Trolling Racist Van.

Stewart Lee once said that if ‘political correctness’ had achieved one thing, it had forced the Conservative Party to cloak their inherent racism behind more creative language. This July confirmed that Lee may be onto something. The Tories have evolved from this catchy little 1964 Tory campaign leaflet distributed in Birmingham at the time:


To their new, far more subtle campaign, featuring more creative, yet similarly dirty language and imagery:


The campaign has drawn condemnation from all sections of the political spectrum. From Lib Dem coalition partners like Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called the vans “Stupid and offensive”, to, amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted:

“The danger is that the kind of message that is being sent from these billboards will be taken not just by illegal immigrants but also by many people of settled ethnic minorities as being some sort of sign of open warfare.”

Even leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Keith Prince was unhappy with his horrendous colleagues at the Home Office:

“If we had been consulted, we would have warned strongly that, whatever effect this campaign might be intended to have on people who are in the country unlawfully, that message is far outweighed by the negative message to the great majority of people, from all backgrounds, who live and work together in Redbridge, peacefully, productively and lawfully.”

One cannot help but wonder if Lynton Crosby has recently invested in the van industry.

It was of course, only a matter of time before this wretched little campaign fell victim to both Photoshop, and prank calls. And rightfully so. So here are a few of my favourite racist van trolls:










Racist van 8


As with all failing Tory campaigns, this particular nasty campaign complete with a thinly veiled, menacing threat – naturally used to pass through poorer, multi-ethnic areas of London – is already being touted as a success by the Home Office, without actually producing evidence to confirm. Child-like, EDL-style fear tactics, with NF procured phrases like ‘go home’, designed to spark up community mistrust, suspicion and division, rather than measured and humane approaches, to, well, anything, seems to be the basis by which all Tory policies are formulated.

50 Responses to Trolling Racist Van.

  1. dronolist says:

    I don’t think this is racist. Its just talks about peoples legal standing and doesn’t once target minorities, ethnicity or culture. Not everything is about race.

    Its a terrible attempt to gain support from the people who have strayed over to voting for UKIP, which is why they used such a bullish phrase. If it was conceived as a genuine attempt at tackling illegal immigrants then its obviously impotent and laughable.

  2. Dronolist: are you white? If so, then you need to understand the privilege your ethnicity gives you in this country. Please look into this, it will make you a better and more compassionate person. EVERYTHING can be seen from different perspectives, and it does no good to see yourself on the sidelines. Love x

  3. Duh says:

    The issue is the words “GO HOME” strike a worrying resemblance to the sentiments of UKIP/BNP etc. Another big concern is that it’s more likely to provoke racially aggravated attacks than convince anyone to actually “go home”. It also fails to take into account refugees and false accusations within the neighbourhood. It’s a very poorly executed campaign that’s probably costing us more money than the illegal immigrants.

  4. This is hilarious, and it helps to point out the pure incompetence of the Tories, and their utterly terrible management of this country.

    The real facts are that we need immigration, there is an incredible supply of skilled and talented people from all over the globe who are here on a legitimate basis who are saving people’s lives, and creating a better country for us all to live in. They help to promote a better country, and we can lead the world with a good example set. If all of the legal immigrants went home, we would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle very quickly.

    However, I agree with @dronolist above, in that it is not an issue of racism. It is an issue of xenophobia. *ILLEGAL* immigration DOES have detrimental effects on the country. Before some idiot pulls out the “You are clearly BNP/EDL/UKIP etc” card; I fully support, and love the multi-ethnicity of the UK, and welcome with open arms anyone from any colour/creed/culture that is here legitimately.

    As a white, native English-speaking person, I would fit in quite normally into the culture if I went to say America or Australia. However, if I tried get work there without the proper accreditation I would be deported if found out! The same will apply to any of our Canadian/US/Australian/New Zealand cousins working illegally in the UK etc.

    This campaign is easy to mistake as racism, as many ignorant fools are assuming that the only “illegal immigrants” are the ‘coloured skins from the East somewhere’, or ‘them non-English speakers taking all our jobs’.

    Of course ‘illegal immigration’ is not such a clear cut, ‘black and white’ issue. Bureaucratic red tape will always penalise some of those who really deserve to be here, while allowing some who do not deserve to be here to stay.

    The Tories are doing it badly, but the issue of ‘illegal immigration’ is not one to be ignored and needs to be dealt with somewhere by someone.

  5. Great post. As a Geordie living in Scotland, I spat my coffee out laughing at the text about Scottish independence. Judging by the recent Tory comment that fracking should take place in the “desolate” North East, I’d say it makes a good argument for the North of England to fight for independence too.

