Monday, October 27, 2003

BBC and asylum Part 72

On Sunday 26th October a top radio and BBC online news item was the arrest of 42 people in Sussex suspected of illegal working.

A strange story to make the headlines, really. A quick search of BBC news produces 151 stories on illegal workers. Earlier this month 40 were arrested in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In September 35 in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and 19 in Wokingham (out of 40 - the rest ran away). Half a dozen in Sark, of all places, in August, and over 100 in Esher, the heart of comfortable Surrey commuterland. None of these made the headlines.

So what was so special about the Sussex 42 ?

On Friday BBC news featured David Blunketts decision to announce yet another amnesty for 30,000 asylum seekers as a main item.

Was someone at the BBC looking for a 'balancing' story, to illustrate how well the Government are tackling the issue ? Note the remarkable sub-heading 'Government means business' . It's unattributed, and nowhere appears in the story.

And what do we find today as one of the top stories, after the unspeakable Burrell and the woes of Ian Duncan Smith ?

"Tougher Asylum Laws Proposed"

UPDATE - the great goddess Mel P. writes on the Blunkett capitulation.

"The Home Office says the new measures restricting benefits will send ‘a clear signal’ that people refused asylum from now on must leave the UK. This is like saying the law against burglary is a clear signal that no-one should rob anyone. But it’s useless if everyone knows that it’s never enforced. "