Britain is Rubbish (UK attitudes towards the EU, Part ∞)

Next year, the temporary ban on the free movement of labor imposed upon the two newest members of the European Union, Romania and Bulgaria, expires. Terrified of an influx of immigrants from these two member states, the British Government is considering running a negative advertising campaign in Romania and Bulgaria to demonstrate just how shit the UK really is. Seriously. There’s too much humor value here to let it slide.

The Guardian has a slide show of 18 proposed posters submitted by their readers here.  I chose the example above as Plymouth is particularly gruesome when it comes to trash bags on the street (the very large seagull population has a strong incentive to hang out here) and random litter. A few months ago, on a ten minute walk home from a park with my daughter, I took over 30 pictures of the litter we encountered just for the hell of it, sort of an attempt to rigorously document my anecdotal impressions of the place having lived here for nine years. It wasn’t an uplifting exercise (but the daughter got a kick out of it).

In addition to the sublime negative marketing campaign, “Other reported options include making it tougher for EU migrants to access public services. Another is to deport those who move to Britain but do not find work within three months.” Unless Romania and Bulgaria have additional limitations imposed upon them as part of their accession to the EU, I doubt either are legal. (UPDATE: according to commenter Lurker, the economically viable unemployed can be deported).  Of course, there’s also the arrogance of it all. Why Britain and not, say, Germany? The Netherlands? France? Or just about anywhere in the EU that’s affordable, with a functioning public transport system, good food, and weather that’s not completely shit?

46 comments on this post.
  1. ajay:

    Of course, there’s also the arrogance of it all. Why Britain and not, say, Germany? The Netherlands? France? Or just about anywhere in the EU that’s affordable, with a functioning public transport system, good food, and weather that’s not completely shit?

    Dunno, ask the Poles… maybe they like the idea of working for a few years in a rich, functioning, English-speaking country?

  2. Data Tutashkhia:

    It’s not exactly English-speaking though, is it; try talking to a Manc…

  3. Warren Terra:

    In the recent series of his monolog show Meet David Sedaris on BBC Radio 4, Sedaris told of moving to a beautiful rural cottage in the idyllic countryside of England – and finding that removing from the roadside all the trash daily thrown from the windows of passing cars was an unending task.

  4. Warren Terra:

    As the CBC’s As It Happens gleefully reported a few years back, a translation service company catering to global business travellers advertised seeking Weegie-to-English translators.

    (Weegie is the name given to the rather impenetrable Glasgow (Glaswegian) accent)

  5. djw:

    Can someone walk me through the naked dudes talking about dead seagulls and David Cameron?

  6. Dave:

    It is odd, isn’t it, how very many people seem to manage to wash through all of Europe as far as southern England, and then just stop. I mean, if it were some compelling physical process, you’d expect a lot of them to end up in northern Scotland eventually, or Iceland.

  7. Uncle Kvetch:

    And here I thought this was a parody.

    trash bags on the street

    That’s kind of an odd thing to criticize. New York does very well in terms of litter, IMHO, but “trash bags on the street” are, y’know, the way the trash gets picked up. Outside of high-rise apartment buildings they’re piled 4-5 feet high the night before pickup. It’s nasty but I don’t know what the alternative would be.

  8. Slocum:

    If there’s anything that terrifies a Romanian who’s been unemployed for 5 years and has to pay bribes to get basic medical care it’s trash bags on the streets.

  9. William Burns:

    Maybe they should hire you to write the ads.

  10. Dave Brockington:

    It might be a perfectly workable method of trash collection in a location without a large population of hungry seagulls.

  11. Data Tutashkhia:

    Make them watch Pane e Cioccolata.

  12. Desargues:

    If you think Plymouth has a problem because of trash on the street and seagulls, come to Boston’s Beacon Hill to watch rats feasting on garbage, on the sidewalks, as soon as dark falls.

  13. Lurker:

    Another is to deport those who move to Britain but do not find work within three months.” Unless Romania and Bulgaria have additional limitations imposed upon them as part of their accession to the EU, I doubt either are legal.

    Actually, it is legal to deport a EU citizen. A European citizen has a right to enter a member country to seek employment without restrictions, but after three months he must seek for residence permit.

