Media whips up anti-migrant racism

Submitted by Matthew on 13 November, 2013 - 11:33

That we have come to expect this kind of gutter racism from the Daily Express does not make its “crusade to stop new EU migrants” any less disgusting.

Last week, the paper added that “95% support the Crusade”. Another headline proclaimed that “98%” were “demanding” a ban on new migrants.

95% of whom, exactly? Later in the article it is revealed that this was an estimate of callers to one radio show. The Express’s coverage is littered with unsubstantiated claims. They consistently and definitively talk of “70,000 new migrants”, despite the actual estimate being between 30,000 and 70,000, with government officials stating that migration is almost impossible to predict.

Their pages are spread with images that are presumably supposed to show the horrors of migration from Bulgaria and Romania. In reality this looks more like a game of “lets find some ‘non-English’ looking people and take photos of them for the paper”. The articles in the Daily Express talk vaguely of the “damage” immigrants cause to the country, often citing strain on the NHS and use of the benefits system.

In fact discriminatory, and harsh rules restrict immigrants’ access to jobs and benefits. According to a wide-ranging study based on data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, immigrants are 45 percent less likely to claim from the state than “native”, British-born citizens.

Even if migrant workers were statistically more likely to claim state benefits, we would still oppose the racism being whipped up by the likes of the Daily Express and support freedom of movement.

But many workers at the sharp end of austerity latch onto the media’s scapegoating of migrants for “answers” to their legitimate grievances about homes, jobs, and services. The labour movement needs to provide other, anti-racist, answers, that highlight the common class interests of British-born and migrant workers.

Joining up the dots between the conditions of mainly migrant low paid workers in the NHS and other areas with the cuts happening to those services serves to expose who is really to blame.

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