Scottish politicians attack ‘going home’ immigration posters as ‘shameful’

A charity has also labelled the Home Office posters displayed in reporting centres ‘racist’

The Home office has been heavily criticised by Scottish politicians and civil society groups for a series of posters placed in immigration reporting centres last month that encourage immigrants to “ask about going home”.

The adverts, which have been on display at reporting centres in Glasgow and Hounslow in West London and offer to book immigrants flights back to their native countries, have been described by MSPs as “shameful”, the Guardian reports.

The Home Office said the posters were designed as part of a campaign to provide those who cannot stay in Britain with “sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home with dignity”.

Positive Action in Housing, a Glasgow-based charity which works with asylum seekers, said the posters were “shameful and deeply offensive”.

Many of those attending the two immigration reporting centres in which the posters are displayed are people applying for asylum and migrant workers with questions about their visas.

Besides traditional posters which display the message “Is life here hard? Going home is simple,” the campaign includes signs on chairs in the waiting area that read, “Ask about going home”.

An aeroplane-shaped poster suspended from the ceiling says, “Let us help you go home.”

Sandra White, the Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow Kelvin and a member of the Scottish parliament's cross-party group on asylum seekers told the newspaper, “Very many asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives, escaping violence and persecution.

“To be greeted with posters urging them to return to the countries they have just fled is totally inappropriate and appalling.

“In my view the campaign borders on the racist. The posters are in an area where most people who go there are African or Asian and to my mind they are there to put fear into people.”

Ms White added that the posters should be removed “as soon as possible”.

Ken MacIntosh, Labour MSP for Eastwood, said, “I think the whole 'go home' campaign has been damaging, and this latest campaign certainly seems to reflect the same sentiment.

”It is a shameful attempt to whip up anti-immigration feeling.“

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing told the BBC, “As we all should know, 'go home' is a well-known racist taunt that has been used for decades in this country by fascists and racists against those of us from immigrant communities.

”That a government agency should decide to take up the same racist and xenophobic refrain while processing would-be refugees to this country, is shameful and deeply offensive.”

An SNP MSP is writing today to Theresa May, the Home Secretary demanding the poster campaign be stopped immediately.

James Dornan, representing Glasgow Cathcart, said, “I am writing to Theresa May to find out if she thinks this type of manipulative messaging to people in very difficult situations is appropriate or not. Did she authorise this campaign? And if not, does she approve of it? And will she commit to ending the use of this inflammatory language immediately?

“There is no room for this type of abhorrent xenophobic campaign which will only serve to make already vulnerable people feel unwelcome and fans the flames of racial bigotry.

”The Home Office has absolutely no idea about how modern Scotland treats vulnerable people - regardless of where they are from. Their campaign [at the UK Border Agency centre in Glasgow] must stop immediately.“

The MSP has also put down a motion in the Scottish parliament calling for an end to the campaign and calling for Scotland to ”have a humane asylum system“.

In a statement to the BBC, the Scottish government said immigration policy was currently reserved to the UK government.

A spokesman added: ”An independent Scotland will also ensure that we uphold our long tradition of providing shelter for those fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries.“

A Home Office spokeswoman told the broadcaster that the posters were part of a pilot campaign running at the UKBA in Brand Street, Glasgow, and Hounslow, west London.

She said it was part of a wider policy aimed at highlighting the range of help and advice available to those not eligible to stay in Britain to return home voluntarily.

The spokeswoman said this was more cost-effective and less traumatic than forced removals.

”Those with no right to remain in the UK should leave voluntarily. These posters are designed to ensure people know that we can provide sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home with dignity.

“We also continue to work closely with community groups who welcome the opportunity for someone who is not here legally to leave the country of their own accord.”

This row follows another Home Office publicity campaign which used vans driven across six London boroughs displaying the slogan, “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.”

Ministers were threatened with legal action from clients of migrant community groups who claimed that the rhetoric on the posters breached the government’s duties under equality legislation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin