Quite staggeringly it looks like our government is set to make it illegal to post pictures or videos on social media that show migrants crossing the channel in what it describes as“a positive light”. Here I explore their line of thinking, where their direction of travel is taking us and the truth behind the Home Office’s failure to deal with the situation.
Showing migrants in a positive light branded as illegal
An amendment to the Online Safety Bill, proposed by Tory MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke, would see footage that shows people crossing the English Channel in small boats in what is described as a “positive light” branded illegal. The amendment is set to be introduced before the bill goes before the House of Lords.
The amendment was later confirmed by Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan who said in a written statement, “Aiding, abetting, counselling, conspiring etc. those offences by posting videos of people crossing the channel which show that activity in a positive light could be an offence that is committed online”.
Freedom From Torture group responded to this which prompted us to ask whether in the future, this addition to the bill will mean that anyone reporting on migrants crossing the channel can only do so legally if it shows them in a negative light.
Our government’s stance against migrants and their rights is well known. Recently Freedom from Torture posted a video of Joan Salter, a Holocaust survivor, confronting the Home Secretary Suella Braverman about the consequences of the language she uses:
“When I hear you using words against refugees like ‘swarms’ and an ‘invasion’, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family and millions of others. Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?”
Suella Braverman replied:
“I won’t apologise for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem.
“I see my job as being honest with the British people and honest for the British people. We have a problem with people exploiting our generosity, breaking our laws and undermining our system.”
Later the Home Office even asked for the video to be removed, Tweeting:
“The Home Secretary attended an event last night and took questions, including on immigration policy. Footage of a conversation with a holocaust survivor is circulating online. The video has been heavily edited and doesn’t reflect the full exchange.”
We will let you make your own minds up if any of that claim about the video being heavily edited makes any difference to the validity of the claim by a holocaust survivor by providing a link to the original.
Not surprisingly and as a reminder to us all that we must take on those that routinely use such hateful language and wish to shut down free speech, Joan Salter responded;
“I confronted Suella Braverman’s use of hateful language. She refused to apologise. We must always challenge the language of hate. The Home Office demanded the video be taken down. They seem not to realise we are still a democracy.”
We salute you, Joan. Suella Braverman’s policies towards migrants are both cruel and ugly. Anyone who says that ‘I would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession’ seems devoid of any compassion.
Here it might be worth mentioning that Hitler, or more specifically senior Nazi official Franz Rademacher, also had such dreams of shipping people, in this case a million jews, off to Africa each year, but was stopped by the British naval blockade.
The real truth of the migrant situation
It is time that our government created safe passages for refugees to prevent people risking their lives by taking small boats to cross the Channel. It should be a matter of national shame how our government has abandoned Afghans to danger, many of whom helped our military forces.
According to the Guardian, 6,300 Afghans have been relocated here under the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme (ACRS). Yet many have been forced to leave their families at home despite the UK Government promising their right to be reunited with family members in the UK. Is it any wonder people take other routes when in essence our government is forcing them to come via these routes through their broken promises?
Or is it fear? The reality is that, as the Government states, “81% were granted refugee status following an asylum application”. Perhaps they worry they will be seen as soft on immigration, one of their key Brexit pledges. Perhaps that is why successive Home Secretaries have failed to do their job and process them.
Eight years ago, nine out of ten claims were processed within six months but by November 2022, just 4% of those that have arrived by boat have been processed and a decision made. Suella Braverman and her predecessor Priti Patel are children of migrants, welcomed to the UK. Have this duo pulled the drawbridge up deliberately and sabotaged our asylum system to stop others following in the footsteps of their parents?
Or is it that they didn’t understand what they voted for back in 2016 and that leaving the EU meant the UK would no longer be able to use the EU’s Dublin agreement which allows for the safe returning of migrants to the first EU member state they entered?