05/12/2010

Special report: are there too many blacks? What, how is that racist? Can't say anything now.

Via here
Late on Friday, the Daily Mail published a special report headlined: 'Special report: Will the white British population be in a minority in 2066?'

It's a curious question for the paper to ask, since just under three weeks ago it told us that indeed 'By 2066, white Britons 'will be outnumbered' if immigration continues at current rates'.

Why does the author, James Slack, feel the need to ask the question now then?  Is this 'special report' an in depth examination of the evidence behind the last article?

Unsurprisingly for Slack and the Mail, no it isn't.

As we'd expect, it's a tub-thumping endorsement of Coleman's original article in Prospect magazine, 'When Britain becomes "a majority minority"' which virtually deifies the MigrationWatch-connected Professor and inaccurately represents his article in order to add weight to the paper's political stance.  It's really just an extended, dishonest,  argument from authority.  There's a little more to it than that, which I'll get to later.

First, let's have a look at how the article treats Coleman and his Prospect piece.  Hurrah and praise be.
At this point it should be stressed that the professor, a government adviser who is one of Britain’s foremost experts on demographics, is hugely respected for his academic rigour and for the avoidance of emotion and prejudice in his work.
This is how he's presented.  I'm sure that's only in the interests of creating an impartial, honest picture.  Except he's not a government adviser, he's a former government adviser who only held that position for two years between 1985 and 1987.  Also, we're not given any external evidence to show how respected he is for avoiding emotion and prejudice.  This is just Slack bigging the guy up so we're more likely to accept what he says.

But Slack goes beyond that.  He misrepresents what Professor Coleman says 'white British' is and then deflects potential criticism of this inaccurate definition by making an untrue claim about it being 'the official definition academics use'. 

Here's what Slack says the definition of 'white British' is:
The white British-born population — defined by Prof Coleman as white English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish-born citizens...
That isn't what Professor Coleman defines as 'white British' at all.  Coleman uses ONS figures for his projections.  The ONS get their definitions from how people describe themselves on census forms and in surveys.  They have nothing to do with where people are born.

And here's how Slack deflects potential criticism of this definition:
Many observers will question the definition of ‘white British’, or consider it anachronistic or irrelevant. If you are British, it really does not matter what colour or race you are.

However, it is the official classification used by academics to gauge the pace of change, and the impact which immigration is having on society.
Umm...no it isn't.  Here's what Coleman himself actually says:
I have projected 12 ethnic groups in the UK from 2006, according to age and sex, following the official ethnic classification except that the "white British," "white Irish" and "white Scottish" groups are amalgamated into one ("white British" for brevity)... [emphasis mine]
So he actually draws attention to the fact that he is not using the official definition when he talks about 'white British', which isn't what Slack says it is anyway.

Slack probably gets the wrong idea about the definition of 'white British' by churning stuff from the first Mail article, which made the same claim.  Compared to the Mail's usual definition, which includes where your mother was born, it's pretty mild.  Still, it is closer to that usual definition, and it does give a false impression of what it means for 'white British' to be in a minority by 2066.  Even including all the children of white immigrants, the white British are still outnumbered in the Mail's version.

Coleman shows that who classifies themselves as 'white British' is variable when he compares his work to a bigger study, showing that he's projected that a low number of immigrants' children will classify themselves as 'white British'.  He says:
In their more complex model they make different, mostly lower, assumptions on fertility and migration and take more fully into account assumed changes in ethnic self-identification over generations which increase the "white British" population.
The research he's talking about here was carried out by Leeds University earlier this year, publicised in the news release 'UK in 2051 to be ‘significantly more diverse’'.  Remember it?  Probably not.  The Express coverage made more of a splash than the research itself:


So there is competing research that shows the percentage of Britain's population that would not count themselves as 'white British' will be 20% by 2051 - around a half Coleman's own projection.  The Leeds study looks to have been much bigger, was carried out by a team of researchers, took far more into account and was spread over three years.  Why should we believe Coleman's over this?  Does the Mail tell us?

