At any moment in The Simpsons, Homer will be distracted by a doughnut.
Homer was ahead of his time in foreshadowing how easily turned we are from what we are supposed to focus on to something ephemeral and ultimately unrewarding. And while we can salute the makers of The Simpsons for the ever-evolving foresight, one thing they can’t have seen is that this form of misdirection is would become a key function of our government.
Over the past week a whole host of crackdowns were unveiled by Number 10. A crackdown on small boat crossings; a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, that will involve criminalising further the most marginalised, such as rough sleepers; a crackdown on noisy Airbnbs; a crackdown on men in their 20s with bad moustaches. Incredibly, only one of these is not true.
Rather than coming up with clear and decisive plans for the betterment of all, there is a push to othering rather than governing. As soon as the government are found to be responsible for something, they revert to pointing the finger at outsiders, whether the poorest in Britain, or those who land here due to terrible situations where they have lived. Worried about the cost of living? Well, hotels to house asylum seekers cost over £6 million a day. Imagine if that money could be used elsewhere. Think of that! How about that on the side of a bus!!
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Recently in The Big Issue Ian Dunt laid out clearly and precisely how this was its own kind of misdirection. The problem was one of process failure, not refugee numbers. Of the 40,000 people who arrived on small boats last year and claimed asylum only 340 had their claim processed by the end of 2022. The rest were bunked into hotels. And so it becomes easy to point the finger at the foreign bogeyman sucking up the resources hard-working British people should have access to.