In the wake of pantomime villain Abu Hamza being deported to the USA – where he has now appeared in court as the first stage in his journey through the Stateside judicial system – there just had to be an intervention by the Daily Mail’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn on the subject. And he has not disappointed his legions of devoted readers this morning.
Crims, Guv? They're all darkies, innit?!?
“Foreign criminals can sleep easily in soft-touch Britain. No wonder Captain Hook feels hard done by” proclaims the headline, followed by the usual recycling of “Yuman Rights”, which are once again held to be “pernicious”. We apparently can’t even deport crims back to EU countries, so Dick tells us. Except his fellow hacks are complaining about the cost of, er, deporting folks to EU countries.
Ah, but he has an example, a woman who was convicted but not sent back to Romania. Yes, Dicky boy, because her son speaks English as his first language and he’s at school here. I expect that in the retelling the Mail may find that a cat is also involved. But when Littlejohn comes to quoting some figures, he and his paper come badly unstuck – and not for the first time.
“Scotland Yard has announced it is arresting almost 200 foreign criminals a day in London. That’s every single day, every week, every year. Call it 73,000 a year in round figures” he asserts. Wrong. The “almost 200” is the number of suspects arrested. Of these, just a third are held and questioned. So that 73,000 is in fact more like 24,000 – but only if all those questioned are convicted.
That’s doubtful, to say the least. And merely being found in possession of a foreign sounding name is not yet a criminal offence in England and Wales. Let’s do a quick and dirty calculation: if all of those 24,000 were convicted and half went to jail, that would be more foreign nationals in jail that the entire foreign national prisoner population. And that’s just for Greater London.
Replicated throughout the country, that would be around 70,000 new prisoners every year, so either they’re being banged up for less than eight weeks on average – doubtful if there are instances of murder, robbery, rape and other violent crimes – or only a fraction of those questioned are actually being convicted. Put more directly, Richard Littlejohn is once again being casually dishonest.
And he’s also slipping in the odd slice of casual racism: “Every time the Yard puts out one of its ‘Britain’s Most Wanted’ posters, at least 75 per cent of them have foreign names”. Ho yus. So what’s a foreign name, then, Dicky boy? What qualifies a name to be British? I never knew there were rules that had to be obeyed before names could be considered not to be foreign. You learn something every day.
This column is intolerant, dishonest and racist by turns. No change there, then.