Friday, 13 February 2009

'Foreigners on benefits' story of the day

'The family of Iraqi illegal migrants who simply sat in a lorry cab in Calais to be driven here for a new life on benefits', reads a headline in the 13 Feb 09 Daily Mail.

'How one word gets immigrants a meal ticket into Britain,' says the front page of the same day's Express.

But when certain parts of the story don't quite add up, you begin to doubt all of it.

For example, the Mail version claims the family have 'a new life on benefits' in the headline. It goes on to say they are 'entitled to claim £170 a week in benefits,' without saying they are actually claiming any (which, if they were, I am sure it would be written in the story far more prominently). But then a few sentences from the end of the story, it says: 'It is unclear exactly what benefits the family are entitled to claim.'

From 'they are entitled to £170 a week in benefits' to 'unclear what benefits the family are entitled to claim,' within a few column inches.

The Express states 'they are receiving around £170 a week in benefits.' Around? Do any of these reporters have the slightest idea?

Another curious part of the story is the quote carried in both papers that the father of the family said: 'It's a little bit less easy under Brown than with Blair'. That's quite an intricate sentence for a man who we are told knew almost no English, as if some reporter asked a very leading question...not that they ever would do such a thing, of course. But how does Faradh Maruj know this? We are told the family lived in Calais for 3 months before coming to the UK in November '08. So they never actually tried to get into Britain while Blair was Prime Minister, so how would they know?

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