I'll have a racist 99 please!

Last week, two vans with massive posters on the side telling illegal immigrants to fuck off or get arrested were driven around six select London boroughs. Rumours that they played a plinky-plonky ice cream van version of Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' as they went remain unconfirmed.

'In the UK illegally?' they asked politely of everyone before bellowing, 'GO HOME OR FACE ARREST' presumably at people who were indeed in the UK illegally. To assorted right wingers and racist people, however, they shouted 'WE ARE BEING ALL HARD ABOUT FOREIGNS. PLEASE DON'T VOTE FOR THE UKIPS'. I'll leave you to guess which of those was the actual primary message. (HINT: It was the second one, Einstein).

The thing about immigration is that it's an incredibly difficult issue that is by no means easy to deal with, both practically and ethically, but our politicians and media would never acknowledge that. Listen to those guys and you'd think the only obstacle to 'seizing control of our borders' were the all-powerful left, who despite being nowhere near government manage to make the subject impossible to even mention, even though it's in newspapers and on radio and television almost every day, often being mentioned by people complaining that they're not allowed to mention it.

Try to find any estimate of how much it would cost or how it would be logistically possible to restrict immigration as far as they'd like on the websites of any of our anti-immigration press or people like MigrationWatch, and you'll end up wasting a lot of time you could be using more usefully watching YouTube videos of people getting hit in the groin. You might as well just say restricting immigration is free and can be staffed by magic pixies for all the attention that side of things gets.

The immigration story of choice in the papers a few weeks ago was the news that the backlog of cases being dealt with by the Home Office stood at over half a million and would take over 37 years to clear. Difficult, right? What could the government do in the face of a 37 year backlog, especially when they'd already shown off about changes that were supposed to fix the system? Increase budgets? Hire more staff? Think about an amnesty for the ones who've been here longest?

No, fuck all that. All you need is a couple of vans with posters on to drive around six of the 32 boroughs in London. That'll deal with the problem. Not the problem of the actual backlog, but the problem of the people you, along with your buddies in the right wing media, have conditioned to think that immigration isn't a difficult issue at all suddenly believing you're mucking up the easiest thing in the world.

Thanks to the van, two weeks after the 37 year backlog was revealed the news was flooded with lots of lovely government people talking about how they'd reduced net migration (without mentioning how much was lost in fees from blocked foreign students), they're totally not racist and anyone who opposes them want people to be encouraged to break the law.

That last argument is real by the way.* It's taken from the Daily Mail article 'Racism? It is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain' by Immigration Minister Mark Harper, answering a charge nobody I saw actually make. Still, it was good for him to counter accusations that the execution of the idea was racist in a paper renowned for its zealously anti-racist readers who balk at the mere suggestion of anything racially untoward.

Ha ha. I did a funny. No it's not. It's renowned for a readership that hates immigration and anything being described as racist unless it has a whiff of discriminating against white British people. They'd never have had a problem with the vans in the first place. Why, it's almost as if the whole thing were a cynical attempt at targeting the anti immigrant vote.

But were the vans racist? Who gives a shit what you think, chump? They're not for you. Of course, saying they're racist and arguing against them on TV or radio gives the intended audience the treat of seeing a tory face down someone they hate over a topic dear to their cold, cold, reptillian hearts anyway, so it's not as if your opinion counts for nothing. It just doesn't count in the way you'd like.**

Apparently, the vans will be rolled out in more places if the campaign is successful. Unfortunately, Zoe Williams didn't get any sort of explanation of what it was that would make it a success in 'The Home Office anti-immigration billboards are just a publicity stunt' - but since the Mail ran an article about the Mark Harper piece on the same day with the headline 'Controversial 'Go home' migrant vans should tour the country, says defiant minister', I'd say there's a chance we'll see them again.

*The article is well worth a read. It's terrible. Nobody in a million years would expect any of the arguments to win over an opponent. It's like a parody of a bullshitting politician.

**Unless you're Nigel Farage, the only person with a real chance to have an effect. He called the vans 'nasty' in an attempt to wrong foot the government and keep hold of some of those supporters the tories are trying to lure back.


SA said...

Thank you for this.

Jack Davies said...

I despair of Britain when I see things like this. How this got past the first post in any civilised society is beyond me. It's about time we had a revolution.
In the meantime, I'm going to have a plate of pasta. Almost as good.