The first set of reports in the press were apparently based on an early draft of the Executive Summary of a document produced by Civil Servants from the Home Office and Cabinet Office. We were treated to nice little snippets in the Mail showing us exactly what had been removed. Imagine the dishonesty of taking things out of a document. There's definitely a secret plot if someone does that.
MigrationWatch helpfully include a link to the early draft of the Executive Summary (http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/pdfs/BP9_28_Migration_economicSocialAnalysis2.pdf) so we can have a look at it ourselves and see the evidence of conspiractsts' mucky paws all over it. I had a look to see if I could smell a whiff of cordite.
Imagine my surprise when I realised that the Mail's version of the document is also very heavily edited (included in the pull out quote box here). There are numbers next to the Mail's quote box listing the edits. They look like paragraph numbers, right? That's what I thought when I saw the Mail version, but they're not. What the Mail labels as '1' is the first edit in the summary, it only lists 6 of 9 edits, and context is removed from around the edits, which makes them look like they made a bigger part of the document than they actually did (plus, I can't find half of the sixth edit anywhere).
The most important thing that's been edited from the newspaper coverage of the draft is this:
This study is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute a statement of Government policy. In particular, this study is intended to be the start of a process of further research and debate - by identifying both what we know from existing data sources and analysis, and where further analysis is required.See that bit where it says it 'does not constitute a statement of Government policy'? That's the clue that it's not a chuffing policy document. You know what that bit is? The equivalent of the old joke about finding the missing page of the Bible that says 'This is a work of fiction...'
So when MigrationWatch and the papers describe it as a policy document they're not telling the truth. When everyone is up in arms because this proves Labour policy was to increase multiculturalism they're talking rubbish. The document does not state policy.
In the context of trying to present the best evidence and analysis in a discussion document, it's not unexpected that some things might get cut as the document is redrafted.
Here, watch this. I'm going to brandish Occam's Razor at you. See how the light glilnts off the blade.
Maybe as the document was scrutinised, people found that the evidence for the social benefits wasn't that strong. Just a thought. Here's some supporting evidence from the actual final draft of the document:
Not enough is known about migrants’ social outcomes.That might suggest there wasn't enough known about social outcomes to include everything in this kind of evidence-based document.
Oh - funny story. This bit - you'll love this - comes in a section titled 'Social outcomes'. It was removal of reference to social outcomes in the Executive Summary that made the papers and Andrew Green say that there was a mad conspiracy to keep the social outcomes secret. But there's a whole section about them in the main document.
The second set of reports are new revelations about the 'plot' in the last few days, culminating in this front page in the Express:
If Labour was talking about the Express, they were bang on the money. Same joke as Anton and MacGuffin, but I couldn't let that one go.
These new stories are about more references cut from a draft document. It's probably the same document as this Executive Summary. Trouble is, nobody's given us the full version to compare. Apparently, it says something about how studies show that anti-immigration sentiment is more closely aligned to racism than economic reasoning, and the tabloids have spun this into calling anyone who objects to immigration racist. Maybe these bits were cut because the evidence wasn't good enough, maybe someone decided the studies weren't that simple or maybe these studies were contradicted with other evidence so it was easier to cut it all. Difficult to know without seeing the original.
Still, we've already seen the best bit, so it doesn't matter too much. I'm a bit surprised that such a big storm has been whipped up from something so small.
Imagine what might be in the original though. There's an evil conspiracy to keep it from us. It's a secret plot!
The Mail originally included some direct quotes from the document, but they've been cut. Cut! There - it's proof of a secret tabloid conspiracy to keep the truth from us. The truth is that immigration is brilliant and if we increase the population to 70 million we all get free ice creams and a picture of Anne Hathaway or Orlando Bloom in the nuddy!
They're keeping it from us. Betrayal!
Edited for spelling & grammar on 24 Feb.