  6. ” *ILLEGAL* immigration DOES have detrimental effects on the country.”

    “The Tories are doing it badly, but the issue of ‘illegal immigration’ is not one to be ignored and needs to be dealt with somewhere by someone.”

    I fully agree. This is exactly why immigration should be legalised.

    And this van is racist. It is telling foreigners to “go home”. Ther eis no way this isn’t racist.

  7. Stephen Sadler says:

    Can’t text that number from outside the UK…
    “Hello. Parts of Central London are teeming with foreigners. They even have the effrontery to put their national flags outside their huge residences. Walk down any street in Kensington and you’ll see what I mean. Send ’em back!”

  8. Nimrod says:

    Why is it racist? If you’re here illegally then you shouldn’t be here! Simple as that. If it had “are you black, fuck off home” THEN I would agree it was racist. Sorry but you’re wrong on this one.

  9. Nimrod says:

    James Batholomew. What does being white have to do with this? Where does it mention colour? It could easily be white American illegal immigrants it’s aiming at. Why do you bring colour into it? The fact is, immigration is fine, IF you go through the legal channels. A country cannot sustain an influx of illegal patrons without other areas being effected. I personally think you’re racist, seeing as you were having a go at the firs poster for possibly being white and him therefore not understanding what is going on. For shame.

  10. If you believe racism is limited to being blatant, choosing to ignore the subtle connotations, and the history of certain phrases (“Go home!”) and the animosity that playing on those connotations causes and perpetuates, and the prejudices it appeals to, then I doubt you’ll ever quite understand.

  11. Most people hate trolls, but sometimes trolling is a legitimate answer. it’s best reserved for people who don’t deserve a serious answer, and it adds some levity to a sad situation. I heartily approve of this form of trolling!

  12. TANK says:

    James Bartholomew: Let’s say dronolist is white, and does understand the “privilege” being white gives him in his own country. Does that change the fact that there are people from ethnic minorities that these ads might NOT aimed at. For example, the many people who choose to immigrate legally? Or the fact that many of those that the advert IS aimed at are also white, albeit from european countries outside the EU, for example. Or does that not matter, because being white automatically makes them “privileged”? You need to understand that prejudice boils down to more than race. Please look into this, it will make you understand a lot more about the issues facing communities in this country than just the colour of people’s skin.

    Are these adverts inappropriate? Yes. Are they tasteless? Yes. Were they thought up people who hold racially prejudiced views? Most probably. But the adverts themselves, they aren’t racist.

  13. Timothy says:

    There is nothing remotely racist about this proposed van campaign. It targets illegal immigrants. I have met several illegal immigrants, and the majority have been white. They have been from a range of cultures and nations. No one creed, colour, or nationality is targeted here – merely those who have broken the law. The Government should be tackling law breakers.

  14. JayCartay says:

    Nothing racist about it. If people are here illegally then it’s not home is it? So telling them to then go home cannot possibly be racist, can it?

    Illegal immigrants have no right to be here. Legal immigrants do, and there is absolutely no problem with those people. Want to live here? Come here legally and contribute, otherwise GO HOME! This country does not need the burden.

  15. Adam says:

    “amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted” Why is it racist to want some form of immigration control? Mass immigration is a capitalist idea as it drives wages down. THerefore immigration control must be socialist.

  16. Wage labour, is a capitalist concept, whereby the owners of capital rent the labour of the worker, but pocket surplus value, thus, to socialists, alienating the labourer. So no, immigration control isn’t socialist.

  17. Thomas says:

    Let me preface with the fact that I’m a legal migrant to the UK who is from outside Europe and also white. I’m a native English speaker, too, but I don’t sound like I’m from this country. At all. I have never been stopped to have my documents checked ever. This campaign is obviously targeting boroughs with larger populations of PoCs, and their work on the street is largely aimed at those who aren’t white. This completely flies in the face of the fact that the largest number of illegal migrants to the UK are from Australia.

    The number of times I’ve been in the pub and heard something along the lines of “dirty immigrants need to go home” and, upon confronting the speaker with my own immigration status been told “oh, not you, you’re different” is shocking, and by far the greater attitude at work here. It’s not the fact that they’re here illegally; it’s the fact that they had the ‘audacity’ to come to this country as anything other than white.

  18. I don’t understand why people call the Tories racist, as if they don’t also treat white people awfully? Do white people not suffer for all their NHS, public service and welfare cuts? The Tories want immigrants. They would just rather have third world immigrants with no working rights, as people in the EU have. They want to treat immigrants as badly as they want to treat British workers.

  19. Ted says:

    To undersrand why these vans are racist people have to have a knowledge of history. Just as someone with an empty mind may view a swastiker just as a pretty logo without the knowledge of all the horrors that are linked to it, it is the same with the ‘go home’ slogan.
    I have become very tired trying to educate people about this, racism in the 70s, and the national front.
    I find these vans very offensive and upsetting. The cheek of this ignorant/racist govenment wasting our taxes on this stunt.

  20. Lizzie says:

    fake ad ae fake, please, get your facts right… all the ads are heaviy shopped

  21. paul8ar says:

    Reblogged this on paul8ar.

  22. dronolist says:

    Everyone here knows that we are rubbish at tackling immigration, which is why we have a 40 years back log on of immigration applicants. This really is just an attempt to tackle the negative press that will push people towards voting UKIP during the next election. So that’s why its here, because whilst the Tories are trying to retain some of their key constituencies.

    I live in London from Jewish heritage and know from grandparents how terrible the not-so-distant past was when dealing with minorities and immigrants. So I am white and often get stupid comments but even my grandparents can see through this.

    I don’t know why Bartholomew wants to make this about skin colour, please don’t highjack the discussion to provoke PC reactions. It doesn’t make me ‘uneducated’ or ignorant if I look at what is written without inferring morality. – Its another misinformed, half-baked government idea that has a political stand point which is so badly executed it becomes totally removed from ‘real people’ and thoroughly offensive.

    Its the emotive use of Go Home which is pathetic. It encourages the xenophobic to start thinking they are being invaded and brings back the ‘rivers of blood’ days. I understand all its connotations and history, I just think a multicultural community which realises that its responsible for its own harmony, circa 2013, could overlook this in a mature manner which out banging any drums. Even my grandparents don’t blink at this because they actually know when a government is racist because they had to endure a lot more than just posters and signs.

  23. Mara says:

    Reblogged this on A Life Most Ordinary and commented:
    Amusing. I particularly love the texts to the racist van number.

  24. tango says:

    unfortunately as with anything in this country the situation as been left to escalate out of one has got a clue how to deal with immigration,the racist card has been played to many times and alot of people are fed up of hearing it.i personally think that every one who lives in the uk legally should all have the same rights but that also means to live by the same rules aswell.But that just does’nt happen in the uk.We need some common sense back in the uk but also some will never please everyone.

  25. Jarno Laasanen says:

    It seems strongly to me that some people have forgotten that all those pictures are fakes.

    However, I agree that this kind of journalism is a good way to raise awareness of the topic in hand.

  26. Chris says:

    There are only two ways to stop illegal immigration into the UK. Either make the UK such a horrible place to live that nobody wants to live here (this is what the government seems to be trying to do) or repeal the laws criminalising peaceful, hard-working people trying to build better lives for themselves and their families.
    Restrictions on migration were first enforced as a temporary measure during WW1 to hinder German spies – let’s end them before the 100th anniversary!

  27. Stu says:

    The issue seems to be the term ‘go home’, being associated with the usual racist patter. However I’m kinda shocked people have reacted in the way they have. Frankly those who are in the country illegally are…illegal. And they should be given the option to apply for legal occupancy or be removed. The issue is that people are assuming the Govt are being racist. If the vans said go home if you’re not British, that would be racist! I’m all for ethnic diversity, socially, economically and biologically. But the law is the law. Those seeking political asylum and economic migration legitimately are more than welcome here and I will support that option thoroughly.

  28. Tony says:

    Aside from just being overtly racist (which it is, get over it apologists) the ‘Go Home’ threat overlooks the very many illegal immigrants who are here precisely becasue they can’t go ‘home’ and would face far worse than ‘arrest’ if they did. So even if you accept the flimsy pretext that it is aimed at/for immigrants at all, it fails both compassionately and practically.

  29. dronolist says:

    Tony, there’s no justification for immigrants to be here illegally. People seeking asylum get a lot of support from this country and are welcomed, just visit and read what’s available. They can go onto claim citizenship and permanent residency and use UK infrastructure.
    A contingent of illegal migrants are in fact outlaws from other countries, rapists, murders and alleged war criminals who have fled the law in their own country. There is also a massive amount of people who have failed to abide by the conditions of their original visa, students working, people staying beyond their temporary expiration date. It’s all part of procedure, its not a question of compassion… that is just misunderstanding the issue completely by inferring their is a moral issue with our laws. Maybe also look up how Australia, continental Europe and America deal with immigration to see how the UK are the most accommodating in the western world.
    Don’t confuse asylum, which is a genuine attempt to provide others with a safe life, with the criminal status of being in the country unlawfully.
    I understand all connotations and the legacy of ‘Go home’, I just think a multicultural community which realises its responsible for its own harmony, circa 2013, should be able to overlook this as a political stunt to get votes back from UKIP, without out banging any PC drums and exacerbating ‘moral outrage’.

  30. Richard Bridge says:

    Very simple way to tell if it’s racist. Are a higher proportion of illegal immigrants non-white than the host population? If so it is racially discriminatory. Check the law of “indirect discrimination”. It’s a slam dunk.

  31. Jeff says:

    this is targeted to the “go home” crowd, not as we may think, illegal immigrants. Otherwise it would be written in the languages mostly likely associated with illegals. After all, an illegal knowing their English is well on their way to passing the citizenship test to become a legal migrant, so the ones it is supposedly aimed at can’t even read the sign.

  32. rankersbo says:

    Valid point Richard. However I think it’s perfectly legitimate to use the term “racism” to cover most forms of xenophobia. Claiming something isn’t racist because it’s technically “just” xenophobic is splitting hairs, and racism isn’t objectively worse than judgement based on language, religion, nationality, or otherwise based on point of origin.

    It is true that it is possible to have objective, non-racist/xenophobic concerns about immigration, but that does not legitimize fears or gut feelings that there’s a problem.

  33. Stu says:

    Richard, there is little to no logic to your argument. Illegal immigrants more than likely hail from many different cultures and ethnic groups. And you are assuming most of those illegal immigrants are non-white (prejudice). White European immigrants still suffer racism, as do Roma and Irish Travellers.
    You’re argument is simplistic and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The simplest answer is that the campaign is targeting all illegal immigrants. Anything else is speculation and assumption.

    And Jeff, to suggest because it is written in English makes it racist is clearly grasping at straws. If the Govt had spent the money to put this communication in the dozens of languages needed to address all illegal immigrants, it would cost a fortune. Especially considering each language would require a van of it’s own and this would need to be repeated all over the country!

    Think people, THINK!

  34. Charles says:

    Countries of largest number of illegal immigrants to the UK – 1. USA, 2. Australia, 3. New Zealand. Mostly overstayers, but illegal nonetheless. You can bet your house on the fact that they’re not the ones getting the early morning knocks on doors. They’re ‘of us’ rather than the people those we colonised and subjugated.

  35. frankdmx says:

    Reblogged this on ITFRESH.

  36. dronolist says:

    Charles, we have to deal with the present condition of immigration here. I’d honestly like to start over with our modern day appreciation of a utopian society and change or past but that’s not a viable solution. Nor is it reason to coordinated our future into a perpetual state of reparation towards minorities as a truly multicultural society deals all citizens fairly. There is a legal implication towards being a citizen.
    Australia keep immigrants in detention centres that have attracted constant criticism from human rights campaigners as the standards of living and health are so poor. USA = the incarceration rates and ethnic brake down of inmates demonstrates a huge disparity and racial inequality supported by law. They also may deal with a higher footfall because they are a larger land mass with larger boarders and potential opportunities.
    Guys, this is all getting academic, we are all embarrassed and offended that this even got past someone’s lips around the tory think tank. The racist van seems like more and more of a twisted parody of a Tory’s outdated approach to ‘saving broken Britain’.

  37. Jeff says:

    Stu says:
    August 2, 2013 at 10:48 am .

    And Jeff, to suggest because it is written in English makes it racist is clearly grasping at straws.

    Think people, THINK!

    Where did I say it was racist?

    READ people, READ!!!

  38. Mark says:

    For those who say we need immigration for the economy I suggest you look at the figures. Overall there is such a small difference between financial reward or loss that it can’t be determined. So the next question is whether it benefits the community overall.

  39. Chris says:

    What figures? The figures I’ve seen suggest that open borders would double world GDP[1]. In any case, surely the onus is on xenophobes to justify closed borders by showing that the suffering caused by the supposed negative effects of immigration would outweigh the suffering caused by the enforcement measures (both violent and non- violent) they use in order to prevent it and by the taxation needed to pay for those enforcement measures.

    N.B. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not saying that using violence is always wrong, merely that we should presume it is wrong unless and until it can be shown that the alternative is worse.

    Mark commented: “For those who say we need immigration for the economy I suggest you look at the figures. Overall there is such a small difference between financial reward or loss that it can’t be determined. So the next question is whether it benefits the community overa”

  40. LaLuna says:

    Most illegal immigrants don’t actually have a home to go to.

  41. The Earth truly does not belong to any of us. We are all just visitors here. In truth we humans have done a wonderful job messing this planet up and continue to do so today.

    Once we learn how to respect the earth and all of the spices that live upon it, maybe then we can begin to live in balance.

    Immigration is all about control over your minds, it does not work and never will. I say open every single border on this planet and set ourselves free to be able to go wherever we so choose live.

    With this freedom maybe then we will begin to respect for what does not belong to any of us. It’s time to wake up humans.

    By Robert Berman

  42. Mark says:

    Here’s one source for my point about migration’s negligible economic benefit.

  43. Mark says:

    Another interesting link

    For those of you who think this is one world and we don’t need borders etc… Why don’t you go and live in Alaska, oh you’d prefer somewhere else, well surprise, surprise, loads of other people want to live where you want to live, and somehow only a certain amount of people can live there.

    In the UK there’s a system that decides who gets to live here, if people are here without legal permission then the government (us) have the right to expel them. If being returned to their country puts them at risk then they can apply for asylum.

    I worked with genuine asylum seekers and they have often said to me that they can understand the worries people have because they see so much abuse going on. The fact is that most immigration is economically driven.

    The reason people are getting touchy about The Go Home statement is because the issue of colour and population proportions is coming to a head. Non white people feel under attack but so do whites. Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, and London are perceived by many white people as being predominently non white and most of this growth has happened relatively quicky over the last 60 years.

    The indiginous population has never been given a choice regarding the UK becoming multi cultural so is it any wonder that they too feel under threat?

    I have lived in good multicultural communties which worked for a while until those areas became dominated by a particular group, then it felt like a ghetto and resentments grew.

    This is my point:
    The conservatives have done this campaign to undermine te UKIP vote. Most of the comments here have focused on how “racist” this is or isn’t, but whilst most of you are defending immigration you’re ignoring the strength of feeling in the country about ths issue, brushing it aside as either based on delusion or the thoughts of a minority but I believe the reason this campaign has occurred is because this issue has become central to a very large number of voters.

    Maybe it’s time for society to broach this subject openly without fear because if we don’t the far right may actually get more power than people bargained for.

  44. […] #racistvan touring the road courtesy of The Home Office – much derided as reported by blogger FutileDemocracy – and how the government department uses their twitter […]

  45. Flo says:

    No, you’re right… This is not racism, this is denunciation. You know, this little something that some people did to send their Jewish neighbours to the Nazis’ camps during WWII.

  46. Unoriginal Junglist says:

    “I fully agree. This is exactly why immigration should be legalised”

    Um… This is not a discussion over the whether or not immigration should be made legal, because it is 100% legal and legitimate. The only problem is that you need to fit certain criteria before you are allowed to become a ‘legal’ immigrant.

    e.g. do you have family in this country? Do you have a particular qualification or skill set that the UK is lacking in? Are you a current citizen of one of the EEC states? And so many more…

    If you emigrated from another country, and tried to stay here without the correct documentation, or valid reason to stay, then by virtue of this, you are an ‘illegal immigrant’.

    I said it above, i’ll say it again: This campaign is in bad taste. It is not well done. It is NOT racist – it IS xenophobic.

    Racism – is when you discriminate against a person due to their racial qualities.

    For this campaign to be racist, it would have to discriminate against all immigrants, both legal and illegal, on racial grounds. It does not.

    Does this campaign focus on racial features of those illegal immigrants? i.e. “All you blacks/jews/pakistanis/chinese/indians…Go home!” – It does not.

    What the campaign is saying, is that “To everyone who is, regardless of colour, religion or creed, residing in the United Kingdom without the proper paperwork, or the with the proper authority and permission to stay: Go home”

    If you are still unable to realise the difference, then you cannot be helped.

    There are many problems with this campaign, a lot of which have been spoken about and criticised all over, and I agree with very many of them. That this is a racially discriminative, or ‘Racist’ campaign, I disagree most wholeheartedly.

  47. […] the Tories unleashed the racist van a few months back, social media sprung to life in parodying it, thus rendering the miserable venture an episode in ridicule, taking the sharpness out of its nasty […]

  48. […] Edward Snowden’s worst fear has not been realised – thankfully Futile Democracy – Trolling Racist Van Centre for Story-based Strategy Patrick Reinsborough – Giant Whispers: […]

  49. […] that they now interact with and getting laughs on both sides. I think that in light of the sorts of things that have been happening in Britain lately with ethnic and social tensions, routines like this one are worth their weight in […]

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