Friday, 12 June 2009

Slack - his name fits his fact-checking

Notorious exaggerator and Migrationwatch poodle James Slack is up to his usual tricks, with another anti-immigrant, anti-Labour story in the Mail.

He says the Home Office has issued a document explaining how immigrants can 'earn' citizenship in six years rather than eight by doing 50 hours of unpaid voluntary work, including working at soup kitchens, helping out at a museum or being a school governor. Needless to say, these aren't the focus of the story, because that might make the idea seem, you know, reasonable.

And this is the Mail, so we can't have that. It focuses instead on the fact that trade union activity and canvassing for a political party are also on the list. And they turn that into this:

Want a British passport? Just stand on a picket line or canvas for Labour - 'Migrants will win fast-track passports if they stand on picket lines or knock on doors asking people to vote Labour, it emerged last night'.

Of course, earning citizenship is nothing like as easy as 'just' standing on a picket line or doing some canvassing, although the average tabloid reader probably thinks that headline is literally accurate.

Moreover, the rules are not about Labour - nine paragraphs later, it admits that the canvassing 'also covers the Tories and Liberal Democrats'. But Mr Slack, didn't you say they would be asking people to vote Labour?

Slack has form on pushing this idea that the country is full of immigrants who have the audacity to want to vote, and the implication is that Labour allows it because the newcomers vote for them.

In the final line of the article, it says that 'the earned citizenship scheme has been delayed by nine months, to December 2010', at which point it is probable that Labour will be in opposition. So it may not happen anyway. And it is hard to work out exactly what the status of these guidelines are - the Home Office website doesn't appear to mention them, and as the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill is still going through Parliament, it's likely that this is simply a list for consultation. But Slack has never let the facts get in the way of a misleading story...

[EDIT - 13 June: The Star has also written an incorrect headline with A Brit passport if you picket and vote Labour. Voting Labour gets you a passport? The story, obviously, does not support that claim.]

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