Take the story from the front page of the Daily Express, 'Britain to build 2 million homes for migrants'. Here's what the BNP has to say about the article, by the way:
Today the Daily Express has published an article vindicating all that the BNP has ever said about the strain being put upon the infrastructure of Britain by continuing to permit unfettered mass immigration. Thank you, Daily Express - it’s good to see that you have finally caught up with us.I have a policy of not fucking linking to those shovel headed goons so you'll have to Google for it, but it's there on the BNP site, and the entire article is reproduced in full there.
The Enemies of Reason has already given the article the treatment it deserves. Obsolete was right to dismiss it out of hand, since it isn't really anything we've never seen before. I looked at virtually identical figures before, in 'Taking a gamble' and 'No crow for me please Mum!' These are just the same figures applied to the future rather than the last ten years. Still, it is nice to have it confirmed that the figures James Slack claimed were from the House of Commons Library were actually from MigrationWatch.
In a nutshell, here is how MigrationWatch pulls off this set of figures.
Back in March, the DCLG produced a set of projections of the future number of households in England, 'New projections of households for England and the regions to 2029'. It says that 33% of new households will be created as the result of net migration. It also explicitly states:
The household projections are not an assessment of housing need.So what you should definitely not do is assume that the increase in the number of households is the same as the number of new houses that need to be built.
MigrationWatch then produced the briefing paper 'The impact of immigration on housing in England' based on these figures. It explains in its first paragraph what the DCLG figures are, and ends the paragraph with:
This amounts to a requirement for 200 new homes every day to house the additional immigrant population.Thus completely ignoring the DCLG's disclaimer. I'm reminded here of James Slack's interpretation of Prof David Coleman's lame estimates of the cost of immigration, in which he ignored the disclaimer saying not to add the figures together as the result would be misleading.
Strangely, this connection is left out of the actual evidence presented to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee - but the Express adds it back in. Now call me cynical, but I can't help wondering if that claim was left out because evidence to the Committee will come under far greater scrutiny than the other stuff MigrationWatch produces that gets mindlessly parroted by papers like the Express.
The number of new households is not the same as the number of new homes that have to be built for a number of reasons. Here are a couple off the top of my head. There are derelict and unoccupied properties that can be refurbished. Some people own more than one property that they may decide to sell. Some properties that house only one household at the moment can be converted to house more than one household. Properties that aren't used as housing can be converted, as they have been in some warehouse districts across the country. You might be able to think of more reasons.
Another problem with MigrationWatch's claim in their original briefing paper and the Express's claim in this story is the part that says new houses need to be built 'to house the additional immigrant population'. It might be possible to argue that zillions of new homes will need to be built as a result of immigration, but the idea that they will need to be built to house immigrants can only be entertained by people with their own crazy moon logic. There's a reason most immigrant 'ghettoes' the tabloids talk about are in the most run down parts of town, and that's because housing in those parts is cheaper than everywhere else. Even if immigration means a stupid number of new houses are built, the immigrants are highly unlikely to be the ones living there.
It's this crazy moon logic that the Express story is based on - the same crazy moon logic that led to the Express headline 'MIGRANTS TAKE ALL NEW JOBS IN BRITAIN'. The fact that a larger number of jobs were filled by migrants than there were new jobs created since 1997 does not mean that all the new jobs were taken by migrants. The fact that there will be a number of new immigrant households between now and the future does not mean that they will live in nice new houses. 'BRITAIN TO BUILD 2 MILLION HOMES FOR MIGRANTS' is just as much a bunch of complete rubbish.
In terms of looking at how the tabloids operate, there's nothing much new here. There's the unquestioning acceptance of MigrationWatch figures. There's the further beefing them up. There's the exaggerated claim in the headline. There's the familiar way they make a claim in the most lurid way possible despite explicit disclaimers that say their interpretation is wrong. There's the careful ignoring of the fact that we're talking about England and not Britain. There's the tired old recycling of the old joke Unity talked about in 'The blacks have got all the houses, the blacks have got all the houses' (when I got to secondary school, these same tired jokes were recycled to apply to Asians).
You might wonder if MigrationWatch's press release about their figures was carefully managed to scupper the IPPR's submission to the Committee from a couple of days before. Especially when you consider that MigrationWatch already made a submission about housing in November that they didn't issue a press release for. But I don't think they're clever enough and I don't think they'd need to. The tabloids wouldn't touch anything that didn't say immigration will make the sky fall on our heads with a bargepole, unless they distort and lie about it first.
The only possible new development is watching the Express moving closer and closer to coming out and supporting the BNP.