At last they admit: the tabloids have damaged Britain

So, now I've had a better look at 'Our shared future', plus the Mail and the Express's coverage of it. Both papers misrepresent the report quite a bit, with the Express, as ever, giving the most exaggerated and distorted version of the report. The Daily Mail's version is now 'Culture briefing packs will teach immigrants how to queue', with the previous headline 'Billions spent on immigrants is driving communities apart' relegated to a subheading, and the Express's version is 'RACIAL TENSION IS BUBBLING - ADMIT MINISTERS AT LAST', which fits nicely with the front page splash 'At last they admit: Immigration has damaged Britain'.

No 'they' don't

Obsolete has a great fisk of the Express's version already, so much of what I could say would be unnecessarily reproducing it, badly. Have a look. But it is worth repeating that both the Express headlines are utter, utter nonsense, and bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to what the report actually says. Far from saying that immigration has damaged Britain, the report actually says:
Although as a nation we can see the benefits of immigration, some people are concerned about its impacts in their local area – we need to address this [emphasis mine]
The majority of the evidence available points to migrants being a critical part of the UK’s current economic success.
Does it look like the report is saying immigration has damaged Britain? Does it really?

It also says:

There is no doubt that migrants have changed Britain, and that most people think this is a good thing – another MORI Poll from August 2005 found that 62% of people thought multiculturalism made Britain a better place to live, for example. And 58% of people surveyed in our January 2007 MORI poll agreed that immigrants make Britain more open to new ideas and cultures.
What the report does mention is people's perception of immigration, which is something the Express is keen to mention, saying:
It showed that nearly two thirds of people now believe too many immigrants have been allowed into the UK.
This is incredibly disingenuous. Because while the report does say that, it has explained the context of the situation with the quotes above, and it immediately follows up by pointing out that many of these people have a distorted and exaggerated idea of how many immigrants there are, and to explain why many people believe this although it is wrong.

Here's an extended quote from the report, so you can see exactly what it says in its proper context:
68% of people agreed with the statement in our MORI poll that there were too many migrants in Britain – and 47% of the Asian, and 45% of the Black respondents felt that there was too much immigration into Britain.

Our hypothesis is that this might be because people are confused about the difference between UK born minorities, settled migrants from the past, current legal migrants, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants; with a tendency among some to see a person from any of these groups in the most negative way possible. And alongside this tendency is one that sees migrants alone as being responsible for larger problems or trends – with house price increases being blamed on economic migrants, for example, when they are just one factor within a booming economy.
So, while it does point out that most people think there are too many immigrants in the UK, it does so in the context of pointing out that those people are wrong and goes on to explain why these people might have the wrong idea. It most definitely does not blame immigration for damaging Britain.

More on the Express in a bit, but for now, let's have a look at the Mail's coverage. The Mail's original article (that I looked at in 'The Daily Mail is actually driving communities apart', which is back up now I've made a couple of little changes) has been completely replaced with 'Culture briefing packs will teach immigrants how to queue'. When I first noticed the change, all that had happened was that a few sentences had been bolted on the beginning and the rest of the article had been left pretty much untouched, but now it's completely gone from the site. You can see it here on infowars.net (I'm not endorsing infowars.net, incidentally - they could be a right bunch of numpties, for all I know).

Anyway, the new version focuses solely on the proposal for information packs to be given to new immigrants, and there's also this, 'Teenagers could be told to bond with immigrants'.
It's curious that the paper would shift away from trumpeting the report in the same way the Express does, for 'admitting' a bunch of stuff it doesn't actually say, to this.

Funnily enough, it still includes some misinformation about what the report says, but it has gone from implying the report has answered all its prayers to pretty much trashing it. Maybe that's because the paper noticed that it didn't in fact say half the stuff it pretended it did and was actually quite positive about immigration. And for the Mail, 'positive about immigration' means 'must be crap'.

Now, onto the important thing the paper misrepresents, because it ties in with the Express. The Mail says this:
Senior Labour politicians such as Margaret Hodge and Jon Cruddas have spoken of fears among whites that newly-arrived immigrants are preferred for council homes.

The commission warns that a poll shows more than half the population share such fears.
Its report, Our Shared Future, said: "This finding highlights that people are very sensitive about perceived freeloading by other groups, and about others getting a better deal than them when it comes to certain public services. The groups most often named spontaneously were asylum seekers, refugees or immigrants."
Here, the Mail is quite obviously deliberately avoiding the report's explanation of why people believe this. The Express does this too, and Obsolete did give this quote a good kicking already, but I want to get a couple of digs in myself:
Last night the report was being seen as vindication at last of the warnings repeatedly raised against relaxing border controls by the Daily Express and other campaigners.

Critics of Labour’s decision to relax immigration controls were vilified and decried as “racist” by ministers. But after record numbers of newcomers have swelled the population and put crippling pressure on public services and housing, ministers are now in retreat.
As I pointed out in 'The Daily Mail is actually driving communities apart', the report does not say that resources are unfairly allocated. It says that people think they are, and it's conclusion as to why is incredibly important:
But as our interim statement highlighted, this seems to be a stronger national than local perception (where locally only 25% feel that some groups get unfair priority) [...] it seems that there is a national/local perceptions gap about unfair access to public services.

MORI suggest that people’s national picture may come from the national media. Local views on the other hand may be based on personal experience or anecdotes told by friends, family or neighbours.
In other words, when people can observe what is actually happening themselves, they're less likely to believe that things are unfairly allocated - but when they can only get their information from the press, they're more likely to think things are unfair.

The way both papers have dealt with covering this report is an excellent example of exactly why this might be. The report says people have a different impression of how things are allocated when they can't see from themselves to when they have to rely on the press, and both papers ignore their own culpability, with one just deciding to scream about how things are unfairly allocated instead. Great.

There is one more thing I want to look at. Both papers are quite taken with the idea of new arrivals being given information packs. They would be, since they emphasise how immigrants spit in the streets, don't know how to queue and are generally a nuisance, but there is another set of information packs the report recommends sending out that don't get a mention.

Firstly, the report says this:

But they [national media] will always sell papers on the basis of what they know people want to hear – and that might mean stories about increased immigration, conflict or unfairness, or stories that are aimed to shock or enrage.
Before going on to recommend targeting local media to spread positive coverage of immigration to local areas, and going on to recommend:
Local Authorities should develop myth busting strategies aimed specifically at established communities. This might include myth busting packs which would contain accurate and impartial information about recent changes to the community and the benefits of migration. It might include face to face dialogue with communities most at risk of believing the myth.
So, in summary - the report says that many people have a skewed view of the effects of immigration, suggesting that this probably comes from the national media. It criticises the coverage of the national media. It then goes on to recommend giving local people myth busting packs to dispel any myths they may have heard - some of which would have come from the national media.

Just looking at the coverage of these to papers shows why that might be necessary. In covering a report and pretending that the things it says about attitudes to immigration - which it clearly states are wrong - and pretending these things actually apply to immigration itself, the papers have illustrated the report's point perfectly.

The Mail's coverage is the most curious though - and the most revealing about that tabloid's agenda. The Express's is easy. It doesn't like 'ethnics', and will take every given opportunity to attack ethnic minorities and immigrants. Any report, however positive, will just be lied about and twisted. The Mail's approach started off the same, but as I said in 'The Daily Mail is actually driving communities apart', it's important for the paper to depict anything that is ever done about immigration as being rubbish and a shambles, so its original coverage gets thrown out to fit the report into that overarching myth instead.

Perhaps the hacks at the Mail were savvy enough to realise that giving positive coverage to the report would also by implication give positive coverage to the bits where it trashes the paper's own agenda. Still, it shows the paper to be run by a bunch of petty, petulant children.
What it does very effectively expose is how much the paper spins, changing its entire attitude overnight.

1 comment:

septicisle said...

Great post. Incidentally, infowars is a conspiraloon site from Alex Jones, who thinks 9/11 was an inside job, although it doesn't really make much difference when you're just linking to a mirrored article there.