Wednesday, May 17, 2006

BBC Spin on “illegal immigrants” John Reid Interview

I watch BBC Breakfast in the morning, which on the whole is a great programme.

This morning I caught an interview between Sian Williams the presenter and John Reid the Home Secretary. Overall I thought John Reid was very open and honest about the immigration issues and explained how it was impossible to put a figure on the illegal immigrants in the UK because being illegal they did not pass through border controls and were not otherwise registered.

Sian Williams was somewhat aggressive asking closed questions with a very pointed drive to get a sound bite. If you watch the interview Sian comes across as cynical and un-professional, think Jeremy Paxman without the skill.

I then read the news headlines on the BBC website later in the day, where they claim John Reid blamed the whole problem on the last Tory government and had no clue how many illegal immigrants there were.

That story has now been changed to reflect Prime ministers question time, so I am unable to confirm the source. However other media outlets picked up the story.

To quote from the interview:

Truth of the matter is, we don’t have a precise figure for this, not only do I not have it but none of my predecessors way back to Michael Howard and the last government… partly because people who come here illegally hide themselves.

The system of counting those who are leaving the country as illegal immigrants was again abolished under the last conservative govt. I make no complaint about that…

That was pretty much his entire commentary on the Tory government, not so much a criticism of the Tories but an agreement that no party had solved or created the problem.

In the same interview John Reid stated that the govt was beating targets for removing failed asylum seekers, the one area of immigration policy where a govt can make positive progress. This was largely ignored in later reports; good news is not so newsworthy.

This story is likely to run for days with the media focusing on the alleged incompetence of the govt. With Charles Clarke succesfully removed it is too early for the media to go for a scalp but even if they did John Reid is smarter than your average politician.

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