Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Brexit: and immigration

A year ago there were already problems recruiting nurses, as reported in the Telegraph:
Number of EU nurses coming to UK falls 90 per cent since Brexit vote - Telegraph

And as reported on this blog:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and the NHS in Devon
Brexit adding to NHS cash and staff shortages, says Devon consultant | Plymouth Herald

Six months ago, this was further confirmed:

Brexit blamed as nursing numbers fall for first time in years - iNews
NHS faces worst ever nursing workforce crisis as Brexit blamed for 96% drop in EU nurses - Mirror Online

And over the past weeks, there have been reports from the front line about how this is effecting services:

Brexit has led to major problem in number of nurses at Hull hospitals, NHS Trust warns - Hull Daily Mail
Brexit: London's social care services to 'plunge into crisis' amid threat to EU workers in capital, Sadiq Khan warns | The Independent

Of course, many nurses are not only from the EU - but also from the former colonies, as the furore over the Windrush generation has shown: 

It is as outrageous to threaten with deportation the 70-year-old woman who was born in Jamaica but who has worked as a nurse and a mum in Britain for decades as it would be to throw May out of the country. We now know how blind bureaucracy can be to common sense and basic decency. Did no one at the Home Office stop to think of the impact the new rules would have on these older migrants? Did no one in the detention system wonder why elderly, respectable Caribbean women were suddenly being shoved into cells?

Why Theresa May is to blame for the Windrush scandal | Coffee House
Windrush generation: Postwar Britain welcomed these workers. Brexit Britain wants proof they belong. - The Washington Post

It is clear that much of the Brexit campaign was fought on two main issues - which are now very much coming together:

> the NHS, as the highly effective advertisment proved: 


Vote Leave Campaign Advert - Which NHS Would You Choose? - YouTube

> and immigration, as reported in this blog:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and our dependence on foreign goods and labour
Futures Forum: Brexit: and East Europeans in the West Country
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the day the immigrants left

And as the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is discovering and as reported by the Mail: 

Leave campaign `deliberately stoked outrage´ in Brexit campaign

A key figure in the campaign to take Britain out of the EU has privately acknowledged that they deliberately used “outrageous” and “provocative” tactics to keep immigration at the top of the referendum debate. Speaking to an academic researcher, Andy Wigmore appeared to compare the process to the “very clever” propaganda techniques of the Nazis. Mr Wigmore was communications director for the Leave.EU campaign fronted by then Ukip leader Nigel Farage and funded by millionaire Arron Banks.
His comments were described as “particularly concerning” by Damian Collins, the chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the phenomenon of “fake news”. But Mr Wigmore retorted that the committee itself was “complicit in creating a fake news agenda designed to bring down Brexit”.
In interview recordings released by the committee, Mr Wigmore can be heard discussing Leave.EU’s contacts with the controversial company Cambridge Analytica, which has come under fire over the use of Facebook users’ personal data in Donald Trump’s race for the US presidency.
Mr Wigmore states that CA did no work for Leave.EU after it failed in its bid to be named lead Brexit campaigner. But he said that Leave.EU “copied” CA’s methods for pinpointing groups believed to be susceptible to specific messages. And he suggested that actuaries from Mr Banks’s Eldon Insurance used probability calculations to identify areas where Mr Farage should campaign.
Mr Wigmore was among a number of figures from the Leave campaign and companies linked to Cambridge Analytica who spoke to Essex University researcher Emma Briant for an upcoming book on the Trump campaign. He told Dr Briant that Leave.EU “completely, completely, completely” copied Trump’s campaign technique of making attention-grabbing and controversial comments.
“The only way we were going to make a noise was to follow the Trump doctrine, which was: the more outrageous we are, the more attention we’ll get, and the more attention we get, the more outrageous we’ll be,” said Mr Wigmore. “And that’s exactly what we did.” He admitted that the campaigners were “unsure constantly if we were doing the right thing” and were concerned they would be blamed for creating “a wave of hatred and racism”.
After the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, he said the campaign thought that “maybe we have gone too far”, with Mr Farage fearing Leave would lose the referendum vote a few days later. But he said that in the event there was “no shift in the dial” from voters outside London who “understood” the message behind Ukip’s controversial Breaking Point poster.
Nigel Farage launches the controversial Breaking Point poster during the referendum campaign (Philip Toscano/PA)

