Restoring the balance: We know what's on the Home Office's so-called 'racist' vans; here's the response from human rights organisation Liberty.

Restoring the balance: We know what’s on the Home Office’s so-called ‘racist’ vans; here’s the response from human rights organisation Liberty.

Those of us who are lucky enough not to live in London have yet to see the amazing advertising vans that have been conveying instructions to Conservative-leaning voters, to treat with hatred, suspicion and contempt anybody who is not a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant.

It seems clear that these vehicles are intended to promote racism and heighten racial tension, setting British citizens against each other – because the aim is to encourage the suspicion that another person may be an illegal immigrant – in the same way Coalition policy on social security set citizens against each other by pretending it was commonplace for individuals to receive more in benefits than in paid work.

According to the Public Order Act 1986, it is an offence for a person to publish threatening, abusive or insulting material if this is intended to stir up hatred against any group in the UK, defined by reference to colour, race, nationality, citizenship or ethnic or national origins, or if it is likely to stir up hatred with regard to all the circumstances.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 added an offence of intentional harassment – that it is an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, intending to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress. There is a defence that the conduct of the accused was reasonable. This Act was introduced by Michael Howard, who spoke in favour of the advertising vans on the BBC’s Any Questions on Friday.

The Unite union has been seeking legal advice about whether the Home Office-sponsored vans – running a week-long ‘pilot’ scheme that could be expanded to the entire country – incited racial hatred, which implies that their message was intended for domestic consumption, rather than for the benefit (sorry) of illegal aliens.

The message on the vans reads as follows: “In the UK illegally? GO HOME OR FACE ARREST. Text HOME to [a number] for free advice and help with travel documents.”

A stamp in the top-right corner reads: “106 arrests last week in your area.”

The Home Office Twitter account spent the week-long pilot period tweeting messages about the number of illegal immigrants it wished to claim had been detected or turned themselves in – and even transmitted photographs of suspects in a move that is certain to undermine claims that it was not trying to incite hatred.

And spot-checks have been taking place at railway stations, where people who were notably not white were stopped, apparently at random, by immigration officers wearing stab vests who demanded to see identification proving they were in the UK legally. It seems they became unreasonably aggressive when asked what right they had to behave like this without direct cause for suspicion.

Immigration minister Mark Harper has rejected claims that people were targeted because of their race, confirming that the law demands that officers need reason to believe an offence had been committed before stopping anybody.

He said the street operations “involved immigration officers talking to people in the local area and, where there was a reason to do so, asking questions in relation to immigration status”. Are we to take it, then, that his underlings were inviting local people to act as informants, ‘dobbing in’ people they suspected (or possibly, simply didn’t like and wanted to put into trouble)?

Harper’s argument was severely undermined when he admitted he could not reveal the different ethnicities of the people who were stopped, and their numbers, because it is not recorded – officials were told to take down only the names, dates of birth and nationalities of people they stopped.

So they didn’t record information that is vital in determining whether they have been breaking the law. Have we heard about that dodge before, Iain Duncan Smith?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating.

All of the above is the latest in the Coalition government’s continuing war against immigrants – let’s drop the word ‘illegal’ from the issue. The national debate is framed around people who come into this country – legally or not – and either take employment here or claim benefits.

The facts appear to show that the hysteria surrounding this has been blown completely out of proportion.

There is an argument to be made about enforcement of illegal immigration laws, but it is about ‘people smuggling’, cheap labour and forced labour – not about people coming here to take your job or claim benefits that they don’t deserve.

According to Scriptonite Daily, “the UK has a lower immigrant population than almost any ‘developed’ nation, these immigrants are mostly assessed via a Points Based System, only seven per cent are asylum seekers, and only 33 per cent of asylum claims are accepted.

“There is no open door.

“Finally, the immigrant population does not have access to a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens.”

Owen Jones, speaking on Any Questions, voiced the belief that “the Conservatives, fearful of a threat from UKIP, are using taxpayers’ money to tap into people’s fears and prejudices… What we’re seeing is government-funded vans with ‘Go home’ emblazoned on them. That is a term long-associated with knuckle-dragging racists.

