Archive | May 2014

UKIP cite Europol statement about Romanian gangs as evidence of Romanian criminality. The irony.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage arguesh that people have a right to be concerned if a group of Romanians move in next door. His reason for this is that “Police figures are quite clear that there is a high level of criminality within the Romanian community in Britain.” UKIP cites four tabloid articles (and no other sources) to back up this claim. I’ll take a look at one of them: a Standard article on gangs.

The article is reporting Europol worries about Romanian gangs. Clearly, this does not in itself make it reasonable to be ‘concerned’ about Romanians moving into one’s neighbourhood – even assuming Europol’s worries are well-founded, the great majority of Romanians are not in gangs. It is touching, though, that UKIP now have such faith in a European Union agency like Europol – I’d argue that it’s important to critically assess the arguments made by EU agencies, but maybe UKIP are more in favour of blind trust?

More interesting, though, is that in the same article Europol state their belief that “the threat from Romanian gangs will not rise significantly when restrictions on the type of work Romanians and Bulgarians can do in the UK are lifted in January” 2014. I wonder if UKIP also find Europol convincing on this point?

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UKIP have an exclusionary and reactionary idea of the local

I’ve lived in Dundee for just under five years. I work in the city, really like it here, and see myself staying here for many years. I was therefore surprised that, according to UKIP councillor Suzanne Evans, I wouldn’t count as ‘local’. In last week’s Westminster Hour*, Evans argues for prioritising services for “local people”. Evans doesn’t seem to view just living and working in an area (even for several years) as enough to be ‘local’; instead, she states that UKIP’s idea of ‘local’ would require “specific roots to an area…having been born in an area, having parents or grandparents there…we think that’s only fair.”

According to this logic, I could never be a local in Scotland. First generation immigrants to the UK – even people who have been here longer than I’ve been alive – could never be a local anywhere in this country.** UKIP have an incredibly – and worryingly – exclusionary idea of what it means to be local.

UKIP have recently been complaining about being called fascist. I don’t believe that they are fascist – the term implies rather more organisation and centralisation than UKIP have been able to achieve. However, this reactionary and exclusionary idea of what it means to be local puts them in an unfortunate political position – their position on this is actually more regressive than some far-right parties which prioritise the nation over the local (and are therefore much more positive about movement within the nation).

What’s interesting here is that UKIP seem to be constructing a place-based, very exclusionary type of politics which is in some ways making them less nationalist – emphasising the local over the national. Definitely not fascist, though, so that’s a relief!

* listen from about 25mins in. I had to listen several times to convince myself that Evans was really making this argument.
** Unless, perhaps, they brought parents/grandparents to the UK with them. However, I am not sure that this is a goal of UKIP policy.

Science Translational Medicine and a non-correction correction

In response to the concerns I raised, Science Translational Medicine have added a competing interests declaration to Ma et al.’s article on Vitamin C and cancer. This article now states that

JD holds an unpaid advisory board position for a grassroots advocacy group, the Alliance for Natural Health-USA. She had previously served as a board member for the American College for Advancement in Medicine. QC holds an unpaid position on an advisory board for the International Society of Integrative Medicine. None of these organizations are connected to the supplement industry

This correction is, however, not flagged as a correction at all. It’s also only visible once you have got through the journal’s paywall. Given the huge publicity that this research got while it was missing this declaration, this is strikingly inadequate.

I will be contacting Science Translational Medicine to ask what’s going on with this, and also query some other aspects of this declaration. However, I wanted to put this up so this statement of competing interests can be accessed outside of the journal’s paywall and so there’s a public note of this correction – both things that, as far as I can tell, Science Translational Medicine have failed to achieve.