Syed Kamall, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, joined the Leave campaign. I read it in the Evening Standard on my way home from work. It was also reported in most of the major newspapers. BBC Online obviously considered it a non-story, despite the fact that it was considered to be a major blow to David Cameron. They, instead, tagged it on the end of the more extensively covered sentiments of Chuka Umunna and Tony Blair.
The key issue that led to Mr Kamall’s decision was discrimination against non-EU citizens in immigration policy. Indeed, many people are concerned by the sinister mistreatment of non-EU citizens in this country, from unequal pay in the labour market to forced separation from family.
The British people are often asking for facts before they cast their vote and the BBC are meant to present us with facts, however, since the revelations of BBC inaction against Jimmy Savile, I begin to wonder if the culture of ‘cover up’ is their modus operandi. When Kirsty Wark interviewed Will Self and Munira Mirza on Newsnight on the same day, the topic of discrimination was brought to an abrupt close as if this was an inconvenient truth that needed to be buried (not entirely in the spirit of investigative journalism). It made me wonder about 1930s Germany. Did people just turn a blind eye to discriminatory laws against a minority group or did the propaganda machine ensure that they were simply not told?
Fortress Europe and the vicious discrimination against non-EU citizens is a serious ethical issue. Australia had an immigration policy from 1901 to 1973 that stopped non-Europeans from coming to live in Australia. It was called the White Australia Policy. Today, Australians look back in shame, yet we adopt a similar policy. It may not be exactly the same in theory, but in practice we have an immigration policy that favours people from a largely white continent.
As a Labour voter, I know there is a strong left wing case for leaving the EU. There is a social and moral conversation that is just as important as the economic one that the BBC completely ignores. Will continued membership prevent rail renationalisation? How safe is the NHS from TTIP? What is the effect of the CAP on developing countries? On this last question, maybe things have improved since the reform of the CAP, but how would anyone know? None of us are being given the facts.
Apologies for the lengthy rant. Maybe I have been too hard on the BBC. The omission of the Syed Kamall story may not be entirely their fault. Maybe they just didn’t know who he was? After all, he is a member of the European Parliament.