Speaking after Home Secretary Theresa May announced the government would be scrapping the use of an advertising campaign condemned as racist and misleading, London's Green MEP Jean Lambert said:
It's to be welcomed that the Government has, eventually, agreed to scrap the much-criticised and xenophobic campaign telling undocumented migrants in London to 'go home or face arrest'.
The call to 'go home' is an ugly reference to a traditional racist taunt, and given that some of London's foreign-born population have fled regimes threatening therm with arrest for their racial, sexual, religious or national identity, deeply offensive.
In July two advertising vans drove around the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Hounslow, some of the most diverse areas of the capital, displaying a picture of handcuffs and the slogan: "In the UK illegally?... GO HOME OR FACE ARREST."
The advert said there had been 106 arrests in the area in the past week and encouraged illegal immigrants to contact immigration officials for information on how they could be helped to leave the country.
The adverts were widely condemned as offensive and racist at the time, and the Advertising Standards Authority, which condemned the ad-vans as 'misleading' earlier this month, received more than 200 complaints about their use.
Jean Lambert, who is the Green Party's spokesperson on immigration, said:
I would argue that it was not the ASA who forced the government to abandon its plans but the huge campaign against it launched on Twitter and then taken up by organisations, campaigns, councils and local activists.I know from discussing the campaign with some of London's migrants and bodies working on their behalf that it has caused real stress to Londoners
I'm only sorry it took criticism from the advertising watchdog finally to persuade the coalition government to scrap the use of the ad-vans, which were deployed across London earlier this year - mainly in areas with a high proportion foreign-born residents.