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A recent episode of the BBC Wales’ current affairs programme Week In Week Out was on the subject of refugee destitution. It followed the lives of five people in Wales, highlighting the inhumane treatment they have experienced while claiming asylum in the UK. All fled dangerous situations and came to the UK with hopes for a better life. Some of them had to leave their entire families, including children that they have not seen for many years. Although they are in some ways safer living here, the programme also showed that they have to endure extremely difficult living conditions and certainly don’t have the ‘life of Riley’ that one commentator suggests.

A glaringly obvious factual error, that we would not expect from the “reputable BBC research team”, was that one of those interviewed received the same benefits as a Welsh woman whilst her claim was being considered, a media fuelled myth that you would hope a programme such as this would be trying to combat. The reality is that Read the rest of this entry »

mainpromoThe BBC Wales sitcom ‘High Hopes’ last night injected a dose of hard realism into its usual anarchic mix of surreal comedy. The show, made by Boyd Clack and Gareth Gwenlan, is now in its 5th season, and yesterday it tackled the UK’s increasingly harsh Border regime. The episode’s synopsis reads:

The local Indian restaurant is in danger when the Immigration Department, in the guise of Adam Mosley, plot to deport its elderly patriarch. The community, led by Mam, must band together to save him before it is too late.

As it turns out this episode is so like real life it’s uncomfortable. The portrayal of UK Border Agents breaking down doors, turfing families out of their beds, using aggressive and bigoted language, though played for laughs, is remarkably familiar.

Thankfully another familiar thing in the show was the portrayal of the response of friends and neighbours of people facing deportation. As we’ve seen in Cardiff and across the country, when the Border Agency goons come knocking there’s often a concerted effort by local communities to band together to protect their neighbours.

The episode is available via BBC iPlayer until 22nd December – watch it while you can!

Tomorrow night at 9.00pm the latest ‘fly-on-the-wall’ reality TV show following around law enforcement agencies will air on the subscribtion channel Sky One. Controversially this eight-part series will be funded by £400,000 of taxpayers’ money. “Border Force” follows the activities of UK Border Agency enforcement teams at Heathrow, Dover and Calais.

This “advertiser-funded” deal with Steadfast Television out of public funds has been condemned by a wide spectrum, though RickB over at Ten Percent puts it most succinctly:   

“the most thuggish and racist arm of our security state is getting a shiny makeover for credulous idiots who no doubt will rail against ‘government spending their taxes’ on ’scroungers and foreigners’ yet are in fact having that world-view fed and formed…by government funded shows.”

According to Media watchdog Ofcom’s rules sponsor of television programmes cannot influence content or scheduling and must not affect editorial independence. However, keen to appear ‘tough on immigration” The Home Office defended what appear to be an incredibly blatant taxpayer funded propaganda:

“The important message is that it is a good use of taxpayers’ money. The series will allow the public to better understand the work of the UKBA.”

Interestingly the last TV show funded by the Home office “Beat: Life on the Street” which followed police community support officers (PCSOs) is being examined by Ofcom to see if it broke rules on programme sponsorship.

No Borders South Wales will be watching the series with interest, and will be commenting on each episode in detail.

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