Britain’s paranoid right-wing press is provoking a climate of terror of Romanians and Bulgarians using arguments which are based on lies.
The purpose seems to be to force a divide between the British people and the European Union and to encourage the UK’s Conservative-led Government to break EU legislation allowing Romanians and Bulgarians to work freely in the UK from 2014.
This strategy is in parallel with the agenda of Britain’s UK Independence Party, a far right protest party, whose candidates favour the country’s exit from the EU and an end to immigration to the UK.
Below are five tactics that the UK press uses to create fear of Romania and Bulgaria. Together this resembles a coordinated strategy to target these two countries as part of a wide-scale agenda to eject Britain from the EU.
First lie: Romanians and Bulgarians will invade Britain
The right-wing British press believes that an immigration boom of Romanians and Bulgarians to the UK is inevitable when the changes will come into affect in 2014 allowing free movement of workers’ rights for citizens of the two countries.
Bestselling tabloid The Sun states:
“A TIDAL wave of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants is threatening to swamp Britain — and flood our overstretched jobs market.”
The proof? The journalist talks to a couple of Romanians waiting for a bus in London, one of whom says: ‘The UK is much better than Romania. All my mates will come in 2014’.
Assuming that this man does not have millions of Facebook ‘friends’ poised to start working on 1 January 2014 across the islands, we can safely argue that this does not count as evidence.
Meanwhile the world’s most popular news website – The Daily Mail – uses ‘expert’ views to bolster its claims –
“Experts warn of a ‘significant spike’ [of migrants to the UK] when limitations imposed by the EU are lifted at the end of next year. Numbers are expected to be higher than when restriction was lifted for Poland in 2004.”
However this ‘expert’ opinion comes from Migration Watch, an NGO with an agenda to reduce immigration into the UK. Migration Watch may be a respectable organisation, but it is not an independent voice.
Second lie: Tens of millions of Romanians and Bulgarians will swarm to Britain
Once the media has established that this immigration boom is inevitable, it shocks readers with exaggerated numbers.
The Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Express quote the risk of “29 million” Romanians and Bulgarians flooding Britain – the total number of these nations’ citizens.
Trevor Kavanagh, a veteran Eurosceptic commentator, states in The Sun:
“An EU law means that from 2014, more than 29 million people from the two countries will be entitled to apply for any UK job.”
Alex Gore in the Daily Mail backs him up, but raises the figure:
“British jobs could be at risk when nearly 30 million Bulgarians and Romanians gain the right to live and work unrestricted in the UK from 2014.”
With these numbers, Kavanagh and Gore imply that every single child, baby and pensioner at the threshold of death from these countries are dropping their CVs into Google Translate so they can apply to be a barista in Newcastle, Sheffield or Cardiff.
Third lie: 30 million Romanian and Bulgarian criminals will invade Britain
Once we know how many Romanians and Bulgarians will arrive in the UK (30 million), the British press reveals who these people are – pickpockets, pimps and assassins.
The Sun’s Kavanagh uses a smart turn of phrase to imply a lie, which he does not directly state:
“Tens of thousands [of Romanians and Bulgarians] have already settled in Britain. They run vice gangs and operate Fagin-style begging rings whose children bring in huge sums from soft-hearted Brits.”
With this sequence of phrases, Kavanagh implies that tens of thousands – all of the Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK – are selling whores and stealing purses.
He defames every migrant of two whole nations – a total of 140,000 people – as petty thieves living off prostitutes.
Suddenly Kavanagh switches to becoming an expert on southeast European politics – calling Romania and Bulgaria a “murderous regime” and states that in Romania: “Gangland executions are daily events.”
You heard it here first. Gangland. Executions. Are. Daily. Events. In. Romania.
It must be true. The Sun said it.
Fourth lie: 30 million racist Romanians and Bulgarians will invade Britain
Britons are not all racist. But many of them are. When they realise it is not acceptable to be racist about a particular race, due to the fashions of the day, they switch their contempt to another.
These tend to shift between who the right-wing press believes are ‘good migrants’ and who are ‘bad migrants’.
In the 1980s the Irish were branded as “terrorists” and “drunks”, in the 1990s, the Afro-Caribbeans as “drug-dealers” and “skivers”, while in the 2000s this shifted to Pakistanis who were branded as “suicide-bombers” and “woman-hating”.
Now Romanians are the new bad migrant.
Lacking a terrorist angle, reporters trawl the web for any evidence of a Romanian saying something nasty as proof that it is acceptable for Britain’s ‘good migrants’ to hate them.
Here is a lead from the Daily Express:
“ROMANIANS preparing to swamp Britain next year are insulting British towns and cities and making racist comments about fellow immigrants on the internet.”
The newspaper finds anonymous quotes from Romanians who tell other Romanians to avoid London because it is “full of Pakistanis”. Someone called ‘Mutu’ writing on the site advises his fellow citizens to avoid the town of Slough in Berkshire because it has a “high concentration” of “pickaninny” (a derogatory term for black children).
In colonial times, this was called divide and conquer. It was how the Brits took over the world. Its military forced one race to fight against another, while its generals sat on their horses, sparked up their pipes, sipped on Gins and Tonic and laughed at the idiot foreigners. After mislaying their empire, Brits have now decided to play this game at home.
Fifth lie: 30 million sick Romanians and Bulgarians will invade British hospitals
A big fear of the British is that all the migrants from Romania and Bulgaria are sick and will exploit Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) for free healthcare.
The anti-immigration Daily Mail states:
“Earlier this year an investigation by Pulse magazine estimated that over the past three years health tourists had been given free hospital treatment worth £40 million.”
This means just over £13 million a year from an NHS budget of £103.4 billion. Thus “health tourists” – of which Romanians and Bulgarians could only be a part – waste 0.012 per cent of the NHS’s budget. This is not a disaster for the Britain.
Romanians and Bulgarians are not among the top 20 migrant nations using the NHS. The majority of these two countries’ migrants are young, healthy and entrepreneurial – as most migrants are the world over.
They are not cancerous paraplegics stricken with the bubonic plague desperate for the attentions of a plump, red-faced English matron.
When I was working in a bank in the UK 20 years ago, a girl employed there often attacked the ‘invasion’ of immigrants to the UK. She had two arguments. Her first was that they come over to “steal our unemployment benefits”. Her second argument was that they come over to “steal our jobs”.
In The Sun, Trevor Kavanagh says that Romanians are seen as “skivers” – but if they “are seen” as “skivers” why do they continually find employment in the UK?
So are Romanians and Bulgarians stealing British jobs or stealing British benefits?
Are they working hard or are they sick? In every argument against immigration there is a paradox and in every paradox there is a lie.
Rather than create well-balanced stories reflecting the truth of a situation, these papers have a narrative. One of those narratives is the Racist Narrative. Any culture which can be safely attacked with an appearance of a justification will fit into that narrative. Today, it is Romania and Bulgaria.