Something really strange started to happen to the British Conservatives since they came to power. A significant part of them feels so frustrated with the European Union they are eager to take every opportunity to disrupt the ties Britain has with it, regardless of whether it makes sense. Their latest panic attack? The tsunami of potential immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania after the lifting of the work restrictions at the end of this year. Some conservatives seem so eager to play the scare card and collect any momentary dividends that they literary came up with something brilliantly retarded. You think the word is too strong? Well judge for yourself from this report in the Guardian:
Please don’t come to Britain – it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. Ministers are considering launching a negative advertising campaign in Bulgaria and Romania to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from the UK…
The idea, however tentative, appears to clash with the billions of pounds Britain spent on the Olympics, partly to drive up the country’s reputation. It also emerged as the Home Office launched a guide to Britishness for foreigners who would be citizens which opens with the words: “Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society”.
It really takes a lot of panic (or cynical opportunism) to assume that you need to trash your own country’s reputation to avoid immigration. The only meaningful explanation is that those who mastered the plan think such trashing will have a precise surgical effect, as if they are aware of a special communication channel which will restrict the message only to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and also impede them from sharing it with anyone abroad.
I am happy to report that the plan backfired even before its implementation. Apart from the usual Twitter backlash, a Romanian advertising company took advantage of the stupid situation and created its own campaign, inviting Britons tired from the rain to come over and enjoy a better weather. One of the leading Bulgarian bloggers, Boyan Yurukov, took things even further and started an initiative urging anybody from the island to move permanently to Bulgaria.
Somewhere in the middle of this storm I’m throwing my own two cents, the map of Europe according to the Tories you see above, now officially part of my Mapping stereotypes project. Cheers and remember that the German edition of my Atlas of Prejudice book comes out this month. Unfortunately it’s too late to include the current map in it but maybe there will be enough pages in the coming English edition.