More of the old nonsense from MigrationWatch and the tabloids

It appears that when I get hold of a bone, I can't let it go until I'm finished.* Sometimes that means hundreds of posts about banning Christmas - but other times that means I'll kind of miss the news for a bit while I look at something more closely. Either way, the readers suffer. All three of them.

I'm talking about the MigrationWatch report I posted about last Friday. I've gone through it point by point - but more on that later. While mooching around their website, I've found something a bit more interesting (to me anyway) connected to it's representation in the press.

MigrationWatch had released a version of these figures before back in November last year, but nobody was interested - even though that version of the stats show a lower number for the contribution per head of migrants. The contribution in that version is not 4p a day, but less than zero p a day. You'd think that would make a better story for the tabloids, but they obviously didn't agree, and there are a couple of reasons why. Let's have a look, eh?

The original version of the figures, in 'Minister admits that migration is of little benefit to Britons' are calculated using the net migration figure from 2004, which is higher than the one for 2005. It's odd that MW would do this in the first place, since the net migration stats for 2005 were published before this release - and it indicates that they have about as much idea as I have of where the £4bn figure comes from or what it refers to.

Anyway, MW represent the difference in terms of GDP per head as 'roughly zero'. This would cause a problem for the tabloids, as they'd have to explain that this means migrants contribute as much as everyone else. With the revised, higher figure of 4p a week, the papers don't have to mention that at all. The Mail's ''Migrants bring only 4p a week in financial benefit', says report' doesn't mention once that the 4p a week is what is produced over and above the level of everyone else, and although the Sun's 'No wealth from immigration' includes a bit of the working, it explicitly states:
The foreign workers are worth £2.4million a week to the British economy — but send home 29 TIMES that amount, according to a written Parliamentary answer. [Emphasis on completely fake figure all theirs].
This is skirting over the point that the £2.4m is in addition to the same figure produced by everyone else. It would be impossible to skirt over this point so effectively if a zero figure were used, and the papers would be forced to admit that migrants are worth at least as much as everyone else rather than imply that they're worth much, much less. (Not to mention that it's not a written Parliamentary answer, it's a Wetminster Hall debate - and the figure for the amount sent out of the country is from a completely different debate, said by a completely different person about a completely different group of people).

The second important addition to the second report is the inclusion of the £10m a day figure for remittances. As I mentioned before, this gives the dishonest impression that the same 185,000 migrants responsible for the small rise in GDP per head are responsible for the £10m a day, which is nonsense. Far more people than the arrivals of just one year can send money to other countries. But the £10m a day gives a useful hook so that the papers can dishonestly imply (or outright say in the case of the Sun) that immigrants take out 29 times more than they put in. Which is a great, fat lie.

Interestingly, the papers all ignored the other chapters in the second MW report. They're all attempts to make studies that show a greater contribution than MW's figure actually support MW's interpretation of the Government's £4bn figure. They have to go through some dodgy contortions to acheive that too, and the 4p a week figure is utter bullshit, but more on that later.

*I apologise unreservedly for that image. And why does it put me in mind of Whitesnake lyrics?

1 comment:

Luca's Ade said...

Wouldn't the claim "immigrants take out 29 times more than they put in" imply that a person probably working as unskilled labour, and thus in most of the country, not earning more than £250 per week, be able to live on one thirtieth of their wage? That's £8.33. If that's what they are doing then all these Polish guys should be on TV with their own "Pay your mortgage off in 6 months" shows.