How the British press objects to immigration by recycling the same stereotypes


11:53 am - November 28th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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Labour MP Tom Harris has an article today in the Telegraph titled ‘Object to mass immigration from the EU? Join the Romaphobe club!‘.

You know what the article is going to say before you even read the first line. It will appeal to and be detested by the usual suspects. Although, in this case, Harris is attracting criticism even from the right.

I won’t go over the entire piece. There are the usual stereotypes…

But a consistent pattern of complaints took shape quite early on: filthy and vastly overcrowded living arrangements, organised aggressive begging, the ghetto-isation of local streets where women no longer feel safe to walk due to the presence of large groups of (workless) men, the rifling through domestic wheelie bins by groups of women pushing oddly child-free prams, and a worrying increase in the reporting of aggressive and violent behavior in local schools.

…and the usual straw man:

It’s simply not good enough for our leaders to say that it’s all right to talk about immigration, and then when they do exactly that, to call them bigots when they think no one’s listening.

Memo: the problem isn’t talking about immigration, the problem is the deliberately negative stereotypes.

There’s nothing new about how Tom Harris MP scapegoats and scaremongers about immigrants.

I took part in a debate recently on media portrayals of Asian immigration from Uganda during the 70s.

Guess what – the stereotypes are astonishingly similar.

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(images courtesy of the National Archive).

The funny thing is, these days the Tories are always hailing the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of Ugandan Asians.

There was a similar gaggle of Labour MPs then too arguing for a race to the bottom on the subject.

How quickly people forget history.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Never mind the xenophobic British press, try this:

Bob Rowthorn, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge, has fairly impeccable “leftist” credentials. He set out years back his assessment of the economic effects of immigration:

“The injection of large numbers of unskilled workers into the economy does not benefit the bulk of the population to any great extent. It benefits the nanny-and housecleaner-using classes; it benefits employers who want to pay low wages; but it does not benefit indigenous, unskilled Britons, who have to compete with immigrants willing to work hard for very low wages in unpleasant working conditions.”

Professor Rowthorn is author of several books, including: Capitalism, Conflict and Inflation (Lawrence Wishart, 1980). His analysis of the effects of large scale immigration are expanded on in this study: The Economic Impact of Immigration (2004):
http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/Rowthorn_Immigration.pdf

As for the impact of immigration on employment in low-skill jobs, from the BBC website in May 2011:

The number of low-skilled workers born outside the UK more than doubled between 2002 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures show that almost 20% of low-skilled jobs are held by workers born abroad, up from 9% in 2002.

Workers coming to the UK from eastern or central European countries were the biggest single factor in the rise.

Memorandum submitted by Professor Rowthorn to the HoL Select Committee on Economic Affairs for the Committee’s report on The Economic Impact of Immigration:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/82/7100902.htm

It was the same with the Kenya Asians too (late 60s IIRC). Wilson was given an almighty panning by the why-oh-why part of the press for “letting them in”.

It was a self defeating move by the authorities in Kenya and Uganda to kick out that part of its population that was best disposed to work hard, build up businesses and thereby generate employment for the wider community.

Good for the UK ultimately, mind.

“Good for the UK ultimately, mind.”

Compare this item in the news:

Student loans: thousands of Europeans ‘failing to repay debts’

The National Audit Office warns that the total university student loans bill will balloon to £200bn within 30 years as it emerges that thousands of EU students are avoiding repayments
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10479178/Student-loans-thousands-of-Europeans-failing-to-repay-debts.html

And compare the reports in the Guardian on the returns from the 2011 Population Census:

“London’s population up by 12% in 10 years: The capital’s population growth is the fastest in the country according to 2011 census figures”

“Around half of the residents of England and Wales who were born outside the UK last arrived in the UK between 2001 and 2011. The largest increase in non-UK born population was in London, where over a third of residents were born abroad [37pc] and almost a quarter were not British nationals.”

As John Cleese said: “London is no longer an English city.” But that seems to have done wonders for schooling standards in London:

“London schools have improved so rapidly over the past 10 years that even children in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods can expect to do better than the average pupil living outside the capital.” [Financial Times, 13 January 2013]

5. Kenth Gustafsson

Tom Harris is obviously a racist bigot just like an awful lot of other people, who all always claim: “I am not a racist, but…”. I cant think of anything better to say than to simply copy and paste (if I may) what a commenter – Michael Purkis – said 15 hours ago underneath Harris’ article in the DT. Simply brilliant! – here, here:

“Where are your data to back up the statements made in your article? If we are to use personal experience masquerading as fact then here is mine. I have lived in Ibrox and have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse from white Rangers fans when asking them to refrain from urinating in my close. I have put up with your small-minded Orange Order bigots drumming their hatred into our community. I now live in Govanhill with my young family among the very Roma which you vilify in this article. They are unwaveringly polite, friendly, family-centred people who work hard doing the packing, plucking and picking jobs which your fellow countrymen thumb their noses at. You, as a representative of ALL of the people in Glasgow South should be wholly ashamed of this divisive article. Shame on you.”

And so, I agree wholeheartedly and can only repeat: Shame on you Tom Harris, shame on you.

What’s new?

“There have been almost 1,300 racist incidents in Scottish schools in the past two years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.” [BBC website 18 August 2013]

Where else would 20,000 turn out for an annual sectarian march to celebrate the outcome of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 between the armies of James II and William of Orange as rival claimants to the English throne?

“Up to 20,000 marchers took part in annual Orange Order parades in Glasgow and Coatbridge. About 125 parades joined with two main parades in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Marchers, followers and spectators had been urged to leave ‘booze and bad behaviour behind’. Police Scotland said 46 people were arrested for minor disorder offences.” [BBC website 7 July 2013]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-23203376

“A new report claims Scotland has a higher murder rate than America. The UN says it’s the ‘most violent place in the developed world’. ” [Guardian report 20 October 2005]

“Police in Aberdeen are investigating a racially motivated assault on a man wearing an England shirt. Keith Brazier, 29, was attacked by a group of youths at 2030 BST on Saturday outside a supermarket on Union Street.” [BBC website 3 July 2006]

Etc etc. Try a Google search on the numbers of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland as compared with the rest of Britain.

7. Churm Rincewind

@ BobB (6) – Certainly Scotland has a widely acknowledged problem with sectarianism. But I’m not quite sure what the connection is with immigration into the UK from EU member states?

Stereotypes apart, one immigrant family I’m aware of produced an economics graduate who prolonged his adolescence into his 30s by ‘editing’ on benefits a left-wing blog, before taking up an utterly redundant part-time post at a fourth-rate ‘university’….Ah, the economic benefits of immigration!

8

Oh dear, your resentment at being denied a university education is clearly getting too much for you, perhaps you need to seek out some therapy.

7
“Certainly Scotland has a widely acknowledged problem with sectarianism. But I’m not quite sure what the connection is with immigration into the UK from EU member states?”

Scotland doesn’t have only a recognised problem with Sectarianism. Try: “A serious assault on two Polish men in the Scottish Borders is being treated as ‘racially motivated’, police said.” [BBC website April 2013]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-22342673

“Increased levels of Islamophobia and negative attitudes towards Polish people could be behind a 20% rise in racist incidents in Scotland, experts have said.

“Every day in Scotland, 17 people are abused, threatened or violently attacked because of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or nationality.

“Statistics showed that 6171 incidents of racism were recorded in 2009/10 – a rise of 20.4% from the 5123 racist incidents recorded in 2008/9.” [STV News 11 February 2011]

What happened to the Roman IX Legion in c. 117AD?

“The disappearance of Rome’s Ninth Legion has long baffled historians, but could a brutal ambush have been the event that forged the England-Scotland border, asks archaeologist Dr Miles Russell, of Bournemouth University.

“One of the most enduring legends of Roman Britain concerns the disappearance of the Ninth Legion.

“The theory that 5,000 of Rome’s finest soldiers were lost in the swirling mists of Caledonia, as they marched north to put down a rebellion, forms the basis of a new film, The Eagle, but how much of it is true?”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12752497

The question is was the Legion turned into haggis?

In 1745 on 4 December, the Jacobite army of Charles Stewart, entered Derby. The question was whether the army would march on London only just over 100 miles further south and lightly defended? Fortunately, after a vote among the clan leaders, the Jacobite army retreated from Derby on 6 December and returned north, back to Scoltand.

This was not what Charles Stewart had wanted. He wanted to continue the march on to London to overthrow the Hanoverians on the throne of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and take the throne back for the Stewarts. But that was not to be.

For the narrative of what happened to the Jacobite Army of Prince Charles after its retreat from Derby starting on 6 December 1745, try John Snow’s fascinating documentary for BBCTV on: Culloden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUc-_e6pdag

Culloden in April 1746 was the last land battle on British soil.

In the light of the history, is this stereotyping?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LnVIo3Bwzs

Media stereotyping of immigrants is about scapegoating for the most part. A percentage of the public imagines immigrants are responsible for taking jobs, housing… or simply view them in more general terms as a threat.

News outlets that believe they reflect “what the public thinks” are invariably off-target when it comes to the stats or have chosen to cynically engage in spin. Sites such as the Daily Mail can be really crass about it. The Mail’s coverage of Maria, the blonde child who had allegedly been sold to a Roma couple in Greece is an example of their approach. They must have searched for the most extreme images of Roma they could find – suggestive of an attempt to profile the group in as negative a light as possible.

Stereotyping is all around us and can hardly be avoided.

Motor insurance companies stereotype in response to competitive pressures when the companies classify young drivers as high risk, meriting high insurance premiums for cover, and older drivers as low risk thereby deserving lower premiums.

All those healthcare warnings about obesity increasing the personal risk of developing dementia and cancer amount to stereotyping. Ethic Afro-Caribbeans are more susceptible to sickle-cell anaemia than other ethnic groups.

What of those ethnic group league tables for 16 year-olds eligible for free school meals achieving 5 good GCSE?

Last year, just a quarter of poor white British boys gained five good GCSEs.

This compared with around four-in-10 deprived boys from black families, half of those from Asian backgrounds and almost two-thirds of poor Chinese teenagers.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10501588/Ofsted-warns-over-wasted-potential-of-poor-white-pupils.html

In the news:

Nature trumps nurture in exam success: GCSE results are ‘mainly determined by genes,’ says landmark study of twins

Researchers from King’s College London found that genetic differences account for 58 per cent of the differences between pupils’ GCSE exam scores – while environment (home or school) only accounted for 29 per cent. They also found boys’ results were more likely to reflect their genes than girls.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/nature-trumps-nurture-in-exam-success-gcse-results-are-mainly-determined-by-genes-says-landmark-study-of-twins-8998782.html

17

Interesting article, however, it is now well known that the dna of identical twins can differ considerably also congenital changes can occur.
Unfortunately the article does not signpost the original research so we don’t know if the research on fraternal twins was same sex or not, gender is a significan variable.

18

Illuminating aspect to the nature v nurture debate: “The outcome depends on where you live”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9326819/Nature-vs-nurture-outcome-depends-on-where-you-live.html

There is the continuing puzzle as to why London schools are doing so well when 37pc of London residents were born abroad according to the 2011 Census:

“London schools have improved so rapidly over the past 10 years that even children in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods can expect to do better than the average pupil living outside the capital.” [Financial Times, 13 January 2013]

After all the shouting, what is immigration really about? Being nice to poor people? I see no evidence of that when dealing with the indigenous poor already in the UK. A love of multiculturalism? Hmmm, isn’t it strange the liberal Left Middle classes always go on about multiculturalism and integration when they themselves live in prosperous usually all white suburbs and affluent villages with few if any Working class people, Black or Asian people, and precious immigrants?!! Immigration is about two things: cheap labour and as a wage control mechanism to keep wages constantly low for the poor, whether immigrants or indigenous Working class people. That’s all it’s about, economics.

20

“Hmmm, isn’t it strange the liberal Left Middle classes always go on about multiculturalism and integration when they themselves live in prosperous usually all white suburbs and affluent villages with few if any Working class people.”

In the road in a London suburb where I live, there’s a Chinese couple living opposite. Their neighbours, who I know better, are an African family whose daughters attend a local maintained selective girls school which achieves excellent A-level results. The neighbourhood is thoroughly multi-racial and probably multicultural as well, for all I know, as befits London where only 45pc of the resident population are white, British born. Btw I was born in Lambeth before WW2.

For ethnic mix by local authority in England based on the Census 2011, try this Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_districts_and_their_ethnic_composition

Looking down the numbers, there are an awfully large number of local authority districts where white residents amounted to over 95 pc of the local population. Anyone averse to the ethnic diversity of London is spoilt for choice as to other places to move to. No one seems keen to suggest reasons as to why schools in London do so well as compared with other places.

20

It is a mistake to assume that all immigrants are poor and working-class, most of the medical staff in the NHS are neither poor or form part of the so-called ‘working class’ and if we include gender, – there are more female Asian doctors than white female.

Agreed that the working class, whether indigenous or immigrant, are exploited.

21

I’ve just had a quick look at the ‘A’ level results for 2013 and can only see 5 London schools in the top 100.

