Racism Van: Go Home!

Opinion | Margaret Childs | September 2013

In late July, the British Home Office launched a controversial pilot scheme to tackle illegal immigration. For one week, six government-sponsored campaign vans circled North London with an uncompromising message: "Illegal in the U.K.? Go home or face arrest", including a text number to report suspicious activities.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) effectively put an end to the controversial campaign – following 60 complaints by immigration activists, who called it offensive and irresponsible – and has launched a investigation into the Home Office’s so-called "racist vans".

Back home in Austria, not even the far-right anti-immigrant FPÖ thought up such unusual campaign tactics, particularly as the Home Office’s approach fuelled racial tensions rather than prevented them. Strache’s party has changed its tone for the upcoming elections: A "Positiv-Wahlkampf" (positive campaign) – no hate messages as in the 2008 "Daham statt Islam" (Home, not Islam). Instead we are enlightened with a wordplay on "love thy neighbour" – choosing only those neighbours they want. Sounds a little like "bearing false witness".

At least, it’s not a violation of advertising standards.

Other articles from this issue: