A CAMPAIGN launched by the Home Office to crack down on illegal
immigrants is a "macho PR stunt" that "feeds into a racist agenda",
the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has said.
The Home Office started piloting a campaign last week whereby
vans toured six London boroughs, bearing slogans such as: "In the
UK illegally? Go home or face arrest." Speaking on Radio 4's
Sunday programme this week, Bishop Baines said: "Of course
the country needs a proper immigration policy. . . But you don't
solve the problem of not having an effective policy . . . by
running a campaign like this." The campaign served to categorise
people, he said, "and then we know from history that if you
categorise people, you dehumanise them."
Bishop Baines said that he did not think that the campaign
itself was racist, but insisted that "it feeds into a racist
agenda." He criticised the Home Office for broadcasting on its
Twitter account how many suspected illegal immigrants had been
arrested each day: "There is something very nasty going on in
Writing on his blog on Sunday, Bishop Baines
described the campaign as "a macho PR stunt that will achieve
little, but cause real damage to language, culture, and community.
. . If the Government wants to address immigration, it should do so
by sorting out a workable policy and ensure that those who do apply
for asylum or a right to remain are treated hu- manely,
efficiently, and effectively - and, if appropriate, prevented from
entering the country in the first place. To distract attention with
displays of hardness has everything to do with political PR, and
little to do with reality."
The Home Office announced last week that 139 "immigration
offenders" had been arrested "as part of a day of high-profile . .
. activity to tackle illegal working".
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced on Friday
that it would be investigating the campaign after receiving
complaints. It said in a statement that some complainants had been
concerned that the phrase "go home" was "reminiscent of
slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past and
could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in