Wednesday, 4 March 2009

1 In 9 People Can't Be Wrong?

Last Wednesday the Office of National Statistics released, as it does most days, a whole tranche of statistics - 22 in all to be exact. In amongst them was a news release entitled "Population by Country of Birth and Nationality from the Annual Population Survey". Now, the fact that the right wing press took up the statistic that roughly 12% (more than 1 in 9) of those resident in the UK being born in foreign countries is clearly uncomfortable for someone who clearly see's himself as Labour's very own Enoch, Powell that is. However, his lack of a clear grasp of the situation so obviously shows that he lacks the old Tory despot's intellectual credentials.

In the same report, the ONS also released figures for the estimated population resident in the UK by nationality (roughly 7% or 1 in 14), at the same time as making it perfectly clear the reasoning behind the ONS' own preference for the figures by country of birth: "It is possible that an individual’s nationality may change, but the respondent’s country of birth cannot change. This means that country of birth gives a more robust estimate of change over time." Perfectly clear as a far as we can see.

On top of that Woolas has made a number of other accusations against the ONS:
  • about a press release running to 9 pages highlighting the 1 in 9 figure as the main finding (surely he can't be refering to the very same 8 page excel spreadsheet and 1 page of accompanying notes containing these figures but that nowhere highlights anything?);
  • something about them "out of schedule, highlight(ing) the figure two weeks earlier because it was "topical"". (Where did they highlight this Phil? Please tell us.);
  • and that the release was "at best, naive or, at worst, sinister."
Me thinks Phil Woolas doth protest too much.

Now it goes against the grain to say this, but you have to agree with what Andrew Green of the hated MigrationWatch said, “To imply that there is some sinister motive in simply telling the truth is astonishing” (most of the rest of what Green also had to say on the subject was of course complete twaddle). Maybe the reason that the ONS was 'highlighting' this Phil was because they were only set up on 1 April 2008 and that this was the first time they had released an analysis of this type? And that it's you that's the fool not them?

It just seems that every time Woolas opens his mouth, he appears to be saying that "it's everyone else that's the racist, not me". Get a grip Phil, these are statistics. It's you and the right wing tabloids that are putting them to sinister use, not the ONS.

But then again, he's right to be worried the implications as it's likely that he'll loose his seat at the next election if the BNP take away sufficient numbers of the 'traditional' Labour voters that voted for him last time round; even if he is, as on blog described him, "one of those delightful left-wing racists history throws up from time to time"?

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