There are many examples where the tabloid press in this country has been guilty of stirring up racism among the general public through deliberately publishing untruths or distorting facts about migrants, minorities, Muslims and others.
Here’s one such example from arguably the worst offender of the lot – the Daily Express. Back in March, the paper published a completely misleading article titled ‘SADIQ KHAN BOASTS OF 1.5 MILLION NEW PEOPLE TO CAPITAL AS HE REVEALS ‘SHOCK LONDON PLAN”.
Now, what the article was reporting on was the London Mayor’s Clean Air strategy. He was at an event talking about plans to make London a greener and more sustainable city. Part of those plans involve effective planning for estimated future population growth. During the course of the discussion, he said:
‘you better remember that our population (of London) is rising, it is currently 8.5 million, by 2020 it will be 9 million and by 2030 it will be 10 million.’
Khan (pictured) was simply referencing likely population trends. Big city populations usually tend to continually increase over time – if not affected by things such as war, disease outbreak or large-scale flight – due to many factors including increasing life expectancy and geographic expansion as well as influx of new residents. It is a key role of the London Mayor to plan according to projected increases, as well as to attract new residents to the city and make it an economically thriving place.
Yet the Express deliberately twisted Sadiq Khan’s words to make it appear as if he was making a pro-immigration statement. But firstly, Khan wasn’t ‘boasting’ about 1.5 million new people. He was merely stating the likelihood of population increase. Which, as previously mentioned, occurs due to various factors.
Secondly, there is no ‘shock London plan’. Khan was discussing plans around environmental sustainability, which is no shock to anyone with an ounce of awareness of environmental challenges facing big cities over the next few decades. By implying that there is some sort of secret plan to increase immigration, the Express is intentionally trying to mislead and stir up fear.
Finally, even if Khan did have such a plan and was boasting about it, he has NO CONTROL over immigration. London has no border controls, and arrivals and departures to and from the country as a whole have nothing to do with the London Mayor.
You can see what kind of image the Express is trying to conjure up in readers’ minds. Muslim Mayor lets slip his fiendish plot to fill London with migrants. This appears to be exactly what has happened over the past few days as, for some reason, the story has been picked up by various right-wing/nationalist/patriotic websites and social media pages, generating ridiculous levels of outrage among readers.
On Friday, it was picked up by a Facebook page called British Voice where it has been shared over 600 times and has generated nearly 1000 comments. Comments such as:
‘I wonder what religion these people will be…’
‘Sack this prick, he’s bringing our country to its knees’
‘Under Khan, London is polluted with immigrants. It’s becoming a Khan caliphate’
‘All Muslims no doubt. Londonstan’
‘Traitor…pure Islamic piece of shit’
‘1.5 million more terrorists’
‘This man has to be immediately beheaded!’
‘He just wants to foul our streets with more of his kind’
Another Facebook page, an anti-EU page called Get Britain Out, had a similar number of shares and comments:
‘Twenty years and you won’t be able to go out… if you don’t like the sound of being overrun your (sic) a racist’
‘How to get elected as mayor of Londonistan? Import at many Moslums (sic) as needed. This biased Britain hater needs to be ousted’
‘He’s organising a takeover, he needs to be gone’
These aren’t isolated comments that have been cherry-picked. This is just a tiny sample of hundreds of vile abusive comments, inspired by a mainstream newspaper wilfully misreporting the facts and twisting the comments of an elected official about making London a greener city. You’d be hard-pressed to find a clearer example of fake news promoting hatred and division.
Yet this is what happens when the likes of the Mail, the Express and the Sun print their distorted version of the news. They get picked up by far-right websites and social media pages and circulated as the truth.
The link between the tabloid press and racism is clear to see. It’s time something was done about it.
Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.
Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.