Yes Bob B, but that is London. In many other cities, towns and villages, the affluent white populace tend to be in mostly white suburbs away from the poorer white Working class and away from mostly Black and Asian people too. That is reality. It’s not that integration or multiculturalism is necessarily a bad thing at all, I grew up in a very cosmopolitan downtown neighbourhood, but poor, in a quintessentially Working class city and had, and have, Black friends, Asian friends, Jewish friends and many mostly mixed race friends and acquaintances too. The suburbs however tend to be mostly white. The integration as it is, is often forced on people or expected of people, and some agree and some do not. And some want to integrate and some do not. Not all white Working class people are friendly, but not all Middle class white people are friendly, and not all immigrants are friendly either. As I said, immigration is now about cheap labour for the Middle class and wealthy business people to exploit and make more money. And who cares about the Working class here, whatever their ethnicity? The problem is, there is no open and frank debate on this, and do you know why? Because very quickly many people will say the same things as me; that immigration is about cheap labour and exploitation. Nothing more, nothing less.

SteveB; I never said immigrants where poor and Working class, but many of them may indeed have degrees and good quals and lots of experience, but can end up in factories or cleaning jobs or unskilled low paid labour like that. I have 2 degrees myself but apply for kitchen porter and crap jobs myself, such is this labour market.

“I’ve just had a quick look at the ‘A’ level results for 2013 and can only see 5 London schools in the top 100.”

Try: A-level results 2013: results from 400 state schools
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/leaguetables/10246791/A-level-results-2013-results-from-400-state-schools.html

I counted at least over a dozen London schools in the top 400. For some totally obscure reason(s), five schools in that list located in the borough where I live have been classified as located in “Surrey” or Carshalton, not London.

Also, outstanding schools in Kingston-on-Thames in the list are not shown as London and there could be more cases where top schools have not been classified as London schools even though the boroughs where the schools are located are London boroughs.

The girls from the African family on the opposite side of the road where I live go to the school at No 29. My son went to the school at No 22 – as did Chris Woodhead, the notorious chief inspector of schools when Blunkett was the New Labour education minister.

TM: “Yes Bob B, but that is London. In many other cities, towns and villages, the affluent white populace tend to be in mostly white suburbs away from the poorer white Working class and away from mostly Black and Asian people too. ”

That is often the consequence of where council housing estates were built just before or after WW2 or where the estates of low-cost terraced housing was built in Victorian or Edwardian times initially for renting out.

Social class segregation preceded ethnic segregation by decades. There are large council estates in London – the two largest estates, built in the mid to late 1930s, being in Dagenham and the London borough where I live – but London is mostly hugely diversified: 37pc of residents were born abroad. I travel around by public transport and it’s soon obvious that many dozens of languages are in daily use in London. By EU stats, London is one of the most affluent urban areas in the EU.

According to the website of the school my son attended, about half the students are from ethnic minorities.

The fact is, as the link to the Wikipedia entry @21 shows, the white population in dozens of districts in England amount to over 90pc of the resident population.

28. douglas clark

It is a tad sad that Bobby Boy B gets to spout rubbish hereabouts.

Anyway, I’d like a search option back on Pickled Politics, ’cause I wrote a bit for you on a Leonard Cohen song and some guy pointed out a – I think german version – which won a watch.

28
“It is a tad sad that Bobby Boy B gets to spout rubbish hereabouts.”

Predictably, ad hominem abuse without analytical rebuttal.

For festive news without an ethnic dimension, try:

Hungry in Cameron’s Cotswolds: Beyond the 4x4s and classy shops of the PM’s own constituency, a food bank is alarmingly busy
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hungry-in-camerons-cotswolds-beyond-the-4x4s-and-classy-shops-of-the-pms-own-constituency-a-food-bank-is-alarmingly-busy-9020229.html

FWIW, I share this perspective – taken from a review in the Guardian of a recently published book by Paul Collier: “Exodus” (Allen Lane):

“The former World Bank economist, who now advises presidents and prime ministers, thinks people are focusing on the wrong question. He says the key issue is not whether the impact of immigration is good or bad – although if pressed, he would come down on the side of good. He argues, instead, that we should focus on how much migration there should be and, more interestingly, who it really helps.”
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/17/exodus-immigration-multiculturalism-paul-collier-review

31. themadmullahofbricklane

I see you are selling, or rather recycling, the same old product Sunny it’s just that nobody is buying it. I am surprised that you haven’t gone back to the British League of Brothers at the end of the nineteenth century when they campaigned against Jewish immigration or the nineteen thirties and Cable Street, always got to have a Nazi in there somewhere eh?

Britain in 1970 isn’t Britain now even though people who deal in stereotypes and cliches like yourself have yet to realise it. There was hostility to the arrival of the East African Asians because it wasn’t realised at the time that they were business people, administrators and professionals who quickly established themselves in industry and the professions. Unlike then we know what is coming and it is going to be a drain on our already overstretched services.

We are talking about people who are already at the bottom of the pile economically in their own countries and can contribute nothing to ours.

We realise that you have to write something to fill up your blog Sunny but you really are making a fool of yourself with this one. You’re not even going to get a nomination as a local councillor never mind long listed for an MP at this rate.

“There was hostility to the arrival of the East African Asians because it wasn’t realised at the time that they were business people, administrators and professionals who quickly established themselves in industry and the professions.”

As one who was involved in local debates in the 1970s over the admission to Britain of East African Asians, it was known that they were mainly traders, business and professional people because that was the very reaon for their benighted expulsions from the countries in which they had settled, often at the instance of Britain as the colonial power in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It has been known for several years that Romanian and Bulgarians, as EU citiziens, would be entitled to come to Britain in January to live and work. The motivation for the present “panic” over immigration IMO has more to do with distracting attention away from unwelcome “festive news” this Christmas by fanning a bout of xenophobia.

“Even in a recovering economy, Christians, the servants of a vulnerable and poor saviour, need to act to serve and love the poor; they need also to challenge the causes of poverty,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Christmas sermon.

More than one million over 65s in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, according to new figures released by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The study shows:

A quarter (22%) of older people in the UK have had to make cut-backs on food over the past three years.
More than one million are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition because they are struggling to afford basic nutritious food.

Average annual food bill for over 65s will rise by an additional £297 by the end of 2018 – more than any other demographic.

Single pensioners on the lowest incomes will have seen the most dramatic percentage rise in their winter food bill since 2008. [ITV news]

According to research published on Friday, almost 60,000 London families face the threat of losing their homes this Christmas.
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=23854

As David Cameron has repeatedly claimed, George Osborne’s austerity policy is working. We are now able to see the predictable consequences.

Britain’s GDP has still not got back to where it was in 2008Q1 and average disposable incomes in real terms are back at the level of 2004.

33. douglas clark

Bobby B,

Not interested in your statistics. They are what you get by voting Tory all your life. Which might not be true of you, but appears to be true of your nation.

We have a chance, no more than that, to get rid of Trident, get rid of Cameron, get rid of you, dear friend.

I think the statistics might be a tad different in an independent Scotland.

We are not, currently, winning that according to the opinion polls, but, I trust you will wish us a fair wind to our independence. For truth, you will be well rid of us, and our ridiculous desire to leave Westminster behind.

Or you are lying to us.

Best wishes.

34. douglas clark

I absoultely loved Pickled Politics. I thought it was a great place.

It was getting stale, I’ll admit that, but it was a heck of a lot more interesting than Liberal Conspirancy.

The btl comments were fun.

I think abandoning that was just wrong Sunny.

Just sayin’

I’d like to re-open it if you didn’t mind?

It would not exactly be a tribute act, but it would be a place for people that were influenced by you could meet.

The usual suspects. All of whom I respected or loved.

I miss them. They were my friends.

Sad int’it?

Douglas Clark: “Not interested in your statistics. They are what you get by voting Tory all your life.”

That’s a straight forward and demonstrable lie and one which shows you haven’t a clue about my views or about statistics relevant to present issues. For starters, I’ve been a regular and persistent critic of Osborne’s austerity policies since 2010, which hardly makes me a loyal supporter of the present Coalition Government.

Many months back, I posted that I regard Trident renewal as irrelevant to both external – and internal – threats to our security. Nuclear weapons were an appropriate counter threat to the prospect of a Soviet Blitzkrieg attack with armour across the North German Plain but are useless in dealing with fourth generation wars – as France learned in Algeria in the 1950s and America learned in Vietnam in the 1970s.

America’s nuclear arsenal didn’t prevent 9/11 in 2001 or the previous terrorist bombing of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998. And our nuclear missiles on submarines did prevent the 7/7 atrocity in London in 2005. Fortunately, the coalition government came round to taking seriously the possibility of cyber warfare – a threat I mentioned here a long time back:

Britain plans cyber strike force – with help from GCHQ [Guardian September 2013]
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/defence-and-security-blog/2013/sep/30/cyber-gchq-defence


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