British Media Misses the Voices of Immigrants over ‘Go Home’ Campaign

Published: 8 August 2013

Country: UK

Home-Office-Go-Home-van-010The government sent two advertising vans to the streets of London with the message “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest” for a week. The controversial campaign that the government launched to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK has raised critics from the public and several human right organisations such as Liberty. This organisation decided to counterattack and sent another van for a day with the slogan “Stirring up tension and division in the UK illegally? Home Office, think again”.

National newspapers  in the UK have broadly covered the ‘antiracist’ and ‘racist’ van campaign and focused on the rift that this initiative has caused within the coalition government  with headlines  such as ‘Coalition at war over immigration’ and how this can be translated into votes for political parties, in particular for the Conservatives  who are taking a tougher discourse.

The media has also tended to quote what politicians have to say about this campaign without including other voices. For example, The Daily Telegraph published Boris Johnson’s opinion on this issue, who has a weekly column in the newspaper.

libertyimageOne of few articles that give a voice to someone with immigrant background is the article of Pukkah Pnjabi in The Guardian. He writes about his own experience. “As as a child in the 1970s with migrant parents I remember how ‘go home’ was shouted at us in the streets and graffitied on walls. One of my earliest memories is of the panic I felt when hearing my parents discussing in hushed tones whether we would indeed have to “go home” as we watched the National Front march on TV.”

The media coverage of ‘Go Home’ campaign  also lacks an analysis and research on figures, causes and factors of illegal immigration in the country, and discussion about other initiatives taken in the past or alternatives for future actions that could provide a better understanding of the issue.