"What about personal responsibility?" BBC News, the devil's advocate, and a question beyond contempt

Refugees are human beings. Why does BBC News keep forgetting that?

Watch this:

“And what about the issue… and I’ve got to raise it, of personal responsibility here; we’ve got two sixteen-year-olds getting into a boat, one of whom can’t swim — I mean, it underlines obviously how desperate they are — but there has to be an element of personal responsibility, doesn’t there?”

That’s an actual question that actual news anchor Simon McCoy asked Minnie Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants yesterday. The situation he was talking about was that of two sixteen-year-old boys who tried to cross the Channel in a dingy. One of the boys died.

Minnie Rahman’s reply to the callous query was calm and on-point, despite how disgusting McCoy’s line of questioning was:

“I think we have to remember that we are talking about children. Children who very likely don’t have any adults with them and are more than likely trying to reach family and friends in the UK. Just earlier this year, the government closed down a route for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to enter the UK. That means that they are stuck in France with absolutely no way to get to their loved ones and to get to safety. Now you only get into a boat if you are very, very desperate and I think at that point personal responsibility, you know, isn’t relevant anymore. And actually the responsibility is with the British government and the French authorities, who need to ensure that that kind of person can get here safely and get on with their lives, rather than dying in a boat.”

December 2, 1938, and the thirties equivalent of Simon McCoy pops his monocle and leans forward at his desk to interrupt the radio bulletin he is reading and say: “But I have to ask, what about personal responsibility? These Jewish children knew that Hitler and the Nazis hated them for so long. Why wait until now to leave?”


At no point in history has it been acceptable to blame children for their desperation and fear. At no point in history has it been acceptable to blame children for the decisions of the politicians in their countries and outside of them, or for the decisions of their parents and the adults around their parents.

Someone said to me yesterday that I should not blame McCoy as he was “simply playing devil’s advocate.” Well, in this world, the devil needs no advocates. The devil has free rein to appear on television daily, putting forward the most morally empty, cynical and cruel opinions. BBC News does not need to be the devil’s advocate, he already has Nigel Farage.

For more on BBC News’ appalling coverage of refugees, see this previous edition of Conquest of the Useless:

Sink the BBC boat: Breakfast chasing migrants was fascist TV