This post is contributed by my friend John Cole, who is also writing a letter of complaint to the Press Council. I hope he is one of many and shall publish their response. It is a source of constant regret and surprise to me that so many of my acquaintances, all seemingly decent people, continue to buy the Daily Mail. I do wish they would cancel their orders and write to the Mail and tell them why.
“When is a horde not a horde”?
The Euro-phobic right-wing media have been running a series of scare stories regarding the UK about to be swamped by a huge influx of economic migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.
From the start of this year workers from those two countries have been free to come to our islands to find work – all as part of the “single European market”. UKIP has seen this as an opportunity to stoke up anti-immigrant feeling and the Conservative Party (reverting to “nasty” type) feels obliged to follow and engage in the narrative for fear of losing more of its core vote.
The right-wing tabloids plus the “Telegraph” have seen fit to give the pot a good stir and at the same time toss in a few lies for good measure. The following is a classic example – for which I am indebted to Jon Danzig, formerly an investigative journalist with the BBC.
On December 31st the ”Daily Mail” ran a headline: “Sold Out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK” . Under the headline the Mail reported that
ñ one airline had doubled its flights to meet demand
ñ such was demand that tickets were selling at £3,000 each
ñ buses from Bulgaria to London were fully booked until January 9th
Jon Danzig made enquiries and was able to establish the following:
ñ Easyjet reported that traffic from Romania and Bulgaria was “nothing out of the normal”
ñ WizzAir reported: “The claims of the Daily Mail that we doubled our flights and that no low fares are available ...are complete rubbish”
The bus operator Balkan Horn told Danzig that:
ñ seats were available on the bus for Friday 3rd January from Sofia to London
ñ “most of the passengers are returning back to the UK following the Christmas break. We actually have less bookings than this time last year”.
ñ Danzig found he could book a seat from Bucharest on the 7th January for 157 Euros.
Thanks to Jon Danzig we can see that the Mail story is a tissue of lies. It is all part of a media frenzy to set the agenda. Sadly the BBC collaborated in this by making the influx of Bulgarians and Romanians its lead news item on Radio 4 throughout New Years Day. But it was a non-story. It was confected.
The first plane into Luton Airport from Romania in January 1st had a capacity of 180, of which 40 seats were empty. The vast majority of Romanians arriving were those returning to existing jobs after spending Christmas in Romania. One of the few exceptions was a new arrival, Viktor who was set upon by the large media scrum. Viktor apparently exhausted himself in giving countless interviews.
Conclusion? The only horde was the media pack.
(if you Google “Jon Danzig” you can access his blog - this item is under the EU ROPE side-heading)