“We’re seeing spot-checks and racial profiling of people at tube stations. We have a woman on the news… she was born in Britain; she was told she was stopped because she ‘didn’t sound British’. And we have the official Home Office [Twitter] account being used to send gleeful tweets which show people being thrown into vans with a hashtag, ‘#immigrationoffenders’.

“Is this the sort of country you want to live in, where the Conservatives use taxpayers’ money to inflame people’s fears and prejudices in order to win political advantage? Because I don’t think most people do want that to happen.”

Moreover, it seems the authorities have created a perfect opportunity to start rounding up anybody deemed “undesirable” by the powers-that-be. Greece is already rounding up people of unorthodox sexuality, drug addicts, prostitutes, immigrants and the poor and transferring them to internment and labour camps.

Will the UK follow suit? Only last week we learned that the Coalition government was planning to expand its ‘residential Workfare for the disabled’, rounding up people with disabilities and putting them into modern-day workhouses where someone else would profit and they would receive benefits alone – because that’s how Workfare works. Now this.

This blog was criticised a couple of days ago, by a commenter invoking Godwin’s Law after an article comparing the new workhouses with Nazi concentration camps.

Every day it becomes easier to make comparisons between the current UK government and the Nazis, or other fascist-style institutions. How long will people watch and accept it before they realise what is happening?

And when will they decide to act?

When it’s too late, perhaps?

What’s your opinion?


  1. […] Those of us who are lucky enough not to live in London have yet to see the amazing advertising vans that have been conveying instructions to Conservative-leaning voters, to treat with hatred, suspi…  […]

  2. J August 4, 2013 at 7:38 am - Reply

    People invoke Godwin’s Law because they want to end the discussion. They can’t argue against the comparison so they misuse the Law.

    I don’t think we’ll ever be seeing concentration camps, because that’s too brazen. I don’t doubt that the Government wants people dead, but I think they’d rather they killed themselves or just died from exacerbated illnesses.

    The return of workhouses is a definite possibility. It would have a lot of public support. The same public that think it’s not racist to stop people and demand ‘papers’ based on the colour of their skin.

    I am worried about where this county is heading. Things definitely need to change. And soon.

    • I remember the last Tory government, the one that actually got elected, their corruption and evil was legendary. I can easily see the return of the workhouse and labour camps for the “undeserving poor,” dissidents, free thinkers, persons of unconventional lifestyle and appearance etc.

    • Franko August 4, 2013 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Actually the majority of concentration camps were work camps not, as commonly believed, death camps. Of course they don’t want us dead, not until they squeezed every last drop then can out of us.

      • Mike Sivier August 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm - Reply

        The word ‘concentration’ referred to a concentration of people in a single place, and you’re right, mostly for work. I feel sure I made this clear in a previous article but your comment is welcome anyway.

      • J August 5, 2013 at 9:34 am - Reply

        Fair point. We won’t see gas chambers then, but if disabled people do get forced into workhouses then many will get worked to death.

  3. Edward Melville August 4, 2013 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Yep. Not blowing my own trumpet. But think I pointed out some of the things you said several weeks ago. But appear right in many ways in my opinion…safe there I think ?

  4. Brian Lovett August 4, 2013 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Not in my name!!!

  5. Nick August 4, 2013 at 8:05 am - Reply

    no one cares a damn no one has come to the rescue of the sick and disabled who have died going through the welfare reform bill there still dying but still no ones stepped forward

    And they wont step forward for emigrants either and when the Tories win the next election they will up the anti and repress all sorts of people and still i don’t believe that anyone will step forward

    this country is in the quick lane to become like china a country of work hard for low wages and repression and death for those that don’t work and i think that’s a pretty clear picture for all to see over the coming years

    • Mike Sivier August 4, 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

      People HAVE stepped forward for the sick and disabled but unfortunately it takes time to work our defence through the system. The shame – the real shame – should be felt by gutless members of the Coalition (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) who followed their party lines like good little robots and voted these policies into law without a single thought for the consequences.

