Back in 2002, I wrote a piece that ended up in my book “A Declaration of Independence”. Somewhere in the depths of this piece, I made a reference to the repatriation of immigrants.
Did I propose compulsory repatriation? No, I did not. Did I advocate voluntary repatriation? No, I did not. So what did I say? I merely expressed my surprise at the strident attacks from some politicians at the time on the very idea of voluntary repatriation, as though this were self-evident wickedness. It seems to me that if an immigrant desires to be repatriated, and we choose to help him, that is an act of kindness and compassion. I don’t advocate it as a policy. But equally, I can’t see why the idea is, in and of itself, wicked.
However the Observer newspaper takes a different view. They have had (I assume) a team of researchers reading everything I have ever written, and looking for lines of attack. Well done them. I hope they learned a few things. But they came up with the repatriation quote, and used it as a basis for a shock-horror story under the title: “Ukip shock over by-election candidate who backed voluntary repatriation”.
Well. There’s a thing. I get the full alarmist treatment merely for questioning why some politicians attack the concept of voluntary repatriation in strident terms. But the EU itself actually has a policy of voluntary repatriation of immigrants. There is a European Return Fund with a budget of €130m/year, designed to pay for voluntary repatriation. The UK signed up to this in 1999 under Blair with the Voluntary Assisted Return & Repatriation Programme, or VARRP, which is administered on behalf of the British government in the UK by the charity Refugee Action. Its role is to pay for the voluntary repatriation of legal migrants.
There’s more. Up until 2010, there was also the AVRIM programme, or Assisted Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants, funded by the Home Office, which dealt with illegal immigrants.
The Observer adds, for good measure, and in a deliberate and malicious attempted smear, that the only party previously to support voluntary repatriation was the BNP. They omit to mention that the Blair government and the European Commission also supported, and funded, voluntary repatriation.
So. The Blair government signed up to a major scheme for voluntary repatriation. The EU funds a voluntary repatriation programme with €130 million a year of our money. The Observer has nothing to say about that. But they maliciously attack a UKIP MEP merely for questioning why some commentators were so critical of such a programme. This is further evidence of the massive and hypocritical propaganda machine deployed by some mainstream media outlets, and of course by the legacy parties, as they panic in the face of UKIP’s poll ratings. It also helps to explain why voters on the streets of Newark today were telling me that they understand the media attacks on UKIP. They know why it’s happening. They see through it. And they don’t believe a word of it.