You know how it is, I take a Daily Express front page with thinly veiled racism
and then I look at the story itself and the use of terms like 'open-door policy', and 'critics', and 'foreign-speaking' and 'huge rise', and the use of MigrationWatch and immigration rentagob Damian Green, and complain about how this newspaper - among others - distances itself from the BNP while still happily trotting out the same old dog-whistles to help you read between the lines, in case you were in any doubt.
But this isn't going to be a post about that. This is a post about something else I've seen today, in the Labour Party manifesto for the general election
and the handy packaging-together of 'crime and immigration', as if they were subjects that you just couldn't separate and which needed to be put in a section together.
Oh come now, the Labour cheerleaders will come out and say, that's not fair: you can see in the manifesto the way that there's clear delineation, and it's not as if anyone's trying to conflate the issues. But I'm sorry, I just don't buy that. Why is 'crime' lumped in with 'securing our borders'? Why couldn't chapter 5 have been about crime, and chapter 6 about immigration?
Or perhaps there's another title that would have been a better catch-all than 'crime and immigration': they could simply have called the chapter 'FEAR!!" in big capital letters with a couple of massive exclamation marks. Maybe they could have put a skull and crossbones as the graphic instead of a sunburst, and they could have done it in blood red instead of orange: you know, really gone for it, rather than just dancing around the daisies, as they have done here. And why stop there? Why not invite Rod Liddle to write chapter 5 and get him to recycle his fact-free drivel about most street crime being people from an Afro-Caribbean background? Come on Labour, if you want to sound the dog-whistle, let's do it nice and loudly! Don't be shy now, there's an election at stake!
The use of the term 'newcomers' is something I find a bit grim, but maybe that's just me. Hey, maybe you've got to fight a bit dirty to win an election and maybe I'm just being terribly naive.
The thing I find most agonising about this whole business, though, is how the tabloid agenda, the fear agenda, has been met by politicians. There's a fear of crime, regardless of whether crime is going up or down, or whether people who fear the most are most at risk of crime or not; there's a fear of the impact of immigration, whether it's justified or not. Instead of meeting these things head-on, and challenging the perceptions, Labour cravenly just whimpers in the face of the tabloid agenda and lumps in crime with immigration and makes it clear that they're all about 'securing our borders'.
It's almost an admission of defeat. It's an admission that the argument has long since been lost, if it was ever fought in the first place - immigration and crime make people scared, so we have to make policies based on fear rather than reality. What a dispiriting thing to think.
Further reading: Hagley Road to Ladywood - BNP launch their own dailies
- Should racist bastard rabid reactionary cuntwads who post on Express Have Your Say messageboards be killed and their heads placed on spikes?
- EXPRESS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL BAD JOURNALISM
- Express and ‘ethnics’: Now the veil has gone
- More Express awfulness
- It’s worth bothering to get angry at Express scum