On a mission to keep the Gypsy ‘scum’ out

Posted on 19/06/2010


Tabloids routinely portray Travellers and Gypsies in ways that increase the locals’ dislike and hatred towards them and their way of life. The local press, in particular, often cover Traveller-related issues in a way that seems deliberately designed to inflame local tensions and damage relations between the settled and Traveller communities. Local papers also often give the impression of a major ‘gypsy invasion’, even though the Gypsies concerned may already be resident in the area.

Here’s an outrageous example:

KEEP THIS SCUM OUT (And it IS time to hound ‘em, Chief Constable). They call themselves tinkers, itinerants, new age travellers. We call them parasites. The scum of the earth who live off the backs of others. They contribute nothing but trouble… They set up filthy, disease-ridden camps on roadsides and in parks and offend every decent citizen.

Birmingham Evening Mail, front page, 29 January 1993

In October 1997, Roma from the Czech Republic and Slovakia arrived at the port of Dover, Kent, seeking asylum. Here’s how many UK newspapers covered the issue.

Gypsies invade Dover, hoping for a handout.

The Independent, front page headline, 20 October 1997

We were told your country really is the land of milk and honey: the Sun joins spongers on refugee express. Cheeky Bulgar: Immigrant blows £67 dole on lotto.

The Sun, 23 October 1997

I’m not saying that all these gypsies are the same… there may be genuine cases. But it is the ones who are just hoping to get a free ride on the gravy train that we are talking about.

Quote in the Daily Telegraph, 25 October 1997

For more on this issue, see this academic paper by Rachel Morris (pdf).