The Daily Mail's hypocrisy over Eastern European immigration is crinimal [sic]
The Daily Mail's Femail section online today had a fluff piece from Sarah Sands "If homeowners who pay workmen in cash are criminals then I'm a middle class crook". It comes with one of those 'cute' Daily Mail cartoons intended to signify that the article shouldn't be taken too seriously.
The problem is, as jokey as the piece is, I couldn't work out when tax evasion, and encouraging the employment of people on levels below the minimum wage, probably without insurance or an adequate health and safety regime wasn't illegal. And became a good thing.
"Researchers say that a third of us pay cash in hand to avoid tax; a third of us keep money when given too much change; one in five steals goods from work; one in ten of us doesn't pay the TV licence or disclose faults in goods that we sell second-hand; and many of us are guilty of inflating our insurance claims.
Are all of these truly criminal acts?
Obviously, we should strive to stick to the law, but it would take a man of granite to argue with a builder whose tender is based on a cash payment that not only presents him with a lower tax bill but also gives the householder the chance to avoid VAT."
The whole article put me in mind of the impassioned speech by Monty Burns at the end of The Simpsons episode about the trillion dollar bill:
Well, if it's a crime to love one's country, then I'm guilty. And if it's a crime to steal a trillion dollars from our government and hand it over to communist Cuba, then I'm guilty of that too. And if it's a crime to bribe a jury, then so help me, I'll soon be guilty of that!
And if you've got any doubt about the contempt Sarah Sands genuinely holds for the Eastern European workers whose gangmaster's palms she is prepared to happily grease, you only need to look at the fact that she talks of:
Paying cash to Polish builders and Czechoslovakian nannies
Keen students of European history will have noted that Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on January 1st 1993.
Well, I suppose in fairness, Sarah has only had 14 years to update her concepts of Eastern European geography.
What annoys me though is the sheer hypocrisy in a paper implacably opposed to immigration from Eastern European EU contries printing pieces that say, nudge nudge, well, paying the Poles to do our dirty work around the home is fine between us middle classes isn't it?
In the last month alone the Daily Mail that has brought us such Eastern European friendly stories as:
- Polish homosexuals flee persecution in exodus to UK
- The British workers denied jobs 'because they can't speak Polish'
- Polish cleaner discovered to be brilliant concert pianist (I mean, fancy his day job not being the be all and end all of his life!)
- Polish street signs are a waste of funds says Ruth Kelly
- Lonely death of an 18-year-old rape victim which makes sure to claim that her boyfriend was of Polish descent and "violent", even though there doesn't appear to be anything to link him to the crime that allegedly led to her suicide.
- Welsh TV programme to carry first Polish subtitles
Then there is the story "One in ten people in the UK now foreign born" which makes it clear that for the Daily Mail it is a case of once a Pole, always a Pole.
According to today's report, there were just 24,000 Polish nationals in the UK in 2002, rising to 48,000 in 2004 and 110,000 in 2005.
By 2006, the total number of Polish-born people living in the UK - including those who have taken on British nationality - stood at 229,000.
And then there are times when the Daily Mail can't get their maths right, but is pretty sure that these Eastern Europeans are a damned bad thing for the country, whatever the numbers.
Well unless they are doing Sarah Sand's plumbing on the cheap, obviously.
At least the sub-editor on the homepage treated the article with the contempt it deserved when it was first put there.