Friday, 16 June 2000

Entry #61

Listening to:
Martinu, Cello Sonata #2, H340. This is angular, modern music, written in New York in 1941. It takes a little bit of getting used to. With the help of the BBC music magazine, I am accumulating a list of positive reviews of cheap Naxos recordings of things I haven't heard before. This way I get to broaden my horizons but do it pretty cheaply.
The BBC has been annoying me a bit of late. In Britain, there has been a bit of a brou-haha of late about asylum seekers. The government now seems to feel that it can't be seen to be "soft" on the issue, the Conservative opposition party having made popularity gains by casting itself as the hard-line option.

So, not so long ago, there was a story about a plan the government had to increase the numbers of rejected asylum seekers who were deported. Apparently, many who fail to gain asylum still manage to stay in the country anyway. So, the impact of the policy was described solely in terms of absolute numbers of people who would be housed in camps and then deported. Year by year, the plan was for this number to increase. What annoyed me was that it was not at all clear what these numbers meant. Was the fact that they were increasing an indication that they were going to be handling a greater proportion of rejections in this way, or was it an indication that the number of rejections was going to go up as a proportion of the number of asylum seekers, or was it an indication that the number of asylum seekers was going to be increasing?

The whole story made me quite irritated. Talk about a classic case of innumeracy in public discourse. The Refugee Council didn't tell me enough to be able to figure it out either.