    If the EU citizen does not have employment by that time, or he is not “economically inactive” (a pensioner or a playboy), the residence permit will be denied. Thereafter, at least Finland deports the person (or gives a deportation order). And here, the police actually make an effort to find non-registered over-stayers. A registered overstay is bound to get a visit from the police.

  14. Dave Brockington:

    Cheers. I included a parenthetical about this as an update to the post.

  15. blowback:

    I thought they used wheelie bins in Plymouth, they certainly do in Plymstock. The only problem is where the property doesn’t have space or access for a wheelie bin, but then what’s the alternative? Remodel all those properties?

  16. Rarely Posts:

    My favorite line:

    “Britain – we only haven’t left ourselves because the public transport isn’t running.”

  17. ajay:

    It is odd, isn’t it, how very many people seem to manage to wash through all of Europe as far as southern England, and then just stop.

    Yes, it’s always puzzled me that there don’t seem to be any large immigrant-descended populations in more northerly towns like Bradford and Birmingham and Manchester and Glasgow.

    And another thing: why doesn’t Scotland have any mountains?

  18. greylocks:

    When I visit Wales, I frequently find myself asking the locals if they speak Welsh, because I can understand them better.

    Seriously. Not making this up.

  19. greylocks:

    BBC America was advertising its closed captioning for a while over here in USania.

  20. greylocks:

    See also the Celts

  21. Snarki, child of Loki:

    Given the demonstrated super-competence of the current UK government, I look forward to the mixup of tourist posters sent to the USA and Bulgaria.

    Are they going to translate them into the local language, or go for the “my hovercraft is filled with eels!” option?

  22. Leeds man:

    See also the folk who were there long before the Celts.

  23. Bill Murray:

    Fomorians?

  24. Bill Murray:

    Well this does explain Cameron’s and Osborne’s austerity fetish

  25. Jeremy:

    Funny, in Japan it’s crows and monkeys.

  26. TribalistMeathead:

    Because NYC doesn’t have any other animals that enjoy feasting on piles of garbage.

  27. Uncle Kvetch:

    “You have beautiful thighs. Just keep them in Bulgaria.”

  28. Uncle Kvetch:

    Because NYC doesn’t have any other animals that enjoy feasting on piles of garbage.

    Uh, yeah, you beat me to it. Not to mention high temperatures in the 90s F on a regular basis in the summer. It gets…aromatic, to say the least.

  29. ajay:

    “What makes them think anyone would want to live here rather than Bulgaria? We have litter! On the streets! Where the children can see!” #firstworldproblems

  30. GregMc:

    As far as Why Britain? goes, as recently as a couple of years ago the percentage of the population that is foreign born was similar in Germany. If I had to guess why someone might choose the UK over Germany, I’d go with fewer people learn German in school as the main reason, followed by the German insistance on Papers, Please (i.e. rather picky as far as qualifications goes, going all the way down to some rather manual work).

    For what it’s worth.

  31. Xenos:

    Cheddar Man, and the Cheddar People.

  32. Lurker:

    Thanks for noticing the comment. However, the category of persons who can be prohibited from remaining is not “economically viable unemployed” but essentially: “unemployed without money”. The exception to the requirement that a EU citizen has employment when registering for residence permit is simple: if you have pension or otherwise can arrange your living on your own money, you can live wherever you want. This was, when the regulation was enacted in 1990s, dubbed the “playboy directive”.

    Naturally, after getting the residence permit as a EU citizen, you can only be deported for crimes or as a danger for state security. Unemployment will not cause deportation then.

    Of course, with open borders, such regulations are difficult to enforce. In Finland, the enforcement is mainly economic: to get a job, you must be registered (and you are automatically eligible for residence permit). Unless you are registered, your children cannot go to school, you cannot access healthcare, and you get no social services. Thus, you will be in abject poverty, and likely to attract police attention. If you go to the social services people, they will likely inform the police.

    We had our problems with the Rumanian Roma beggars early this decade but due to very strict enforcement, the Roma beggars have almost vanished from the streets of Helsinki.

