“Nick and Margaret – Obscuring the Immigration Debate”

The BBC’s recent programme ‘Nick and Margaret: Too many immigrants?’ (BBC1 15/7/14) is proof of the BBC’s move an uncritical populist media bias.

The move to making programmes about the ‘immigrant problem’ is purely feeding into the scapegoating caused by big business wanting to shift blame regarding the financial crisis. Instead of attacking big business we blame an easier source, the UK’s immigrants. The programme was supposed to be an unbiased representation of immigrants in the UK with native British families making a judgement regarding immigrants being a ‘drain’ or ‘gain’ on British society. Despite this claim to objectivity, the commentator repeatedly said words such as ‘influx’ of immigrants and fed into scaremongering highlighting comments such as ‘no room left’, ‘rapid rate of growth’, ‘more immigrants than ever before’ showing us pictures of Farage’s ‘everyman face’ along with the main three political parties leaders claiming there is an ‘immigration problem’.

They discussed the fact that 13% of the population is now born abroad but failed to mention the majority of these are international students who have to pay nearly triple the amount UK born citizens do to gain a place and study at a UK university. It appeared the white, working class male believed that companies pay immigrants less to do the jobs he is qualified to do but rather than blaming the big companies undercutting British workers, this is somehow the low paid immigrants fault.

The fact that a Polish man, who now owns a business in the UK, pays tax and contributes to the UK economy is portrayed as an incredibly negative notion, yet a UK born man whom is too incompetent to search for a job he is actually qualified to do, is somehow a positive. How the BBC thought making immigrants the scapegoats in the programme despite the fact they were featured working incredibly hard for little reward is confusing. The negative aspects on the immigrant’s lives seem to be overshadowed by anti-immigration propaganda, one of the immigrant families live with a child in a one bedroom house sleeping on the sofa to ensure their child has a good life, and a young French woman shares a house with another 19 people. The young white English man featured had not even registered with job agencies but felt able to complain about immigrants ‘stealing’ jobs. Blame should lie with the right people; in this case immigrants are not to blame. Rather laziness and the UK’s complacency need to be vilified.

Similarly another contradiction was viewed in an older white couple complaining about immigrants not knowing English and then causing uproar about free English classes that are given to immigrants through a charity. An expert on the housing situation was interviewed and his explanation was that immigrants are not causing a housing problem it is instead caused by a lack of new houses being built. This was skated over by the presenters as his conclusion went against the overall feel of the programme and was therefore unimportant. The end of the programme saw only one of the English born men believing immigration is a good thing.

In conclusion I am angered by the BBC’s right-wing bias in relation to immigration. This programme like many similar ones only escalate the hatred of immigrants instead of giving correct and up to date facts. I fear for immigration related television in the future with a new channel 4 documentary being planned called ‘Immigrant Street’ I suspect it will also demonise the UK’s immigrants and therefore give some standing to right wing populist parties such as Farage’s UKIP.

 

Bronwen Edwards

Canterbury Christ Church University

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