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All the bad news headlines David Cameron might be trying to distract us from with his 'bunch of migrants' comment

Posted by Bethan McKernan in news
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David Cameron sparked outrage on Wednesday after referring to refugees living in desperate conditions in camps around Calais as a "bunch of migrants" during Prime Minister's Questions.

While discussing refugees in callous terms was viewed by some as an own goal on Cameron's part, more cynical commentators have pointed out that disparaging people who want to claim asylum in the UK plays well with a large proportion of the public.

But could there be another reason Cameron used such an inflammatory phrase - especially when he's been called out on similar language before?

As Adam Bienkov explained for Politics.co.uk back in 2013, while quoting an old Boris Johnson column in the Telegraph, this could be part of the so-called "dead cat" strategy.

Johnson writes:

There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted.

That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout 'Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!'

In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.

Well. It's not as though there aren't enough headlines which the Conservatives would be happy to bury this week:

1. The bedroom tax has been declared 'discriminatory' and 'unlawful' by the Court of Appeal

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One domestic violence victim was made to pay the extra tax on an 'unoccupied' police-installed panic room, and disabled people in need of carers or specialist medical equipment have made similar claims

2. The Google tax deal has been condemned as nowhere near enough

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George Osborne said an agreement struck by HM Revenue and Customs for Google to pay £130m in back taxes is a "major success", but critics have pointed out that France and Italy are negotiating what appear to be much better deals.

Eva Joly, vice chair of the Special European Parliamentary Committee on Tax Rulings, said the deal paved the way for the UK to become a tax haven

3. Transparency International has condemned the UK as 'extraordinarily inept' at tackling corruption

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In a new report, the watchdog charity denounced the government for 'cosying up' unconditionally to states with appalling human rights records like Saudi Arabia and China

4. It was revealed this week that the government has been allowing British companies to sell spying equipment to repressive states

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Tools that can be used to intercept private phone messages and hack into devices have been sold to both Saudi Arabia and Egypt

5. The government tried to redefine child poverty

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The House of Lords voted decisively to force the Department of Work and Pensions to keep the measures.

The government announced plans last summer to drop official household income figures and instead define poverty by measuring worklessness and children's performance at school.

But we wonder which story will dominate TV screens this evening...


More: So, who exactly was David Cameron referring to when he said 'bunch of migrants' in PMQs on Wednesday?

More: Bedroom Tax ruled 'discriminatory' and 'unlawful' by Court of Appeal judges

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