Tuesday, 27 October 2009

MailWatch #6 Part 2

Part 2 of a 3-part instalment of our occasional service debunking migration stories in the Daily Mail, self-styled 'Last Bulwark Against The Tide Of Filth That Is Threatening To Engulf Civilisation'™

Part 1 : Part 3

A very strange Mail article came out on 19 October headlined 'Recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.3 million foreign-born people in the UK'. Now at first glance this article appears to be a typical Mail rewrite of a MigrationBotch press release, in this case 'Immigrant Population Has Increased By More Than Two Million In Eight Years - Immigrants have almost doubled under Labour' [19 October]. However, it changes MigrationBotch's claim that the immigrant population has increased by "nearly 700 a day" since Labour came to power mysteriously into "more than 700 migrants a day".

There might be some logic in that, if, as MigrationBotch claim, the foreign immigrant population has increased by less than 700 (see below), the total number including UK nationals returning to these shore will certainly take the total above 700. In fact, more than 87,000 migrants enter the UK every day according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) Travel Trends 2008, most of them only for a few days. But clearly (if anything is ever clear in a Mail article on migration) that is not what the Mail really meant, is it?

The MigrationBotch link is further reinforced by the "total to around three million since 1997" claim, which MigrationBotch derives from the data in Table 2.1 of the Communities and Local Government paper 'Regional Economic Performance: A migration perspective' (REP) and their own'estimate of "net foreign immigration (sic) in the period 1997 – 2000", which they claim was 0.7 million, "bringing the total under Labour to some 3 million." Having examined the data in Table 7.3 of Population Trends 126 of the ONS, the 0.7 isn't in fact much of an overshoot (by MigrationBotch's usual standards anyway) of the actual figure of 0.62 million.

Then things starts to get really strange. "In the last eight years, Whitehall has estimated that figures have reached 2.3million", which is followed later in the article by, "Estimates of the level of immigration were produced to 'fill the gap' left by the Government's unreliable statistics of the past dozen years." Again this must refer to Table 2.1 of the REP, except 2001 to 2008 is only 7 years and this isn't a Whitehall estimate. Instead it comes from two academics employed by Oxford Economics, a commercial arm of Oxford University, using "best available estimates from sample surveys between October 2007 and September 2008", because the Census of Population is only up dated every 10 years and therefore the relevant data is not otherwise available (which they would have known if they had bothered to read the 'Note on data sources').

Next we have the statement: "Out of a population of 60.4 million, there is now a total of 6.6 million immigrants in the UK, according to the Daily Express." So, in fact this article is not taken from the MigrationBotch press release, it is lifted from the Express article 'How Britain’s Leaky Borders Let In 700 Migrants Each Day' [19 October]. Must have accidentally deleted that press release then! But no, because we are then treated to the revelation that, "The findings were slipped out without notice last month and only revealed yesterday after academics discovered them and reported them to an immigration think-tank."

This clearly refers to the line in the previous day's MigrationBotch press release: "The report, by Oxford Economics, was quietly slipped out on the website of the Department for Communities and Local Government last month with no attention drawn to it." So the fact that neither Oxford Economics nor the Department for Communities and Local Government chose to press release the publication to the Mail or MigrationBotch means that it was "quietly slipped out". Also, it is more than a little disingenuous of the Mail to claim that "academics discovered them and reported them to an immigration think-tank", when they are one and the same i.e. MigrationBotch (or maybe that should be Alan Green, self-taught migration 'academic' and one-man 'think-tank'?).**

The article then goes on to recycle some statistics from the 2-page Executive Summary, before returning to recycling MigrationBotch's (for that read Alan Green) self-congratulatory text from the press release claiming vindication for his 'predictions' (reading the runes?) back in 2002. Also included is the following Green quote: "It is ironic that this is the week in which the BNP will be represented on Question Time, and is an appalling indictment of the way the present Government has handled this sensitive issue."

How shameless can you get? This story only exists because MigrationBotch put out the press release. They chose the date to coincide with the Griffin's appearance on Question Time to milk as much publicity for themselves on the back of media hype around the BNP. If it is an appalling indictment of the way anyone has handled this sensitive issue, it is an appalling indictment of MigrationBotch's crass opportunism.

The article was eventually rounded off (apart from a half-hearted nod to Phil Woolas) with: "Current projections say numbers in Britain, currently around 61million, will reach 70million by 2029 thanks to continued immigration and high birthrates among migrants", in anticipation of the ONS figures for the latest UK population projections out on 21 October. Except the Mail was wrong when it chose the lower value for MigrationBotch's projection of "70 million in the next 20-25 years".

Tomorrow in Part 3 we will examine the Mail's coverage [1, 2] of those UK population projects and Alan Green's opinion piece.

* Did anyone notice the inability of MigrationBotch to quote a simple sentence from the report? Recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.3 million foreign-born people in the UK suddenly becomes ‘recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.2 million foreign born people in the UK'
** In fact the Mail spills the beans later on in the article: "The Migrationwatch think-tank, which drew attention to the Oxford Economics report..."

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