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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 

Scum-watch: Going soft on immigrants, but not on "Town Hall Hitlers".

In another sign of the Sun's increasing move towards something approaching liberalism, at least outside of the criminal justice system, here's a surprisingly positive leader on immigration:

THE vast majority of immigrants are decent, law-abiding people — whichever country they come from.

They work hard, claim few benefits and are grateful for what Britain has to offer — not just in higher pay and better conditions, but in friendship.

In return, most Brits are hospitable and ready to make room for well-behaved newcomers, as long as they play by our rules.

The experience of Polish builder Piotr Szepsel and his wife Anna is typical.

The couple have mixed in with neighbours and made many new friends. Piotr is a regular at his local pub and an avid Arsenal fan.

The couple work all hours to keep their heads above water, pay their taxes — and refuse to accept welfare.

Now they want to stay and raise their baby daughter, Anastazya, as a British citizen.

They are a credit to their own country — and to ours.

WE benefit from their skills and industry. THEY gain from a country which is genuinely tolerant to its migrant communities.


Now, as patronising and emphatic as it is on how immigrants must assimilate and not rock the boat by bringing any funny ideas with them, not to mention the insolence of considering claiming any benefits, can you seriously imagine a similarly mostly positive editorial in the Mail which didn't have a sting in the tail, let alone the Express? Undoubtedly, one of the reasons why the debate on immigration has become "deracialised" as Trevor Phillips said is because the latest wave has been, to use a Greg Dyke quote completely out of context, "hideously white". It's not because race itself is no longer an issue, it's because race is at the moment not involved in the discussion, or only is at the very periphery, for example in the hysteria over "Fagin's Heirs", where the Roma were wrongly implicated, or as the tabloids refer to them "gipsies". Fittingly, those who will be hit by the government's points system and restrictions now coming in will be the non-whites, while the eastern Europeans will continue to be able to come and go as they more or less please.

Some of this current approach could be linked back to Murdoch himself: he might be a stupendous hypocrite on most things, but even he realises that he can't get away with bashing immigrants too much, although "foreigners", especially the French, still get in the neck regularly. It would be nice to think that the Sun is perhaps reflecting its readers more accurately than some of the other press, but going by the reactions on MySun whenever immigration is mentioned, although hardly representative, that seems unlikely. It could be related to James Murdoch's appointment as the overseer of the UK News Corp business, as he's known to be more liberal than his father, having convinced him of the virtues of going green, but he's certainly no less tenacious over the BBC, as evidenced by his pathetic bleating about the iPlayer. The most compelling explanation though is that Wade and those around her are figuring out exactly where they want their paper to sit, still assuredly on the right, but not as stuck in the mud as the Mail and Express, moving with the times as those two inexorably age.

Don't be fooled though. The Sun can still be just as unpleasant, idiotic and over-the-top when it needs to be or when Murdoch's own interests are threatened. The signing of the talk radio blowhard Jon Gaunt and the giving of a column to the executive editor Fergus Shanahan ensures that all those bases are still covered. Shanahan's column today is typically boneheaded and offensive, a poor Richard Littlejohn-esque knock-off, tarring all councils with the same brush by using the example of one-offs, such as the man convicted for not having his bin shut and the family spied on by the local council using the powers under RIPA (not anti-terror legislation, as news organisations continue to misleadingly claim), finishing with the flourish that a vote for the Tories is the best option because "at least... you know they are desperate to impress". Those desperate to impress are always the best people to put in charge.

Oh, and not to dwell too long on the on-going Madeleine madness, but the Sun's incredibly one-sided account, which could only have been produced with direct cooperation with the McCanns, has this charming break in the middle of it:

For most of the last 12 months Kate McCann has been the embodiment of suffering — her face wracked with the unbearable agony of a mother whose child was taken to an uncertain fate. The slideshow pictures below show her pain, month by month.

Here's someone suffering - and you too can gaze on 12 different pictures of them doing so for no other reason than voyeurism. Lovely. Some things are set to never change.

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