Lily Allen has hit out at the tabloid press for their treatment of herself and Gary Lineker following their defence of Calais refugees.
Last week, the pop singer made headlines after appearing on the BBC for Victoria Derbyshire’s show where she met children staying at the migrant ‘jungle’. Allen later defended herself against critics and online abuse.
Former footballer and current BBC presenter Gary Lineker was also criticised by the press after tweeting that “the treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless.” The Sun called on the BBC to sack Lineker from his Match Of The Day role.
In an article penned for Vice, Allen explains her initial intentions behind going to Calais. “I went to Calais because I wanted to do what I can to help,” she writes. “I wanted to try to remind people of the humanity at the heart of the crisis, at a time when refugees were being demonised in the press.”
“But after the film of my trip aired I found myself caught in a familiar constellation of tabloid and social media aggressors. It began on Twitter, with near-universal negative comments… There was a real hate in the things people wrote, as if me going to Calais was a vindictive attack on our country.”
“I didn’t think going to Calais was particularly controversial, but it turns out that saying we need to help vulnerable children is now dodgy territory… Some of the anger felt familiar. People thought it was wrong for someone who has money to moralise on behalf of everyone else.”
Allen goes on to argue that the press had ulterior motives behind their vilification. She writes: “The furore about whether or not some refugees may have lied about their ages is not really about whether these refugees can enter the country; it’s about creating the narrative that people trying to come here aren’t asking for our help, but trying to dupe us, take advantage of the system. The hope is that this will make us less trusting of them next time round.”
“The press are willing to slur the reputation of refugees, to ‘monster’ celebrities who disagree with them by bringing up negative stories from their past until they back down… Some people will say, ‘You’re just a pop star – you should just make music.’ But 40 years ago, even 25 years ago, you couldn’t really be taken seriously as a musician unless you had a political stance. The mainstream media saw that threat coming – that stars could wield a lot of power – so they monster people like me to put them off getting involved.”
Allen’s trip to the Calais refugee camp was organised by Help Refugees UK. You can donate to the cause here.