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Wednesday, March 02, 2005


It's official - the Daily Express talks bollocks

Here's a handy factoid with which to silence any saloon bar bigots you may encounter while out canvassing:

Of the 91,000 eastern Europeans who arrived in Britain to work in the five months after EU enlargement, fewer than 15 have claimed benefits.

(Reported in the Spectator, 29 January, via the March 2005 edition of Prospect).

You may recall that the Daily Express had warned us in a front page headline early last year, "1.6 million gypsies ready to flood in". Only in small print on an inside page was the reader informed that 1.6 million is actually the combined total number of Roma in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

An Express editorial on 24th February 2004 (the day after David Blunkett had announced restrictions on immigration from the new EU member states) said,

"The work-shy of Europe will not be deterred from abusing our welfare state by the confused and last-minute proposals announced by the government yesterday."
On 25th February, the Express was warning its credulous readers, "How health tourists will bleed our system dry".

As EU enlargement on 1st May came nearer, the Express's tone became more apocalyptic. David Aaronovitch (Guardian, 4th May 2004) reported on the mounting hysteria:

On April 28 the Express warned: "Only three days to go before thousands of eastern European migrants head to Britain." And, "Gypsies say they can't wait to arrive in land of dole and benefits." Twenty-four hours later it was: "TWO DAYS TO GO ... AND STRAIN STARTS TO SHOW ON EUROPE'S FLIMSY BORDERS ... THOUSANDS of migrants are massing at Europe's eastern frontier hoping to use former Iron Curtain countries as a springboard to Britain."

Then, last Friday, chillingly: "ONE DAY TO GO: WE EXPOSE SHOCKING LACK OF SECURITY AT NEW FRONTIER ... We discovered how easy it can be for a terrorist, people-smuggler or drug-runner to sneak into Europe undetected across its new southern border."
The delusional world of the Daily Express is depressing to behold. However, its readers are so old that, by any standard actuarial calculation, in ten years' time they will all be dead.

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