Thursday, April 08, 2010

Xenophobia in the UK Press

Have you ever thought, just by chance, what a foreign visitor would think if, one morning, they decided to flick through Britain's papers?

Do you think the country would come across as a vibrant, open, outward-looking Great Britain or, instead, as a fearful, paranoid, xenophobic Little England?

A new blog, "Press Xenophobia- Recording anti-foreign rhetoric in the UK Press", has just been launched. Its aim, to keep a record of how British tabloids and newspapers refer to people who were not born on British soil, the notorious foreigners.

For instance, take a look at today April 8, 2010.

Starting with the Independent, a so-called quality paper, there's a story under the headline Foreign doctors' poor English is killing patients, say MPs.

To glance at it, you'd be excused for thinking that Dr Harold Shipman came back reincarnated as a German speaking locum, but no. Those "foreign doctors" (note the plural) killing "patients" (note the plural) is none other than a single unfortunate mistake from 2008, when a German locum prescribed a patient ten times the correct dose of morphine.

Then, of course, comes the roll call of tabloids, each feasting on the day's most distorted piece of news. Just look at the headlines.

The Sun: Migrants take every new job. The Express: 1.7 MILLION NEW JOBS AND 92% GOES TO MIGRANTS as well as the vile SO HOW CAN WE IMPROVE YOUR LIFE, MR MIGRANT?

On to the porn rag par excellance, the Daily Star, fine purveyors of news and current affairs. As you dodge a "baby vixen" and a "brunette babe having fun", here comes the headline: FOREIGNERS COME FIRST, with the added info that "Britain's immigration policy is a mess".

Finally, creme de la menthe, the Daily Mail, claiming that 375% of all jobs, houses, portions of chips and bus tickets went to rabid dog-owning transgender asylum-seeking migrants.

Click here for more about 'Press Xenophobia'.


BiluĊ› said...

Yes, it's utterly embarrassing and shameful - it's not new, either; when I left UK to work abroad in the mid 90s, one of the main things I was glad to leave behind was this dreadful and fearful excuse for debate here. Thanks for keeping us informed with this (and much else), Claude, and sorry that you have to 'read' this stuff, cos I don't any more and haven't for a long time - it makes me feel sooo dirty!

Anita said...

Embarrassing is the right word.

I can only assume foreign correspondants and foreign observers here in Britain report back home and that's how the reputation that we're all a xenophobic lot spreads.

Anonymous said...

I am a migrant from so called Eastern Europe and I also noted this blind beligerance towards immigrants. What is really ridiculous is that the press was raising alarm when "we" were coming as well as when the numbers of immigrants started to go down recently because UK is not that convenient for us anyore therefore people started to go home. One would think they would celebrate but...the opposite was the truth. Some British' people remarks on this suggested they were sort of insulted by our "ingratitude" = that we got enough of doing low-paid jobs they do not want...
I used to have a very positive view on Britain before I came here. After 5 years here it changed to rather negative. There is a lot of hostility against foreign people just for the sake of them being foreign.We do contribute with work (although there are scroungers, too, but that's not a majority) but somehow that is not appreciated/The natives like to see us as a cheap workforce kind of "folks". I once read in a British paper that foreigners were regarded to be 2nd class citizents. Pretty fashist attitude, if you ask me.
Britain does not (want to) realise how much we help this country but they will soon when it's going to be too late. Immigrants are leaving for a better place. Places which can appreciate them as human beings not just as tools for their economy not even that sometimes).

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone else is noticing this because whenever I pull Daily Maid editor on that (that Britain is racist and xenophobic and his paper promotes it) he replies that I am mistaken. Makes me feel like I'm going mad! I'm from Russia originally, I've lived in UK for 20 years, I have 2 university degrees and won awards in my field yet I try not to talk in public because of how people suddenly change their attitude towards me (negative) just because I speak with an accent. As for the rubbish Daily Mail wrote about me many times... I've lost hope I'll ever be accepted and changed careers (I was a musician but now write and choreograph and stay out of the lime light). Things were never that good to start with but after a warmer climate towards foreigners in the early 90-s things are getting worse and worse. The thing is, there are also so many British people who don't feel this way, who are fair, accepting, decent human beings who want all people to get on, who are respectful and good. But their voices are drowned out by the xenophobic bigots of the likes of Daily Mail ilk and it's a shame.