  33. KadeKo:

    “And tell me what street compares with Mott Street in July…”

    –Lorenz Hart, c 1921

  34. Bitter Scribe:

    I remember, a while ago, reading that the president of Romania was getting so annoyed with EU foot-dragging on removing travel restrictions that he was threatening to lay off all the border guards and just let any Romanian walk over the borders who wanted to.

  35. KWillow:

    Here in the States most apartment or business buildings have a fenced-off area for trash bins or “skips” as the English call ‘em. Trucks come by on a regular basis and remove the full trash bins, replace them with empties.

    When I stayed 3 months in Bath England, I asked the flat manager, “you know, where’s the trash bin?” “Oh, just use the one across the street, which belongs to a their building”. Well, that skip was overflowing with garbage, maybe because there was only one “skip” serving an entire building of restaurants, stores, apartments, etc.

    So I just dumped my garbage in the general area… what else could One do? The situation is disgusting and unhealthy- the sort of situation GOVERNMENTS are supposed to deal with, to ensure the public good.

  36. ajay:

    So the reason the streets in Bath are filthy is that visiting Americans can’t be bothered to use the proper bins. Gotcha.

  37. Njorl:

    “Get real. You ain’t undercutting the Mexicans.”

  38. Trollhattan:

    Are they certain that photo won’t have Bulgarians thinking, “Oooh, free stuff right there on the streets!”?

    /Homer voice

  39. Njorl:

    I’m reminded of the Soviet propaganda movies about the Watts riots. The viewers were impressed by how much clothing the oppressed underclass had hanging out on laundry lines.

  40. Warren Terra:

    I don’t know where in the States you are, but I thought the whole logic behind dumpsters was the trucks that could lift them, dump their contents (sometimes into a compactor), and replace them for further use at the same location. I admit that I’ve never paid a lot of attention to the truck that visits the dumpsters on my street (for example, I’ve never seen how it is that the dumpster in the garage under my building is brought out to the roadside, through manual labor or a tow), but I’d be horrified to learn that a truck is swapping the dumpsters at each one with empties from a depot, in effect requiring one round trip per building. Your theory may be correct where you are, but it sounds dubious.

  41. wengler:

    The Romanians and Bulgarians would much rather go to Italy or Spain. In Italy they are actively discriminated against, in Spain there aren’t really employment options. I do know of some that end up in the UK, but really, that little island with miserable weather isn’t as desirable as it thinks it is.

  42. Julia Grey:

    I thought the point of the post was that there WEREN’T any “proper bins” around for anyone to use, whether one was a visiting American or a native citizen.

    Isn’t there ANY curbside pickup available, you know, like a regular trash day or something? Still, where do you keep the stuff until trash day next week?

    I suppose it’s too expensive to contract for one’s own dumpster and the regular emptying thereof, especially as it seems that everyone in the neighborhood will immediately start using it, out of sheer desperation.

  43. guthrie:

    What, you mean all the Poles in Edinburgh? there was a massive growth in POlish shops about 8 years ago, and I met a few new arrivals working. Even now my Stepmother says they’ve recruited loads of Poles in Edinburgh to be home helps and carers for elderly people.

    Scotland has a long POlish connection; it originated from medieval trade with the Baltic and was cemented in WW2.
    And cemented is no joke:
    http://www.makers.org.uk/place/Maczek

    Although I see Ajay is taking the piss out of Dave.

    Other notable Northern inventions include a certain type of curry being invented in Glasgow 40 or 50 years ago, I forget which.

  44. guthrie:

    Why yes, there is regular pickups. Its just that some of the underfunded (Or badly run) councils have trouble running them.

    The councils I am familiar with manage it well enough. For instance, Edinburgh has weekly pickups of wheely bins, thus mostly preventing the old problem of seagulls and foxes attackign bin bags left on the pavement.

    You can even order a special pickup of large items like sofas or refrigerators.

  45. guthrie:

    Who were likely similar to the people who adopted Celtic languages and fancy stuff in the centuries BC.

  46. jon livesey:

    “Of course, there’s also the arrogance of it all. Why Britain and not, say, Germany? The Netherlands? France? ”

    Well, that’s a daft comment. The UK doesn’t care how many people end up in France or Germany. They care about how many low-skilled people end up in the UK. That is “arrogant” how, exactly?

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