Niall Cooper: Speak truth to power
Having been brought up a Methodist, I can’t ever quite get away from thinking of September as the start of the New Year. The next 12 (or more precisely 20) months are likely to tell us a lot about what sort of society we are (and want to be) as the 2015 general election creeps ever closer, the shape of political debates are starting to be mapped out, and the annual party political conference season gets under way at the end of the month. The omens are not looking good.
Over the summer, the Home Office kicked off a deliberately provocative campaign to target illegal immigrants, with mobile billboards touring London saying: “Go home or face arrest” and depicting the arrests of alleged illegal immigrants at tube and train stations.
A flurry of faith leaders publicly condemned this, including Patrick Lynch, the Roman Catholic Bishop for Migration, who described the billboard campaign as “inappropriate … not least because the message that is often received is that all immigrants and foreigners are unwelcome in the UK”.
Indications are that the reason for the campaign was much more to do with party politics than persuading anyone to “go home”. Even if no one left the country as a result of the billboards, the campaign will have achieved its aim: a series of headlines showing the Conservatives to be “tough on immigration”, all designed to encourage erstwhile UKIP supporters to “return” to the Tory fold at the forthcoming elections. …
Niall Cooper is director of Church Action on Poverty and convenor of the Inner Manchester Mission Network of the United Reformed Church
This is an extract from the September 2013 edition of Reform
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