      • Nick August 4, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

        a few like us is not going to make it despite our best efforts. the world is changing it’s sleep walking on it’s way to a communist world despite the so called hatred of communism by the USA and UK even china have dropped the use of the word communism the USA and UK also no longer refer to china as a communist state

        The usa/uk have always loved slave labour and only tolerate foreigners as there cheep labour

        when did a prime minister ever visit Egypt or Tunisia/India etc for a holiday ? never

        when did a prime minister ever have a foreigner in his cabinet ? never

        when has a prime minister ever had a foreigner as a friend or adviser ? never

        when did a prime minister ever live in the same street as foreigner ? never

        The public need to understand on WHAT David Cameron stands for and not on what he SAYS which has always been a load of bullxxxx but very convincing none the less

        when did a prime minister ever write his own speeches ? never he leaves it to someone who no one knows but who can talk a good story

        when did a prime minister go to the country on his own terms at an election and stand there and make his own views known ? never he leaves it to someone with money and power normally from overseas there again talking up a good story one that’s sounds convincing knowing full well the public are suckers and will fall for a David Cameron bullxxxx

        David Cameron and co have no moral values and their minds are only active in the destruction of other people who are beneath them for those at the top however you can expect a tax break

  6. wrjones2012 August 4, 2013 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Whilst those of us who believe in justice and fairness for all will naturally view this with abhorrence,it should not really surprise us.The Tories have historically operated on a divide and rule basis.

  7. Alex Casale August 4, 2013 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Systematic and nationwide attempt by the government to stir up racial hatred and intolerance in the country, in order that their heinous onslaught on the poor, disabled, young, children, elderly etc., will be pushed to the background, and they can carry on with their genocide of these people. (Hitleresque?)

  8. […] Those of us who are lucky enough not to live in London have yet to see the amazing advertising vans that have been conveying instructions to Conservative-leaning voters, to treat with hatred, suspi…  […]

  9. teessideaag August 4, 2013 at 9:28 am - Reply
  10. Alex Casale August 4, 2013 at 9:36 am - Reply

    It beggars belief. Besides the probable illegal, and immoral side of this racist attack, I cannot help but wonder how much the taxpayer is coughing up to pay for the vans, the police, immigration officers, arrests, court appearances and possible deportation. There must be a balance sheet somewhere to show how much the government spends on all this targeting of people on the street, and the ‘savings’ to the taxpayer. I want to know! Unfortunately it appears that people have moved beyond apathy, beyond skepticism into deep cynicism.

    • bob archer. August 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      another evil act by a morally repugnant,sub-human government. come on somebody,step forward,blow the trumpet,a revolt by the masses is the only way this mob will take any notice.

  11. Daria Magor-Edwards August 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Having lived in many countries as a British Forces dependant and having seen the lack of civil liberties, propaganda, lack of basic human rights, freedom of thought and speech I came home to this country in 1973 feeling a sense of relief that I was now in a country whose society was fair, just, compassionate, held human and civil rights as a prime directive and a place I could feel safe.

    I have been making comparisons of what is occuring here with the events that unfolded in pre-world warII Nazi Germany for some considerable time.

    The evidence that we are now living in a faciist police state is incontravertable and unequivocal.

    A generation of men women and children died to keep our country a free democracy.

    Did they die in vain?

    I am very, very frightened, more so than when my family was caught up in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

  12. Thomas M August 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    It’s one law for them and one law for us. If I incited racism or starved the disabled I’d quite rightly get nicked for it. (Sorry if this comes through more then once.)

  13. Patrick Sudlow August 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on patricktsudlow and commented:
    A the Conservatives trying to turn us in another State of Israel or a version of apartheid South Africa? Where only a certain class of people are able to walk the streets freely, without fear or intimidation.

  14. Jef August 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I think that although it’s transparent what the governments do and why they do it, and as you all say above, they really are nasty, NASTY pieces of work (as we hear in the news week in, week out) ‘The People’ of Britain will mostly not do what those poli-tic-ians (greek for ‘many tics’ :) think we will do. Most people are pretty decent and that goes for both foreigners and brits!

    Let’s each as we go about our lives, live the change we want to see – the great quote from Ganhi. Also, we can’t singly help ‘the masses’ but we CAN do small gestures of kindness and generosity wherever it’s needed. If we have the intention to help others (not in a stupid way, as each must make effort themselves) it’s not long before we will spot the opportunity.

