotic parts of the world. Recent arrivals have included entire families from Yemen, Eritrea, Chad, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq.
The UK has been involved in:
- Politically and physically, the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen.
- Eritrea, whose dictator Isaias Afwerki the UK historically welcomed over here quite happily; something we seem to have a habit of doing.
- Chad, whose chaos is being compounded by the Western-compounded maelstrom in Libya.
- Egypt and its military dictator general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – again, historically supported by the UK.
- The former British-controlled Sudan.
Meanwhile, little needs to be said about Iraq. Moreover, the BBC fails to even mention Syria – where Russian, US, and UK-aggravated chaos has forced over six million people to flee the country. The UK quite happily ruins other countries. But then it doesn’t want to deal with the consequences.
Here we go again
But writer Musa Okwonga also showed the other problem with the current media frenzy over the ‘illegal’ ‘migrants’. Because it’s nothing new:
The Sun described human beings like this as cockroaches while hundreds of them were drowning in the Mediterranean, and their managing editor at the time went on to claim three of the best jobs in UK media.
Nigel Farage isn't an outlier, he's the mainstream. https://t.co/TEb6er7kZQ
— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) August 8, 2020
Yet in a bizarre twist of irony, the Express screamed on 8 August that:
Brexit will NOT ‘make any difference’ in stopping migrants crossing English Channel
The tabloid rag, in amplifying Tory minister Nick Gibb, seemed to have forgotten its own front pages from 2016. Either that, or it was lying in the run-up to the EU referendum. Because wasn’t the UK’s ‘migrant’ ‘problem’ the EU’s fault?
So much for ‘taking back control of our borders’ – hey, Farage?
The current right-wing propaganda about refugees and migrants follows the same, well-worn pattern as it always has. In times of national crisis, or where certain politicians have agendas of their own, the corporate media dutifully play the ‘migrant’ card to keep much of the public’s anger aimed elsewhere. It’s no different now to how it was in the run-up to the EU referendum. And the right-wing tabloids sadly seem to still be getting away with it.
Featured image via Twitter – screengrab
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?