Tuesday, 2 June 2009

What Freddie really said

An interview by Andrew Flintoff in GQ magazine has the tabloids buzzing with excitement.

Flintoff's tirade against migrants and yobs, says the Express. 'Why can't hotel staff speak English?': Andrew Flintoff in bizarre anti-immigration outburst, reports the Mail. Freddie appeals for cap on immigration, claims the Star. The Sun, perhaps not surprisingly given their campaign against knife crime, focus on another angle of his remarks: Horrified Freddie raps rap music.

Here's what he actually said:

'I have no problems with a multicultural society, I think that is to the benefit of the country. But you have to be careful what levels you take it to. It annoys me when I phone a hotel receptionist in my own country and they don't understand what I am saying because they don't speak English. I think that's wrong, it's nothing to do with being politically correct or incorrect, it's just not right.'

As someone who has recently spent some time trying to understand Virgin Media's Indian call centre workers, I can have some sympathy.

But how does the Star turn those remarks into him wanting a 'cap on immigration'? He says no such thing.

He went on to talk about his concerns such as knife and gun crime, homelessness and the financial crisis. But the Express manages to claim he said 'soaring immigration was the cause of the country’s problems'. He said no such thing. It was a different part of the interview.

It is also very odd that the Express use the word 'tirade' and the Mail 'bizarre rant'. How many times have we read those papers complaining (and exaggerating the case) about schoolkids not having English as their first language? Or their support for the 'patriotic' postmaster who refused to serve customers who did not speak English?

Or is it just normal and them being patriotic and questioning for them to make such statements, but a good story that can be made into a controversy when a sportsman or celebrity does the same.

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