Things started on Monday, with coverage of David Cameron's speech mentioning immigration. By amazing coincidence, the very next day, Chris Grayling revealed that Peter Hain had apologised for making a mistake in an answer he gave in a Parliamentary debate earlier this month - and the media were all over the apology. By another amazing coincidence, almost everybody, including the lefty BBC who you'd imagine to be at the forefront of the liberal elite's stifling any mention of immigration, managed to perpetuate the false impression that Hain's mistake meant that there were more foreigners in the country than the Government thought. The summary of the BBC's coverage says:
The home secretary says sorry after it emerges 300,000 more immigrants work in the UK than previously stated.which is not true. 300,000 more immigrants got their jobs after 1997 than previously stated. The coverage on the BBC site compounds the impression with this:
The number of foreign workers in the UK since 1997 is now thought to be 1.1m, not the 800,000 officially recorded.which is also incorrect. The number in the country since 1997 is the same. The number who got their jobs after 1997 has risen. The problem is only one of categorisation.
The godawful BBC coverage continues in its broadcast 'Background to the revised figures', which repeats a number of times the nonsense claim that the government had revised the number of migrant workers present in the country. It adds the extra .4 million that includes British citizens born overseas to British parents as foreign workers. The whole thing is about how the government are confused about how many immigrants are in the country - when that isn't what Hain's apology was about.
This report also includes one of the stupidest simplifications I've ever seen - that because the government claims to have created 2.7 million jobs since 2007 and 1.1 million migrants are in the workforce who got their jobs after 1997, then nearly half the new jobs went to migrants. That is quite clearly stupid. Most people get their jobs by taking over from someone else. Most of the migrants here will have done exactly the same. And since a lot of migrant work is seasonal, it's even more likely that migrants will not be filling brand new posts.
It's putting up with this kind of crap that allows the Express to include its plainly false headline 'MIGRANTS TAKE ALL NEW JOBS IN BRITAIN'. The logic is faulty, and the claim is just not true, but since everyone else has already made the stupid simplification with earlier figures, the paper can get away with it.
But nobody is exposing it for what it is, and our supposedly liberal media are actively colluding in spreading specious nonsense about immigration rather than silencing debate on it. As lots of people have said before, the BBC's coverage goes from New Labour to the Tories and back again. It just so happens that at the moment, New Labour are pushing fantastically right wing rhetoric on immigration, with its 'British jobs for British workers' cobblers, insisting on viewing immigration as a problem and not even bothering to explain that the counting mistake is only one of categorisation when apologising for it. Only ever mentioning economic arguments for immigration plays a big part, giving opposition the present of only having to fart about with figures to try to show that immigration is a Bad Bad Thing.
So we come to the end of the week of Cameron's speech and we have his agenda parroted by New Labour, the right wing press, the BBC and the apparently left wing press. None of them bothered to explain that the 300,000 additions to figures aren't actually people nobody knew were present in the country.
This means the tabloids, given their penchant for making shit up, can tell even more extreme lies than they would normally be able. The Express can get away with just lying about how every new job has gone to a migrant. The evil goblin Hazel Blears, instead of pointing out that the figures aren't about the number of foreigners present in the country decided to blame the Office of National Statistics, which means the Mail can wonderfully contradict itself in 'Number of Britons in work falls by 270,000 - because migrants get most new jobs' by saying:
Yesterday, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears tried to shift blame for the earlier, faulty employment figures on to the Office for National Statistics.which is just bizarre, since the Mail had previously said government statistics hadn't included the extra 300,000 in their figures when they were in the Labour Force Survey all along. If we're saying ONS figures are the official government figures, why is anyone saying these people hadn't been counted?
"These are not Government figures - the independent figures from the Office for National Statistics. It's independent as I say, it's not Government figures," she told BBC Radio Four's Today Programme.
The ONS is, however, under the direct control of the Treasury until April.
The Guardian, Independent and Daily Mirror - our supposedly left wing press, are all silent on the fact that these figures don't show that the government didn't know how many foreign workers were in the country, and that they were in the official figures all along. That's how Hain realised his mistake - by looking at the government bloody statistics.
The right have been so successful with their nonsense bleating about how the left refuses to talk about immigration and controls the debate that those nominally on the left actively collude in a viciously far right debate and don't even bother to point out the stupidity of claims like 'half of all new jobs have gone to migrants'. The left even - and I include myself in this bit - joins in with the shifting of the terms of debate from talking about immigrants to talking about migrants, thus allowing the right to include more people than they would have been able in the past in the discussion. The Mail can now scaremonger about immigration with figures that include tourists because the left fails to differentiate between migrants and immigrants. All the right wing tabloids can create a greater impression of government incompetence by comparing figures that count different things - like the rubbish earlier this year when official figures for immigration were lower than the number of people on the Worker Registration Scheme. Of course the Worker Registration Scheme will include more people. A lot of them go home before one year. But deliberately conflating 'immigrant' and 'migrant' can make it look as though the two sets of numbers contradict each other.
If there's a left wing media elite that controls debate on immigration, where was it this week? What were our self described left wing papers doing not challnging this nonsense?
Of course, I might feel very silly after this rant if I'm wrong about what the figures signified. I haven't found anythig to contradict what I found at epolitix, but if anyone has links to any other explanation, please put it in the comments and I'll eat big crow and change everything here.