    I don’t think the people of this country are going to the dogs, not one bit – the opposite!

    with best wishes, and let’s drink to the coming changing tide!

    • Mike Sivier August 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      What do other readers think?

    • Daria Magor-Edwards August 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Very well said Miranda!
      An uplifting post.
      It’s good folk like you that gives me hope.
      All the best to you.

  15. Wolf Baginski August 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    The claims that this checks at stations are “intelligence led” just don’t add up.

    1: The intelligence has to be linking a suspect with the place where they are stopped. What is there about somebody passing through a station that can even make somebody a suspect? They’re using a train, and there’s nothing that says somebody cannot use a train if they don’t have valid work permit.

    2: They obviously don’t know where their suspects live or, possibly, work. If they knew a workplace, they would go there, and they would have reason to check all the workers, and the company records. If it’s where somebody lives, again they can check all present. OK, in either case, they would need a warrant. Not every magistrate is reliable as a check on warrants, but they obviously didn’t want to take that chance.

    3: Even if their intelligence was good, in that they had a clear claim of illegality made, and a solid description, picking out a face in a crowd is hard. This is, tactically, a lousy situation for carrying out a stop.

    4: The behaviour is consistent with having some vague evidence of some sort. If they know the person the are looking for is non-white, and has a beard, it’s silly to stop whites. But the pattern of arrests suggest that they had a set of descriptions which could be applied to anyone. It looks less like intelligence and more like a list of excuses to justify bigoted choices.

    5: How might any one of us prove that we are lawfully able to have a job in the UK. I suspect the only document that can do this is a UK Passport.

    I am not sure, looking at all this, whether it would be safer to visit London in 2013 or 1943. I am not sure whether to pick the UKBA or the Luftwaffe.

    I do think the Luftwaffe were more honest in what they were trying to do.

    • Nick August 5, 2013 at 9:44 am - Reply

      there is no intelligence it’s the same as the DWP who force the sick not to leave there house and if they do their benefits will be stopped
      i have had this problem for 33 years
      it’s just a fear tactic

      • Mike Sivier August 5, 2013 at 9:51 am - Reply

        It’s the Home Office doing this one, Nick.

        • Nick August 5, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

          agree mike it’s just the Tories way of saying to ukip we don’t like foreigners either and we’ll clamp down on them so you don’t have to kills the ukip vote dead

  16. anon August 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    “the Coalition government was planning to expand its ‘residential Workfare for the disabled’, rounding up people with disabilities and putting them into modern-day workhouses where someone else would profit and they would receive benefits alone..”

    Except I doubt that the disabled will receive a penny in benefits once detained in these camps

    Any benefits that might have been due, will be clawed back to cover the cost of the prisoner’s bunk bed in a dormitory, their uniform, their stinking wooden clogs and their daily ration of bread and gruel (and how likely will concessions be for anyone with dietary restrictions or needing a private.room or special equipment?)

    No doubt when prisoners (or should that be ‘stock’?) are admitted they will be ‘assessed’ by an Atos lackey to ‘review’ any prescribed medications and determine that they are not needed because according to UNUM’s BPS model, disease and disability are ‘all in the mind’.

    The attempts yet again to introduce a ‘right to die’ are bloody terrifying seen in the light of these forced labour camps.

    • Nick August 6, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

      the right to die will become law if the Tories hold power that’s for sure that and the withdrawal of the human rights act for the sick and disabled will make sure only the fittest of the sick and disabled who are going to go to work will live as for everyone else me included we will be left to die so will be making plans for myself and as David Cameron would say “you know it makes sense you don’t wont to be a burden to all for the rest of your life”

      and when he puts it like that you then realize there nothing worth living for and is true

  17. […] This blog’s article on the subject added that not only this, but other governments (like that in Greece) had created an opportunity to start rounding up anybody deemed “undesirable” by the state. “Greece is already rounding up people of unorthodox sexuality, drug addicts, prostitutes, immigrants and the poor and transferring them to internment and labour camps,” it stated. […]

  18. […] of any kind is out of control? These are people who need to get to grips with the facts. As reported by this blog and others back in August, the UK has a lower immigrant population than almost any ‘developed’ nation; they are […]

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