Thursday, 31 July 2008

Tough Liam Byrne

Liam Byrne has not issued a press release without using the word 'Tough' since april.

The Register has just posted a nice little bit of discourse analysis-lite (well, it's content analysis really) which just amounts to pointing out that he seems to use the word quite a lot.

It seems that the word is necessary in relation to immigration policy of any sort. The interesting point, which the article doesn't make, is that there a plenty of other frames we could use to look at the issue of immigration. We could look at it through a globalisation frame and see that here are people from the interconnected, interdependent world, trying to make the best for themselves here. Or here are some of the world's most vulnerable people, who are driven to the significant action of having to leave their homes. That might prompt compassion, or optimism.

Nope. Let's be tough instead.

The Identity Card argument from the government (when it holds still) seems strongly attached to the issue of immigration. No if this is evidence of the government thinking there is a real problem with immigration, or if it is just pandering to the tabloids, I can't say. What I can say is that the government's discourse around the issue is stacked full of immigration and asylum seekers.

The nasty bit is the way that they're used in the same sentence as child abusers, fraudsters and terrorists. This serves the linguistic function of casting these people in the same light, making them symbolically equivalent.

edit - with a tiny bit from the book...

If the introduction of ID cards appears to be a way for governments to ‘get tough’
on crime and terrorism, this may make it harder to move away from such a policy
even if presented with good evidence to suggest that it is ineffective. In an attempt
to preserve face, and not be seen to back down ‘in the face of terrorists’ politicians
must persevere with a programme and find ways to justify it. Harnessing a project
to a rhetorically powerful issue (in the current climate) can therefore backfire. (Wills, 2008, p.175)

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