Anxious to head off an anticipated flood of arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania, plans are being considered for a negative advertising campaign that paints the UK as a perpetually rain-lashed nation where jobs are scarce and it is almost impossible to get benefits.
While some cynics might argue that this is a reasonably accurate picture of the nation in 2013, the plan is designed to correct the impression that the streets of the UK are "paved with gold," an unnamed government minister is quoted as saying in The Guardian.
It's one of several measures under consideration to head off an expected influx of arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania when 29 million citizens of those nations gain the right to live and work in the UK next year under changes to current quotas.
The Guardian points out there would be a "peculiar irony" if the UK chose to "trash" its own image when governments around the world are spending a fortune making their nations look attractive to outsiders, a process nicknamed "reputation laundering". The paper suggests the proposed campaign might also highlight the "winter flooding of homes" or "the carnage of a Saturday night A&E ward" to deter unwanted migrants.
The idea of an anti-advertising campaign targeting migrants is not entirely new. Eurostar ran adverts in Belgium for its trains to London six years ago, showing a "tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup", the Guardian says.
The Daily Telegraph says the UK can expect a "surge" in arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria when EU freedom of movement curbs are lifted next year. People from Poland and other European countries gained the same rights in 2004, but the paper says the "economic crisis" gripping Europe is likely to increase the scale of migration this time.