My interest was sparked this week when I opened a copy of my local free newspaper, the Northants Herald & Post to find an almost full-page article with a headline declaring “Refugees Welcome”, the suggestion being that the current wave of economic migrants invading Europe are welcomed by the majority of the citizens of Northampton.
In fact the story underlying this article is of a married couple, James and Tracy Green, who stated their willingness to accept, not just one, but three Syrian children into their home, all of which sounds very laudable until one looks a little deeper.
The Greens apparently have seven children of their own already and the picture accompanying this article shows Mr Green, who is sixty-two years of age, sitting on his mobility scooter.
Obviously, social services are unlikely to place three orphaned Syrian children in the home of a disabled man who already has seven children of his own to look after and who is possibly living on benefits. That is, if three orphaned Syrian children could be found among the seething throng or migrants entering Europe.
The reality therefore is that however willing they are, Mr and Mrs Green are unlikely to be asked to take in refugees, and so their offer is a meaningless gesture that the newspaper has evidently latched onto in an effort to manufacture pro-immigration propaganda.
Inside the Herald & Post, I then came across the Editor’s Letter, a small editorial piece by the editor Steve Scoles, which is full of emotional nonsense suggesting that the only decent thing would be for us to take in lots of refugees, and which begins with the statement, “It has been nice to see an upsurge in support for the idea of helping refugees”, as if to suggest once again that the majority response from the people of Northamptonshire has been one of welcoming the migrants. Nothing however could be further from the truth.
On page nine of this September 10th issue of the Herald & Post is an article in which a local councillor complains that having declared his sympathy for the plight of the migrants, he was inundated with messages of criticism from his constituents. Councillor Gareth Eales (Labour) complained, “I was quite shocked by the level of vicious and personal hatred that was aimed in my direction, for expressing my humanitarian view”.
The article ends by informing readers that Councillor Eales’ full statement can be read at www.northampton–news-hp.co.uk.
On this Herald and Post website however, the first article I found dealing with this issue was one which tells the story of another Labour Councillor urging that we should take in and provide homes for migrants, and which contains a link to a further article with the headline, “Northampton says ‘No’ to welcoming Syrian refugees into town – results of our yes/no poll”. This subsequent article reveals that in their own survey of their readers views, the Herald & Post found that in response to the question, ‘Should Northampton rehome Syrian refugees?’, 75% voted ‘No’ and only 20% voted ‘Yes’.
Further inside the same issue of the newspaper, on page 12, under the heading ‘Your Voice’, there is an article featuring ex-Labour MP for Northampton-South, Tony Clarke, who is now a spokesperson for the Green Party, calling for the EU to give further aid to the migrants, but under ‘Your Views’ in which three readers’ letters are printed, we find that two out of the three letters are written by people claiming that we should find housing for our own people before we start offering to house migrants. There is only one letter that urges us to give provide housing for the migrants, which is written by someone who withheld their name and address.
The Northants Herald & Post is ultimately owned by Local World Newspapers, a massive company with over one-hundred local newspapers and seventy local newspaper website under ownership. A cursory look at a representative sample of the sister websites does not appear to show a similar tendency to promote the acceptance of migrants in other areas, and so it would appear that the decision to give a distorted view of public opinion in Northamptonshire was possibly made by Steve Scoles, the editor of the Northants Herald & Post. Perhaps Steve will let us know whether the decision was his or whether he was acting on instructions from above, and if the decision was his, perhaps he will explain why he chose to present a distorted view of his readers’ views.
Interestingly, the Chief Executive Officer and controlling owner of Local World is an Ulsterman, David Montgomery, who is married to the Hon. Sophie Montgomery, the daughter of the 3rd Baron Birdwood and step-granddaughter of the late Dowager Lady Jane Birdwood of National Front fame. If there is a corporate policy of promoting the acceptance of migrants, I doubt that the Dowager would have approved.