Most recently yesterday, when idiotic judge Ian Trigger spouted off about something he appears to know nothing about. The case in front of him was of a drug dealer who, when his visa had expired, claimed asylum, was refused and then he disappeared. As he was here illegally he couldn't have been claiming benefits anyway. But eventhough neither the judge provided no evidence to back up his wild claims, all the usual papers decided he was telling the truth.
You can tell, because the Express put Foreign spongers scandal, by judge on the front page, and the Mail's Hundreds of thousands of migrants here for handouts, says senior judge includes the word 'senior' just so you know he's an impeccably reliable source. The Express relied on their usual suspects - Damian Green, Migrationwatch and the Taxpayers Alliance - to back up the 'truth' of what the judge had said. Inevitably, the BNP picked up the story too.
The Express sub-head decided to say 'hundreds of thousands abuse benefits', as if claiming benefits is automatically abusing benefits when a 'foreigner' does it. Which is not only wrong, but is also not what the judge said - the word 'abuse' does not appear in any of his comments.
And what he did actually say was bollocks. He referred to 'people like you' when addressing the Jamaican drug dealer eventhough he came to the UK on a visitor's visa so wouldn't have been eligible for benefits then either.
And are 'hundreds and hundreds of thousands' coming to the UK just to 'avail themselves of the generous benefits'? Well no, because the benefits aren't 'generous' and they really aren't as easy to get as he and the papers - and that fool Carole Malone - seem to believe.
Look at the still-hardly-covered report which showed those workers from Eastern Europe were in work and paying 37% more in taxes than they claimed in benefits.
Or the 2008 IPPR report which showed:
Very few post-enlargement migrants claim state benefits (only 2.4% of those registering for National Insurance numbers between May 2004 and December 2007 did so in order to claim benefits)
Or even a figure the Mail itself has reported - that in 2007, Eastern European migrants claimed £170million, which amounts to a fraction of overall social security benefits expenditure. (Total managed expenditure on social security benefits in 2007/8 amounted to £140 billion - £170 million is 0.12% of that.)
It's worth reading the government guidelines for who can and can't receive benefits. For example, non-EU nationals with limited leave have to wait two years to claim. Those from the newly expanded EU countries (so-called A2 and A8 nationals) can claim benefits related to housing if they are working, but have to work continuously for 12 months before having access to other benefits. In other words, by working, they have paid in to the system. Asylum seekers get £42 a week.
This is what the judge called 'generous benefits'.
But back to the cutting of asylum seeker support payments. The Independent has written an editorial lambasting the plans, and put them in the right context. The Refugee Council - a group the tabloids often 'forget' to contact for a quote' - issued a press release which stated:
These changes mean they will receive a little over half of what the government says is the minimum people need to live on.
But the Mail report the story as Asylum seeker payouts to be cut as officials admit they are 'too generous', thus confirming all the prejudices that already exist. The story even repeats that nonsense about £1,700 grants that wasn't true two days ago, and isn't true now.
And predictability the messageboards are alive with deeply unpleasant, xenophobic and mostly totally inaccurate anti-immigration ranting. For example:
there's more "foreign nationals" in this country than natural born brits, we're the minority now - J, blackburn lancs, 30/7/2009 10:57
Natural born Brits are a minority? Errr, J, no they aren't. There just aren't.
Why does a single asylum seeker get given more than the basic state pension? - Eleanor, UK, 30/7/2009 11:05
Basic state pension - £95.25 per week. Last time I checked, that's more than £35.15, Eleanor.
reduced to £35.15 a week!, NO NO NO. it should be reduced to £00.00 a week, why should we pay a penny, how much are the french paying them?, nothing i bet, hence why they want to be here - Ian, Sussex, 30/7/2009 9:36
Except, Ian, the French pay them 10 euros a day, which is £59.74 per week, which is also more.
We should not have this problem.If they are in danger why dont they seek asylum in the first safe country.How many French asylum seekers are there - cockneyrebel, folkestone uk, 30/7/2009
Well cockneyrebel, in the last quarter's asylum figures, France took more than the UK did.
why should they get any money at all, if we are good enough to provide them with a roof over their heads, they should be grateful for that - martha, w midlands, 30/7/2009 12:03
So Martha you think they should be happy with a roof? No food, or drink, or clothes. They may have just fled somewhere fearing for their life, and we should starve them.
How does all this crap get through the moderators when it is clearly not true? It's not a case of free speech, because the Mail bans so much which doesn't toe the line.
In fact, if you go by the comments, you get this impression from people who read the Mail: all asylum seekers are 'bogus'; all come through Calais; all are scroungers who don't deserve any sympathy or help, especially not financial help; all are coining it in.
So many say asylum seekers should receive no financial support that they either want them to starve to death, or they just don't believe the UK should provide refuge to people who experience things that these selfish bastards couldn't even imagine.
Given the endless flurry of stinking xenophobic filth the Mail shits out on a daily basis, none of that is very surprising.
But that doesn't make it any less depressing.