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'If we make the UK rubbish enough, maybe they won't come?'

The government is staking its reputation on stopping asylum seekers crossing the channel in small boats. The latest government initiative is to provide asylum seekers with more realistic information about life in Britain, in the hope that this will encourage them to look elsewhere. A spokesman said that negative posts about Britain on social media will act as a huge deterrent.

For example, asylum seekers will be told that public housing in Britain is not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, much of it is actually cracked. While the space standards in public housing are great (because only the government follows its own advice on room sizes, etc), much of it is old, damp, mouldy, energy inefficient, full of lino and formica. Or they might be housed in unsafe tower blocks with flammable cladding or a clapped out holiday camp which bears no resemblance to Hi-di-Hi. Asylum seekers will be targeted with social media clips of crappy housing in grim Northern towns, Grenfell tower and vox pops with impoverished leaseholders who are stuck in properties they can’t get out of.

On transport, the government will publicise the big reductions in bus services, rail strikes, cost of fuel, the state of the roads, cycle lanes that are only two metres long, and so on.

Health will be treated in a similar vein (sic). Asylum seekers will be told about the failing NHS, queueing ambulances, 999 call delays, bed blocking, surgical errors, inadequate social care, diminishing numbers of GPs and the various maternity, heart hospital and children’s hospital scandals. There is plenty of material to draw on. At long last the problems in the NHS turn out to have a silver lining.

A government comms expert was ecstatic about the plans. She said that everyone in government communications loved social media campaigns, because they can legitimately fool around on TwitSpace, InstaGuff, TwitTok and FaceBlah all day – and get paid for it, and probably get overtime. She said, off the record, that the budget would be huge and no-one would ever be able to tell what had been achieved. ‘This sort of campaign is gold dust – jobs for life for everyone in comms. We will have to post across dozens of different social media sites, and in dozens of languages. It’s a digital gravy train!’

To ensure that the messages reach their target audience the government is planning to hand out free mobile phones, with all-you-can-eat data plans, to potential asylum seekers in and around Calais, Albania, Afghanistan and other locations still to be finalised.

The government is expecting results quickly and ideally before the next election.

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