Nigel Farage launches the controversial Breaking Point poster during the referendum campaign (Philip Toscano/PA)
Mr Wigmore told Dr Briant: “The propaganda machine of the Nazis, for instance – you take away all the hideous horror and that kind of stuff, it was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did. In its pure marketing sense, you can see the logic of what they were saying, why they were saying it, and how they presented things, and the imagery. And looking at that now, in hindsight, having been on the sharp end of this campaign, you think: crikey, this is not new, and it’s just … using the tools that you have at the time.”
His comment was echoed by the chief executive of CA’s parent company SCL Group, Nigel Oakes, who told Dr Briant that Mr Trump “leveraged an artificial enemy” in the shape of the Muslims in the same way that Adolf Hitler played on pre-war German hatred for Jews.
Mr Oakes insisted that CA did not work for the Leave.EU campaign, but had made presentations as part of a bid for a contract had the group been designated lead campaigners. He also told Dr Briant that CA’s suspended CEO Alexander Nix had approached Julian Assange to offer to help him to release leaked emails from Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, but was turned down by the Wikileaks founder.
Mr Collins said that the recordings gave a “unique insight” into the thinking of those at the top of the Leave.EU campaign, and said references to the Nazis were “particularly concerning”.
“Andy Wigmore states that he believes that the propaganda techniques of the Nazi’s were ‘very clever’,” said Mr Collins. “He also confirms that exploiting voters’ concerns about immigration was central to their campaign during the Brexit referendum. Given the extreme messaging around immigration that was used during the referendum campaign, these statements will raise concerns that data analytics was used to target voters who were concerned about this issue, and to frighten them with messaging designed to create ‘an artificial enemy’ for them to act against.”
Mr Collins said Dr Briant’s research made clear that Leave.EU benefited from their work with CA, and said the campaign had questions to answer about how it developed its database.
But Mr Wigmore said that the release “sounds like another attempt to try and justify a committee that is desperate to try and find any excuse to undermine the referendum”. He said his conversations with Dr Briant were not for publication and described their release as “wilful deception and trickery”.
Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks accused the committee of creating fake news (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks accused the committee of creating fake news (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Nazis came up for discussion “in a historical context” in reference to the scare tactics being used by the Remain campaign, said Mr Wigmore. He repeated Leave.EU’s denial that it used CA, and added that “no actuaries were employed on our campaign”.
“Immigration was the key issue in pretty much all polling,” said Mr Wigmore. “Facts are not scare tactics, if that’s what people feel is their concerns, and it was our opinion that we had to keep that top of the agenda in line with our polling and the strategy of Nigel Farage.”
Mr Banks said that the committee was “too scared to call me to give evidence”. And he added: “Monty Python couldn’t make this up: a Parliament Committee inquiry into fake news creating fake news to then investigate fake news.”
CA said Mr Oakes had never worked for the company and “did not work on the Trump campaign in any way whatsoever”.
A spokesman said: “Mr Oakes was speaking in a personal capacity about the historical use of propaganda to an academic he knew well from her work in the defence sphere. These are comments that have already been reported on in the media in the past few years. Like much of the reporting surrounding our company, Dr Briant’s ‘explanatory essays’ contain uncontextualized comments, unsubstantiated assertions and the joining together of dots to establish a picture that suits the authors.”

Leave campaign `deliberately stoked outrage´ in Brexit campaign | Daily Mail Online

It's been quite a story:
Fake news inquiry raises concerns over targeting of voters in Brexit referendum | Politics | The Guardian

And it carries a lot of further baggage:
Leave.EU, Arron Banks and new questions about referendum funding | Politics | The Guardian
Vote Leave broke spending limits on industrial scale, says former staffer | Politics | The Guardian
We need to talk about Arron | openDemocracy

Which is of interest to the MP for Exeter:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP raising questions
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP once 'regarded as a crank' >>> but now questions are multiplying over the roles of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP's demanding that the government 'comes clean'

Here's the opening and close of a very interesting piece:

Brexit and bias? The framing of immigrants in the media

From the ‘I am an immigrant’ poster campaign, a Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Movement Against Xenophobia effort to “challenge the negative rhetoric against immigrants, celebrate them and provide their story.”

Recently, Facebook's confirmed sharing of 50 million profiles with Cambridge Analytica has made big headlines, especially in connection to the US. But reports of this collusion have been in the news for some time in the UK, particularly in relation to the 2016 national referendum to leave the European Union otherwise known as “Brexit.” In journalist Carole Cadwalladr's words last year, democracy itself was “hijacked” through Cambridge Analytica operations; her report called it the “Great British Brexit Robbery” (a report that is still the subject of legal complaints).
To what extent technological platforms have been used to shape public response is a matter of strong concern, as with the case of Brexit. Anyone who has been paying attention to Britain's departure from the European Union next year knows that it is a topic that provokes intense emotion. So, is there something in the topic of Brexit that disinformation efforts can take advantage of? What perspectives might a high-level, data-driven analysis of Brexit news provide?
According to a Media Cloud collection of US and UK media mainstream sources, and a web crawl of outlets connected to them, the topic of Brexit has appeared in approximately 70,000 stories between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018.
What is Media Cloud?
Media Cloud is an open source platform developed by the MIT Center for Civic Media and the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Media Cloud is designed to aggregate, analyze, deliver and visualize information while answering complex quantitative and qualitative questions about the content of online media.
Major themes that emerged in Media Cloud included a number of expected key terms such as references to the US election and the UK referendum and prominent politicians such as Teresa May or Boris Johnson.
However, when focusing on topics related to potential motivations behind Brexit among the terms, the issue of the economy appears to be more frequent. In addition, a prominent topic of discussion in the media was immigration.

This is an ordered word cloud of a sample of stories that contained “Brexit” in Media Cloud. The words that show up more often appear bigger and show up first in the list. (View larger image)
Exactly how were these topics discussed in US and UK media in relationship to Brexit?

The Negative Tenor of Immigration

To get a sense of the tenor of the conversation around immigration, our Bias Prismtool processed key terms related to the discussions around immigration. Bias Prism is a Natural Language Processing tool that analyzes language for expressions of personal perspective and potential bias.
What is Bias Prism?
Bias Prism is an experimental feature being developed by the Georgia Tech's Behavioral Modeling and Computational Social Systems Group in partnership with NewsFrames. Results from Natural Language Processing algorithms signal a number of possible ways that texts may be using perspectival or biased language. Learn More >>
The Bias Prism tool aims to offer more precise ways of thinking about the presence of perspective or bias in statements. Rather than producing a “biased/not biased” result, researchers are able to analyze texts through a number of considerations such as sentiment or expressions of doubt.
Comparing the samples of key terms flagged for further inspection, stories talking about immigration used more terms — like “damaging,” “anxieties,” “crisis” — that signaled perspectives and emotions than were used when discussing the economy, even though there were many more sentences about the economy.
Exploring the stories in context further, the key terms of immigrant or immigrantsalso came to the fore. They followed the same pattern, with Bias Prism results around immigrant appearing slightly still more perspectival or biased than those around immigration.
Framing can be a natural human response to interpreting complex situations. The struggle for understanding around the issue of immigration is partly the result of the struggle for large scale integration, which includes major shifts in population around the world as a whole and particularly in the UK. In the UK, if the number of immigrants has doubled in the past 25 years, then increased encounters with new citizens and new ideas naturally generate conversations about what makes up British culture.
And it's also worth remembering that UK citizens migrate themselves and are part of integration conversations elsewhere. In fact, the United Kingdom numbered among the top 10 countries in 2015 that provide migrants to the rest of the world.
The question here is about the larger frame, in this case, the overall tenor around immigrants in the media, which appears rather negative. Frames are necessary but also tricky things. Even if it is accurate in relaying the fears of others, the weight of the media's overall framing on stories related to immigration may inadvertently be amplifying the perspectives they are reporting on.
Fears of manipulation generated by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal do remind us that it is not just false information but human interpretations around facts or political beliefs that disinformation campaigns can be built upon.
What can trustworthy media outlets do to foster healthy discussions about the values around immigration, and share more facts about immigrants and their values? Perhaps answering this question, and thinking about the frame, can go towards building the sort of place we all want to live in.

Brexit and bias? The framing of immigrants in the media · Global Voices

To finish:

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