Once again, the idea that something that looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true has been proved correct. This time, the pundit betting their remaining credibility in that area is the increasingly erratic and viscerally Europhobic Allison Pearson, who writes for the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph.
She has discovered a video shot at the European Parliament, listened to the sentiments aired, and concluded that these are not only true, but that the EU is plotting against its own member states and their citizens, telling her followers “‘Criticism of migration will become an offence .... and will be shut down.’ The EU plotting to silence its concerned citizens, as always”. This sounds bad. But, ultimately, only for her.
Ms Pearson has Tweeted out a statement from a now former MEP called Marcel de Graaff, who represented the Netherlands’ PVV at the European Parliament from 2014 to 2019. The PVV, or Partij voor de Vrejheid, is the domain of Geert Wilders, infamous Islamophobe and general purpose bigot, pal of Stephen Yaxley Lennon (who styles himself Tommy Robinson) and also a good friend of the Le Pens. He’s a fascist.
It gets worse: the subject on which de Graaff was speaking was the “Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration”, which, as FullFact has told, “is a list of pledges negotiated by UN members that makes a ‘collective commitment to improving cooperation on international migration.’” In other words, this is not an EU initiative, and so the EU is not plotting to do anything in relation to it. Ms Pearson didn’t bother to check that one.
Something else she didn’t bother to check was, as FullFact points out, “The document isn’t legally binding … As the Economist puts it: ‘It encourages states to co-operate on tricky cross-border matters without forcing them to do anything.’” But they add “Because the agreement isn’t legally binding, it doesn’t force member states to do anything, but some critics have said it sets the precedent for member states to take certain actions”.
The party leader she is endorsing
Could they give an example of one of those critics? “One objection aired by Dutch MEP Marcel de Graaff is that the agreement sets the precedent for countries to enact law that makes ‘criticism of migration … a criminal offence.’” And does it? Er, no: “This is incorrect. The document asks nations to ‘commit to eliminate all forms of discrimination…against all migrants.’” Criminalising criticism would likely breach human rights legislation.
They go on “Making sure migrants aren’t discriminated against is a very different thing to asking states to criminalise criticism of migration. The document explicitly says: ‘We also commit to protect freedom of expression.’” Also, “Mr de Graaff also said the compact means: ‘media outlets…that give room to criticism of migration can be shut down.’” And does it? “That’s also not correct”. Allison Pearson has endorsed a pack of lies.
So there’s no plot, no EU involvement, no censorship, no creation of new offences, and nothing being shut down. But there is a supposedly reputable journalist endorsing the far right and its continuing campaign of disinformation.
Allison Pearson is a disgrace to her profession. But you knew that already.
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