by Guy Taylor, steering committee, Movement against Xenophobia
The outrage of Katie Hopkins’ vicious article about the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean is uncomfortably familiar to everyone. Coming just a couple of days before the deaths of 700+ migrants throws her callous and controversialist words into grim perspective.
Hopkins thrives on the sensational, the outrage and the hurt. She is usually best ignored. But when the words she uses are not simply racist or shocking, but so offensive as to place her and her publishing newspaper the Sun in the exact same territory as the BNP, one senses that a line has been crossed.
I am long used to studying the form of the nasty side of what passes for debate on immigration in the UK. That experience was one of the key factors in motivating me to be one of the key founding members of MAX (the Movement Against Xenophobia) the group responsible for the currently “I Am An Immigrant” poster campaign. The other reason was the feeble nature of the progressive side of the debate.
The argument deployed by Hopkins to use gunboats instead of lifeboats as a deterrent to the thousands of desperate migrants seeking sanctuary from brutal existences, or wanting to try to make a better life for themselves in Europe, was originally expressed by Nick Griffin, when still leader of the BNP in 2009. More recently we have seen UK government policy turn to refusing funding for Mare Nostrum, the search and rescue operation previously funded by governments across the EU. This policy change, while as deadly as a move to gunboats, utilises less military hardware and expense for the UK taxpayer.
Interestingly, Hopkins has since changed her rhetoric to burning boats in North Africa and not expressly murdering people. Has she mellowed over a couple of days or does she sense a bit of trouble brewing ahead?
Hopefully the latter. When I first saw the article I immediately logged on to the IPSO website. I’ve previously used the PCC, with no effect, so IPSO seemed the natural place to turn. Scanning through the editors’ code and searching for a point of transgression by Hopkins really brought it home what a useless body IPSO is. She basically wrote an article within the remit of the code, primarily because her discrimination in calling African migrants “cockroaches” wasn’t aimed at any particular individual.
It doesn’t take long to suss out that it is easier for a journalist to break hate crime laws than it is to fall foul of the pathetic rules of IPSO. I went onto the TrueVision hate crimes website and stuck a complaint in there. Within four hours Lewisham Police were on the phone and taking a statement.
I doubt my complaint will come to much, but felt that I had to do something. MAX has now called a demonstration for Saturday lunchtime outside the EU Offices in London’s Smith Square. There’s little point turning the ire onto Hopkins and the Sun alone when hundreds of people are dying regularly in the Med. The search and rescue that exists has to be significantly strengthened and the EU must find a way of organising safe crossing for people escaping their previous brutal existences.
The humanitarian and compassionate side of the British public must be amplified and demonstrated – only then will Hopkins feel obliged to return under the stone whence she came.
One final thought. Hopkins has previously said that if Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister then she will leave the country. Well, if that does happen I will not only drive her to the airport, I’ll accompany her to Lampedusa, find her a raft and give it a mighty push south from the shore, a fitting exit for such a woman.
Read more on this topic by MRC chair, Des Freedman – here