Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Myth Of The 70 Million

Oh dear, the immigration flat earthers are at it again , in this case the 'Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration', babbling on about the mythic 70 million mark for the UK population. The essence of their argument is that:
  1. Too many foreigners are coming over here stealing our school places, doctors' appointment slots, hospital beds, road scape, shopping trolleys and other benefits of global capitalism and the legacy of Empire, which could in the end lead to the loss of such British traditions as the post-lager curry.
  2. That there is (or at least the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found) "no evidence that net immigration generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population", contrary to the commonly held view that it generates a net positive benefit. [1] Not surprising really since there has been very little research done into the economic effects of immigration. [2]
  3. 40% of new households formed by 20031 (the magic date when the population is currently projected to top 70m) will be the result of immigration, approximately one every five minutes. Tick tock. A quick look at these figures [3] reveals they are assuming an average size across the board for all new households of 1.63 people. Surely they know that all these foreigners live 8 or even 10 to a room?
  4. "We call on the major parties to make clear commitments in their General Election manifestos to reduce net immigration to the levels of the early 1990s (nostalgia for the Thatcher years) – that is less than 40,000 a year compared to 163,000 in 2008 – in such a way as to ensure that the population of the UK will not reach 70 million." You could of course introduce compulsory sterilisation of the social inadequate or economically unproductive or even compulsory euthanasia (not a particularly good option given the projected rise in the 'grey' population, currently one pensioner for every 3.2 workers, will drop to 2.8 workers for each pensioner by 2033, together with the fact that it is the influx of a predominantly younger migrant population that is currently stopping that ratio from being much lower).
  5. "The first requirement is a clear political decision to put in hand the measures required to restore control over our borders, to break the present almost automatic link between coming to Britain and later gaining citizenship, and thus take a range of further measures to limit the growth in our population." i.e. withdraw from the EU and go back to the days when the cost of moving around the globe was so high that only the vey rich could afford it and therefore have the chance of gaining UK citizenship.
  6. "Nearly a million votes by our fellow citizens for an extremist party amount to a danger sign which must not be ignored." Let's not mention those nasty BNP people, but lets do take back racism for the mainstream.
So having cobbled together that this ropey set of 'arguments', [4] who do the Balanced Migration crew's chose as their front man for today's exercise? Some retired old C of E vicar called Carey, who decides to come over all Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper-like on the BBC and claim that immigration is a Nu Labour plot to sap and impurity all of 'our' precious Christian bodily fluids or heritage or some such reactionary rubbish. So much so that it might put "social harmony" at risk, sending hordes of W.I. members, whipped up in to a riotous frame of mind, out on to the streets armed with jars of jam and sponge cakes to maraud around attacking innocent foreigners who do not share Carey's understanding of the UK's culture, parliamentary democracy, 'christian heritage' and commitment to the english language.

Needless to say the yellow press lapped it up. We had five pieces [5] in the Telegraph and in its on-line version, including 'Reduce net immigration to zero, say MPs'; 'Coalition demands population be kept under 70 million' - "An unprecedented coalition of MPs and public figures, including a former Commons speaker and former Archbishop of Canterbury, have demanded the UK population be kept under 70 million - or risk public "harmony".", except that the the group have been knocking around for the past 15 months to little or no notice, except in the sort of papers that are happy to perpetuate this sort of scaremongering; and the piece-de-resistance: 'Migrants should understand Christian heritage, says former Anglican leader' - "Migrants should respect the Christian heritage of Britain while the immigration system needs to focus more on values, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said."

The Mail, not to be left out had 2 articles, '70 million is too many: Immigrant-fuelled population boom will damage society, say leading public figures' and a Carey headed one 'All immigrants should learn Christian values, says Lord Carey', which subsequently mutated into 'All immigrants should learn our Christian values: Former Archbishop of Canterbury's warning over population' and then to ''I fear for my grandchildren' says former Archbishop of Canterbury, as he calls for Christian values to be defended' in the on-line version.

There was also an opinion piece by one Harry Phibbs (an all too enticing name to comment upon) entitled 'Immigration is not just a numbers game' and laying out the Word according to The Mail (hallowed be thy name) - all waffle about "misguided emphasis on multiculturalism" and that "insufficient effort is put into ensuring that everyone can speak English, that the law is enforced without fear or favour"(!?) and the "welfare system encourages immigrants to be locked into dependency and bureaucracy rather than encouraging their innate enterprise and ambition to make a contribution to the economic prosperity of us all."

He finishes of this tosh by claiming that we should "remember it's not just a numbers game. It's about achieving harmonious relations for those who are already here. That means fairness and ensuring that those who have come to live here make a positive contribution to our national life." So does this mean that Dacre and the Mail are going to change their editorial policy and stop being a racist mouthpiece slagging of all things foreign? Of course not. [Are we the only people that have noticed the hypocrisy of the latest Mail promotion of £20 holidays in France? The Mail hates almost everything to do with France except when there are public displays of breasts or some islamophobia or foreigner-bashing involved on the party of our cousins across La Manche.]

By comparison, the Express' take on it 'MPs Urge Brown And Cameron To Deal With Immigration Levels' was rather paltry given their participation in the push to raise the profile of immigration on the 'phoney election campaign' agenda. However, the Mirror took up some of the slack with 3 versions of the story (at least in their on-line version) which added nothing to the debate (or lack of it), although they did directly mention the BNP as did the Scotsman and papers like the Liverpool Echo.

So what are we left with? Not a lot really, just a lot of people wanting the comfort of the crowd so they can air their prejudices and not be slapped down for effectively saying "let's end immigration except for the mega-rich and those with skills that we need to exploit but cannot provide ourselves for the right price".

[1] MigrationBotch did pull all the stops out with their evidence to the very same committee, searching out all the negative effects they could to bring the figure for the positive benefit down as much as possible [see: 1, 2]. Of course the idea that immigration benefits the UK economy to the 'Equivalent to a Mars bar a Month' is a long-held position. An interesting discussion on MigrationBotch's position can be seen at David Smith's
[2] For a discussion on the lack of research into the economic benefits of immigration in the UK, see: Immigration. Benefits for the UK.
[3] One new foreign household each 5 minutes for the next 21 years = roughly 2,208,960 households. As 40% of all new households, the total = 5,552,400. As the current population is roughly 6.1m, then this would mean they are assuming an average household size of 1.63 people!
[4] Interestingly, amongst the 20 people that signed the declaration, significant absences from the group's members listed on their website are Ann Cryer MP, Peter Lilley MP, Lord Lamont, Lord Ahmed, Archie Norman and 4 others. Surely they can't all be on holiday?
[5] Including an opinion piece 'Immigration: an overdue debate' and an on-line comments piece 'Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, shatters the Anglican consensus on immigration' by Damian Thompson, the Telegraph blogs editor.

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