The Mail's headline is '120 immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria arrive in Britain every day to be circus stars'. I shit you not. According to the Mail's headline, every single person who applied to work in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria wanted to be a circus star. Or in fact more than the total number, as it turns out. I am almost lost for words. Of course, there's a withdrawal, but we'll get to that in a minute.
First of all, the Mail article opens with this:
More than 120 Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants are arriving in Britain every day, the Home Office revealed.This opening claim is really weird. This is what's wrong:
The figures - the first since the two countries joined the EU in January - show 10,535 have registered to work in Britain in the last five months.
- 10,535 registering over 5 months does not equal 120 a day. It equals around 70 a day. 120 a day for five months would mean 18,000.
- Over three months, it equals 117 a day. Either way, that's less than 120. Not more than.
- The report doesn't even cover five months. It covers three.
- The real figures do not show a total of 10,535 applications. They show 10,420.
So, onto the circus star thing:
Some 40,000 more are predicted to arrive by the end of the year. And many will presumably be seeking employment in a Big Top.Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that 40,000 is less than the number the paper previously claimed for just one month. Anyway:
For rather than the plumbers and builders many expected, the top profession listed by Romanians is "circus artiste". Most Bulgarians claim to have worked as chefs or caers while musician, researcher and hotel worker also make the cut.This is the limp withdrawal of the headline claim. It's a little bit misleading, too. Surprised? Here's how.
First, it ignores an important caveat from the actual report, which says:
The data in this section [the section including the 'circus artiste' figure] do not provide a full picture of the sectoral and occupational distribution of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals taking employment in the United Kingdom – solely those seeking access to the labour market through the work permit arrangements where access to the labour market is considered against labour market criteria.Right, so of a certain group of applicants, the top listed profession is 'circus artiste'. Handily, there's a total of how many total applications there are in this group. It's 410. I didn't miss out a zero. It's 410. So out of these 410 applications, the top listed for Romanians is 'circus artiste'.
Another handy thing. The report actually gives a total for how many are listed as 'circus artiste'. It's 55. I didn't miss out a zero then, either. Fifty five.
Now, we know the Mail lies through its teeth in headlines, and we know it uses the 'Withdrawn!' tactic to deal with that, and sometimes that can desensitise us - or at least me - from the process.
Just try to put everything you know about the Mail from your mind for a second and think about what this story has done. The headline says 120 people a day have come to the UK to be circus stars. 120 a day. For 90 days. Making a total of over ten thousand. And the real number is fifty five.
There's something even worse than that bald faced lie. And that's that I've become so desensitised to tabloid tactics that I wasn't going to mention that because I know that the lame 'top profession listed by Romanians' will probably save the paper from getting in any trouble with the PCC. I'm so used to seeing lying headlines that it didn't seem to matter too much that the Mail exaggerated yet another number in a headline. But we're allowing papers to claim that fifty five are more than ten thousand here. It's not like adding a sneaky extra 115 to a total of over ten thousand. It's multiplying a figure by nearly 200.
There's some more sleight of hand to follow though. The Mail will never disappoint us in that regard:
At the same time, the flood of migrants from other eastern European countries shows no sign of abating. More than 49,000 entered the UK in 2006, putting the total number registered with the Home Office at 630,000 - a far cry from the Government's initial estimate of 13,000.See that last bit, about 'the figures do not include' and yadda yadda yadda? That only applies to the other Eastern European countries. Self-employed people are included in the Romania and Bulgaria figures. Family members are also included. Not content with adding some sneaky extra numbers to the total counted by the report or pretending that they're all circus performers, the Mail have decided to give the impression that even more people should be added to the total.
But officials admit this could be the tip of the iceberg, as the figures do not include the self-employed, spouses, children or those who do not bother to register.
The rest is all about total eastern European migration, which is a different thing that works in a different way. All the talk about benefits doesn't really apply to the Romanians and Bulgarians. But doing a separate article wouldn't allow the paper to pretend that it did.
I accept that the actual number of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania is probably a bit higher than these real figures show, especially if what Greg Hands said is right. I accept that the number of people who came from the A8 countries is much higher than expected. I even - and this might come as a shock - accept that we should take proper measures to ensure that the arrival of new people is handled smoothly and with as little disruption as possible to existing local communities. But that's no reason to lie about things.
That the tabloids do shows that there is no point for the government to pander to them. The government went with tabloid sentiment in introducing limits for people from Romania and Bulgaria, but it didn't shut the tabloids up. They still lie about the numbers, because 'immigration is out of control and we're being invaded' is one of the lies they peddle to sell newspapers. Look at what happened here, with introducing limits on immigration from these two countries and counting people not counted in A8 accession. The Mail has still pretended that those people haven't been counted, and still pretended that they're all circus performers. Had the Government announced a total ban on all migration from these two countries, the Mail would still have pretended we were being swamped by them. Just look at how much higher the paper's estimates were than these figures before they were released. It was multiplied by seven and a half times in one article, and just under nineteen times in another.
This is the paper that is capable of taking a report about the effects of Eastern European migration that says:
Police report isolated examples of hate crimes, but there is no regular or widespread disorder.and reporting it with the headline 'Migrant surge led to "disorder and crime"'.
As Obsolete says, Margaret Hodge gives a helping hand to the BNP once a year, but the tabloids to it almost every day.
*UPDATE* I almost forgot to say! At no point does the paper actually give the real figure for the number of applications that were actually approved. It only gives a total number of applications (plus an extra 115 for luck). Their 'have registered' is misleading. Some have just attempted to register, and been turned down. The real number of people granted permission to work is 7,935. Or 88 per day.
*UPDATE II* The article I linked to is a different version of Obsolete's, but I followed the link from his site so the Mail have probably updated the article to take out things like the bit Obsolete quoted, saying:
Today's figures, which do not detail the numbers of Romanians or Bulgarians who have come to live rather than work,because it isn't true. The figures do cover people who have come to live rather than work, in the 'self sufficient' category. In a way, it's a shame that the Mail overwrite old versions of articles. It was a laugh being able to compare two versions of an article in 'I wanna sex you up'.
*UPDATE III* Ive edited the references to 40 people being circus artistes to 55 since 15 Bulgarians who didn't seem to have been included in the figures have popped up in the report now.