Nigel Farage’s “fact” on HIV patients were immediately slapped down by Leanne Wood and the fact has been re-defined by his own media rep.
A powerful graphic in response from “Jimbo Loony”. Great satire, if a tad scary.
Less powerful, more ridiculous – a right wing blogger claiming Wales gave us ‘Jihadis and a bloody silly accent’. Also a tad scary, but in a different kind of way.
So what is the truth behind the figure?
– beyond Nigel Farage running this ‘dog whistle’ so that it boosted his own supporters, when UKIP support is falling.
1. Farage got his fact wrong; the number of new HIV diagnoses is 38% (2012), not 70%.
2. It’s not clear from The Guardian analysis, but it does appear that 70% of the (nearly 100,000) total diagnoses are non-British born; his spokesperson had to make the correction on BBC Radio 4 the following morning.
3. A very significant factor is the high rate of infection amongst African immigrants (although the rate of infection of African immigrants is lower than the rate in their home populations, and their level of education attained higher).
4. The reasons people seek are immigration are not HIV related –
– people are being diagnosed some time after their arrival in the UK; (and may even contract it after arrival);
– there was no discernable change in the pattern when free treatment was available in Scotland and Wales, but not in England.
5. It’s not health tourism either, since the 70% relates to those staying in the UK, and diagnosis is not grounds for staying in the UK.
6. The 2012 change to free care for immigrants in England was made for public health reasons; treatment for HIV reduces the ability to pass the infection on; or “standing up for our people”. (There was a fear of a political reaction, but the public health rationale took precedence.)
7. The issue has rarely been raised (perhaps by UKIP last Autumn) so probably explains why party leaders responded with the outrage over smearing immigrants and not seeing sufferers as people in need of care. (Worth noting that one of the 2 UKIP MPs refused to join in.)
The audience didn’t react well to Farage’s remarks, both those watching and those in the studio.
Hence the idea that he was targeting his own political base.
A reputation for honesty is not deserved however when he announces a fact and then gets it wrong.
Maybe a dog whistle doesn’t deserve consideration, but the realisation of the high rates of HIV rates hitting home in the UK makes you realise why overseas aid ain’t just philanthropy.