No crow for me please Mum!

You underestimate the sneakiness, sir.

'No crow for me please mum!' That's what I said at the end of 'Taking a Gamble', which was about the Mail article 'Immigrants have taken four in ten homes since 1997', which has been welcomed by the BNP since its publication.

I got my reply from the House of Commons Library (HCL), and it seems I was right. Hurrah! I don't have to eat crow or swan. And I was just perfecting my Polish accent so I could blend in at the riverbank.

Before I look at the figures and my reply from the House of Commons Library, I ought to point out that the wole premise of the article is pretty shoddy. You'll see some of why in a bit, but what Slack has done is taken the total number of new homes built since 1997 and compared them with the number of new immigrant households he claims have been created since 1997 and that's it.

So, the headline? Complete bollocks. It doesn't specify 'new homes' for one thing, implying that 40% of houses in the UK have been occupied by immigrants since 1997. For another, even if it did specify new homes, 40% of them have not been occupied by immigrants.

He does go to the trouble of withdrawing that claim straight away in the opening sentence, by saying:

Four in ten homes built over the past ten years have been needed because of immigration, figures have revealed.
But even that doesn't sufficiently clarify that he doesn't mean that 4 out of 10 new homes have actually been occupied by immigrants. He actually means that if you take the total number of new immigrant households since 1997 and compared that number with the total number of dwellings built, it would represent 40%. He then dresses up this oversimplified and potentially misleading claim and pretends it has come from a respectable source rather than just himself playing about with figures. So, what did HCL say about the research Slack crows about? This:
I have traced the only recent Library Research Paper (House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/38: Social Indicators) from which the Daily Mail may have extrapolated their interpretation of these data. You can obtain the Research Paper itself at the following link:


The pages which seem relevant are 34 to 35.
Given the amount of crowing about how great and independent HCL are and how they came up with Slack's figures, you'd think HCL would know instantly what document they must have come from. But they didn't.

Looking at the Social Indicators paper, you'll notice that the only figures in the relevant pages the Library mentions are those for the number of new dwellings built. 'Immigrant households' aren't mentioned on those pages, or anywhere else in the document at all.

There's an extraordinary amount of bluster in the opening paragraphs of the Mail article about how these figures come from the HCL, who are independent and yadda yadda yadda, and this is presumably to emphasise their trustworthiness over shady government stats. The thing is, they are government figures quoted by HCL - not produced by them. There's a note right at the bottom of the table Slack presumably got his dwellings built figures from that says 'Source: DCLG, Housing Statistics Live Tables'. The figures Slack is crowing about coming from an independent team of researchers actually come from the DCLG.

This crowing about HCL research works to create the impression that all the figures he quotes and all the conclusions he makes about these figures between the first 'said researchers at the House of Commons Library' and 'the research raises huge questions,' are actually from HCL research.

But looking closer, we can see that the only figures he explicitly states are from the HCL are the ones showing how many new properties have been built since 1997 and the number of new immigrant households a year were established between 1992 and 1997.

I can't for the life of me find any figures anywhere among the HCL research papers that show any figures about the number of new immigrant households that have been established. The researcher at HCL didn't even know where they could have come from, since they must have come from something quite old.

Since there's no explicit link between the 66,000 a year figure for new immigrant households sine 1997 and HCL, it seems he must have got that figure from somewhere else.
But where?

Now, there is a reference to 66,000 new immigrant households a year being set up elsewhere on the parliament site - so maybe I'm just nitpicking about it not coming from the Commons Library. You decide. The only place I could find on the parliament site mentioning the figure is 'Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions - Written Evidence'. That's not it - that's just where it is. The title of the document is. . .wait for it. . .'Memorandum by MigrationWatch'.

So, in amongst some figures that are implied have come from HCL is a cuckoo. The 66,000 a year figure would appear to be a MigrationWatch one.

You underestimate the sneakiness, sir.

Now, of course I might be wrong here. I can't find any reference anywhere anyhow to Slack's claim that 592,000 new'immigrant households' have been created between 1997 and 2005. 592,000 divided by nine is just under 66,000, so there may be another source Slack has got his 66,000 a year figure from.

In any case, even if Slack were right about his 592,000 figure (which seems unlikely, given the reluctance to give a source and give the probably misleading impression that it came from HCL), it's simplistic and misleading to say that becasue 592,000 new households have been established by migrants, then 592,000 properties had to be built. Let alone imply from the headline and opening sentences that that many new houses have gone to migrants.

Especially as he's taken the highest annual average for the number of new 'immigrant households' and applied it across ten years without adjusting, and used the actual number of houses built which has actually risen over the last few years, rather than taking 2004's level and pretended it applied for the last ten years too.

Experience shows that I shouldn't really speculate any more without knowing what figures he was using and where they came from. I'll send another message to HCL to find out where the 'immigrant household' figures came from, and the DCLG to see if they're taken from their household projections - but really, this article has already proven to be misleading enough.

Especially if the 66,000 a year figure is Migrationwatch's prediction for the future based on 2004 figures, and not from the House of Commons Library at all.


septicisle said...

If the Daily Mail had any sort of way of communicating with its hacks, then I'd suggest emailing him to find out where he got his figures from. You could take a guess I suppose: jamesslack@dailymail.co.uk jslack@dailymail.co.uk etc

Not that you'll probably get a reply. I've never received one from any of the Sun hacks I've attempted to get a riposte from.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Cheers, I'll try something like that as well. I've done that sort of thing before by emailing editors at the Mail, and people at the Times and never actually had a reply.

The only paper that has ever bothered to reply to me is the Express. Their online editor said he'd look into whether or not the photo that said the juror wearing an mp3 player wore a full face veil should be removed. It's still there.