Apparently, since there has been a big increase in the number of work permits that have been granted to non-EU members in the last ten years, this means that Labour are handing them out. Like sweets. But since we have no way of knowing how many applications for work permits were received, we have no way of knowing how true the caricature is. Handy that. It could be that the reduced costs and increased access to methods of travel have meant that the number of people applying has shot up, so the number granted for fufilling the required criteria has risen accordingly.
The trouble with the 'handing out' like sweets image for the Mail - aside from the gross oversimplification of choosing one category for entry in the UK - is that the paper wants to have its sweets and eat them. If the paper wants to argue that we have no control of our borders because of the vast swathes of illegal immigrants here, it can't on the other hand convincingly argue that it's too easy for immigrants to come here legally. If all you have to do to enter the UK legally is turn up, as the paper likes to imply with stories like this, then people wouldn't pack themselves in packing crates, cram themselves in false spaces in the back of lorries or sneak through the Channel Tunnel like rats (not my image, trust me).
These stats are over a month old though. Just like the stats I looked at in my last post. Is there a pattern emerging? I covered the Mail rection to Nick Clegg's calls for some illegal immigrants to be granted an amnesty, including how the paper gave half a page's worth of reaction to MigrationWatch in 'The wonders of the dead tree Mail' last week. One thing I hadn't spotted is that Clegg's comments were almost a month old, too. The paper covered the same comments on 26 August in 'Illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay, say Lib Dems'. Chief Constable Spence's comments have been followed up since last week too, and there do seem to be more anti-immigration stories in the paper than usual. In the last week, the website turns up the following anti-immigration stories in a search for the word 'immigration':
Polish phrase cards handed out to firefighters
Illegal immigrants given amnesty if they stay on run for 10 years, under Lib Dem plans
Romanians living in UK carry out 1,000 crimes in six months
Police force spending over £1 million a year on interpreters due to rise in migrant workers
Citizens' jury: What you are REALLY concerned about
PM's 'ask the people' project is missing the burning issues
Lib Dems say 600,000 illegal migrants 'should be allowed to stay'
Charmless and out of touch: The man who hopes to become the new Lib Dem leader
Belgian police detain 16 for India-Britain trafficking
If the BBC's worried about immigration, can we have an honest debate about it?
Mass migration and a 'fractured' Britain
Peterborough: A city crumbling under pressure from immigrants
French to force immigrants to give DNA samples
Overseas doctors ‘taking too many jobs’
Civil servant faces jail sentence for signing illegal passport applications
Civil servant signed fraudulent passport applications
French riot police battle the migrants queueing to get into Britain
Labour hands out work permits to 1m non-EU migrants
Police quiz Curry Queen linked to Cherie Blair over people smuggling
A fifth of crimes committed by immigrants
Immigrants 'must pay extra for health care and education'
The benefits cheats who built hotel with YOUR £400,000
'We don't even know how many migrants there are in Britain', says minister
Immigrant motorists fuelling rise in road crashes, says police chief
That's 24 in 7 days. Discount the obvious two doubles that are probably different versions of the same story and you still have an average of three negative immigration stories a day. There have been more in the print version for certain, since I've spotted at least two extras that aren't here, including MigrationWatch's piece.
In the week before, there were seven, and one of those was the France DNA story that got repeated in the last week. I haven't systematically checked further back, so don't know exactly how many of the last week's have been repetitions, or references to earlier articles but we know that a lot of the new stories are repeating old news.
So what gives? Why the sudden upsurge of bile? There are a couple of possible reasons. The first is the possibility of an early election. The Mail clearly thinks immigration is a Labour weak point, so beginning a deluge of anti-immigration stories might get the readers worked up.
The more likely explanation though, I think, is included in the 'Labour hands out work permits' story here:
Home Office Minister Liam Byrne is to publish the first comprehensive official analysis of the impact of immigration on public services and British life next month.Earlier in the year, the Mail published a couple of massively misleading 'estimates' of the level of immigrants arriving from Romania and Bulgaria in the first three months of this year in advance of the official statistics, which came out in late May. The paper did this first by counting the number of Romanians and Bulgarians visiting the UK and claiming they were workers, which gave 60,000. Not content with that, a couple of weeks later the paper published another article estimating the same thing, this time counting the increase in the total number of visitors from all ten new Eastern European EU countries and claiming they were all Bulgarian and Romanian - raising the estimate to 150,000. On May 22, the official figures were released. The total number of Romanians and Bulgarians granted work permits was not 150,000, or even 60,000. It was 7,120. I haven't left any digits off that.
What releasing such unbelieveably exaggerated nonsense figures would have done is set the actual figures up to look pitifully small by the time they were released. Here, I'm guessing the paper is doing the same to poison Liam Byrne's well. By the time his report is released, Mail readers will have been treated to a barrage of anti-immigration stories so that Byrne's report will seem woefully out of whack if it does anything less than say we're 'crumbling under the pressure from immigrants'.
It won't stop there either. When the official count of Romanians and Bulgarians granted work permits were finally released, the Mail claimed that 120 a day had registered to be circus stars. For a start, less than 120 had even attempted to register in total. Even less had actually been granted a permit. Even if you include every outstanding application, the average would be 97 a day. The total number who had actually applied to be circus artistes worked out at 55. Not 55 a day, 55 spread over three months.
So, expect more of the same as we've seen this week. And more of the same after Byrne's figures are published.