Sensationalist Media coverage of Channel crossings

Over the last week, Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP and Far Right Brexiteer has launched a campaign to “declare an emergency in the Channel” amid reports that ‘illegal’ crossings are at an all-time high.

Moving beyond the traditional racist dogwhistles to louder, more modern, racist foghorns, the UK media has again pandered to Farage, just as it has done for the past ten years. The BBC has hosted Farage on its flagship public affairs show, Question Time, more than any other politician.

Both Sky News and the BBC have been out in boats over the last few days filming groups of migrants, many of whom will be fleeing war, destitution and poverty, fuelled by our own imperialist foreign policy. These reports only serve to develop Farage’s racist agenda. More than this, they are utterly dehumanising, treating the treacherous crossing as if it were merely a spectator sport.

This is not journalism, and merely seeks to serve a racist minority who dream of a racist English ethnostate. Five years since the images of three year old, Aylan Kurdi’s dead body washed up on a beach flooded our press, it is clear that the sympathy shown then, was a mere flash in the pan as nothing has changed since thousands risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015.

Let’s not fall into a false dichotomy supported by liberals and far right that the EU is an enabler of human rights. The EU was happy to erect fences in Hungary and Greece in 2015. Was happy to enable fascist support through Orban and Jarosław Kaczyński. So too is it happy to treat refugees as a problem of the individual, rather than a failure of its own foreign policies and the capitalist system.

Also of note, given continuing protests in the United States through the Black Lives Matter movement, is how quickly right wingers have shifted from arguing that “All Lives Matter” to a position of supporting the drowning of migrants in the Channel.

Predictably, Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have indulged in Farage’s racist rhetoric, for fear that they will be outflanked on the right. Patel announced further funding for Navy ships who sought to curtail the number of crossings.

It’s note worthy what we have seen with Starmer’s Labour is shadow cabinet ministers lining up to blame the Tories for “failing to deal with the issue.”

Rather than seeking to villainise migrants fleeing war and persecution, we need to reform the home office to support asylum seekers. More than this, we need to build a free and fair press that treats migrant as humans and does not degrade them in what is surely their most obvious moment of weakness and fear.

Peter Stoddart

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