This is the week I unconditionally forgave Gary Lineker for all those awful Walker’s Crisp commercials!
Gary Lineker made a legitimate point about the Tory government’s immigration bill stating that it was an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
Linker is not a BBC employee, he works freelance in his capacity as Match of the Day host, and he was tweeting his opinion about the government’s proposed Immigration Bill as a private individual rather than in a professional capacity on his personal Twitter account.
And for this Lineker was suspended from presenting Match of the Day by the BBC management.
What the management didn’t expect was that several other football hosts and pundits would come out in solidarity with Gary and refuse to take part in Match of the Day on Saturday and related football shows over the weekend, one result of which was a reduced MOTD of 20 minutes!
By Monday 13th March the BBC had apologised for any misunderstanding and confusion surrounding their social media policy for staff and had agreed to reinstate Lineker to MOTD.
This event highlights several sociological themes:
- The migration issue itself – Lineker is right to highlight this issue, and I think that’s what we should be focussing on.
- A secondary issue is that it shows the BBC is biased towards right wing views and is prepared to censor left wing criticism on its behalf.
- It reminds us of the direct ties between the Tory government and the current head of the Corporation. This whole event was an example of social capital being played out.
- It shows us how the media operates to distract us from the really important political issue at hand – we have not been discussing the politics of migration over the weekend, we’ve been discussing Gary Lineker, and his dog!
You can read a summary of the Gary Lineker saga in The Guardian.
The discourse around migration
Lineker’s statement that the language the Tories are using is like that used in 1930s Germany is factually accurate.
A former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights made a similar point back in 2015 referencing the language Tories were using to describe Britain’s ‘immigration problem’ at that time.
David Cameron has used the term ‘swarms’ to refer to people coming to Britain, and Theresa May has previously stated that migration to the UK makes it ‘impossible to build a cohesive society’.
The similarity with the 1930s lies in the discussions that were had at the 1938 Evian Conference in the which the UK, USA and other countries discussed the issue of accepting Jews from Germany in response to Nazi policies.
The allies decided not to allow significant numbers of Jews to migrate, with the Austrian minister at that time stating that to do so would be to ‘import Germany’s race problem to the rest of Europe’.
It is this language of othering and the inhumane approach to the plight of refugees fleeing persecution which we see mirrored today in Tory rhetoric against migration.
More recently the inhuman being and current Home Secretary that calls herself Suella Braverman has referred to the small boat crossings to the UK as an invasion and said there were possibly billions of people who want to come to the UK, greatly exaggerating the extent of immigration.
In reality, migration to Britain is relatively low compared to other countries, and a larger problem may well be the government’s inability to process applications swiftly, which helps create a problem that simply doesn’t have to be a problem.
The current Immigration Bill would automatically ban anyone with a legitimate claim to asylum from coming to the UK if they previously tried to enter illegally. So literally, if there is another genocide somewhere in the world and someone tries to to escape that by coming to Britain illegally and gets caught, there is no way they can ever get back here by formal channels.
And of course the formal channels are very very very narrow!
This video by Jonathan Pie does a nice job of explaining the issue….
The biased BBC
Just to stress this is a minor point, the main issue really is the inhumane immigration bill, but the fact that the BBC decided to ban Lineker from presenting MOTD in attempt to get him to apologies for tweeting facts shows how the BBC is biased in favour of right wing Tory rhetoric.
Note that Alan Sugar, another prominent BBC personality has previously tweeted supporting Brexit and has tweeted against Corbyn, but he faced no sanction.
So here we have it, a straight up example of overt right wing bias from the BBC, a literal attempt to censor the views of someone who is (rightly) stating facts that are anti-government.
Elite media and government networks
As to why this bias this also seems clear. The current Chairman of the BBC has direct links to the Tory party: he previously helped Boris Johnson secure an $800 000 loan and then didn’t declare it when applying for the job, he’s currently under investigation.
And there were a lot of messages of complaint sent by Tory party members about Lineker’s Tweet being in breach of the BBC impartiality rules, which clearly wasn’t the case, but the pressure was enough for the BBC to ban Lineker and get itself into this mess.
While it is heartwarming to see a celebrity come out in favour of vulnerable and his friends come out in solidarity with him, let’s not forget the real issue: we should be waging war against the Tory policy of immigration, the Lineker and BBC fracas is a distraction!
This Tory government is disgusting: they are incompetent, 40 years of Tory policies have driven our economy into the ground, especially Brexit and Liz Truss’ budget, and now they are trying to scapegoat migrants, which is a distraction from their own incompetence.
Unfortunately this Linker episode is in danger of being another layer of distraction away from the migration issue, we need to be careful to remember who the real problem is – the Tory party!
This material is relevant to anyone who cares about people, the issue of globalisation and global development and also media studies.
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The Guardian (2015) Refugee rhetoric echoes 1938 summit before Holocaust, UN official warns.