Of course it doesn't.  It doesn't even tell us the study exists.  In an article with a headline that ends in a question mark like this one, you'd expect to see it at least mentioned somewhere, right?  But of course this wasn't published to actually ask the question.

The real reason for the story being repeated less than a month after the original coverage is to incorporate information from a new press release issued by a well known lobbying group.  Guess which one.  Go on.

On Tuesday, MigrationWatch - the independent, non-political body - published 'Huge public support for government restrictions on economic migration'.  The release was based on a YouGov poll conducted for MigrationWatch, which also asked whether respondents were happy about the prospect of white Britons being a minority by 2066. 

The purpose of the new 'special report' in the Mail is not to ask whether the white British will be a minority by 2066.  It's to tell us that yes they will, most people are unhappy about that, something should jolly well be done about it and that Labour and the Lib Dems both want an open door immigration policy in the face of public opinion.  The bastards.  

What we have in this article that appears in the 'news' section of the Mail website is an attempt to persuade disguised as the straight provision of information.  As is so much the norm for this paper, its news is in fact propaganda.

But whose propaganda is it?  While Coleman's Prospect article strives hard for the appearance of academic detachment, it does make an argument about the desirability of the developments it talks about.  Despite effectively saying 'hey, it might not matter so much if everyone cares much less about race in the future' it still makes the point that most people now wouldn't like the idea and we should take that into account.

After mentioning other usual anti-immigration hobbyhorses about overcrowding and building more houses, the whole thing concludes:
And yet, this huge scale of demographic and ethnic upheaval is neither desirable nor inevitable.
This doesn't look like the avoidance of emotion and prejudice to me.

MigrationWatch's YouGov Poll is an attempt to prove Coleman's assumption about it being undesirable to most people, but it makes a mockery of it's claim to be 'non-political'.  It's a clear attempt to influence government by emphasising the apparent popularity of its current policy and highlight the popularity of even tougher measures.  Just look at the press release's headline.

All three parties here are pushing for their usual demand - that immigration must be drastically reduced if not halted, while maintaining their usual pretence of merely providing us with information that should be examined.  The key difference is that they're explicitly stating something that used to only be dog-whistled about.  This is a disturbing and potentially dangerous development.

The anti-immigration lobby has always argued for an 'honest debate' on immigration, by which it meant that people should accept that immigration is a problem and debate what should be done about it.  Now they're arguing that something extra be included as an acceptable consideration in the debate.  We, they are saying, should allow our decisions on immigration restriction to be influenced by - to crudely put it - whether or not there are too many blacks and Asians.  This is a dangerous step back a good thirty years.

Even though there are halfhearted attempts to disguise it with passing mentions to integration and multiculturalism, it seems that rather than being something occasionally revealed when the mask slips, the racism behind much anti-immigration sentiment has now become an overt feature.  Worryingly, the question of when white British people will be in a minority has the potential of being the new 70 million scaremongering focus. 

Coleman says:
But unless integration, intermarriage or assimilation had made ethnic categories obsolete or symbolic...
Hang on a minute.  Let me stop him there.  Aren't they already symbolic?  What can you possibly tell me about someone purely from what 'ethnicity' box they tick on their census form, beyond having a stab at their religion and economic situation?

Ultimately, it would only matter if white British people were in a minority if black British people, or Asian British people are in some way inherently undesirable, or less British.

National newspapers explicitly conflating race and immigration and making it more acceptable to argue that we need to keep brown and black people in a minority are playing a very dangerous game. The first reply on this EDL chat thread on Facebook shows how (via @press_not_sorry) and the story is, naturally, churned over at the BNP's news section and reproduced on the Stormfront forums.

Of course, it won't be the papers' fault were there to be any 'civil war' to stop white British people becoming a minority.  Any unrest would be blamed on Labour and - cue the creepy music - multiculturalism.

More on this at Angry Mob.

9 comments:

pressnotsorry said...

I never tick those ethnicity boxes. I don't see what relevance they have to anything on the forms I fill in. Goodness knows how much people like myself skew the figures for the ONS and other organisations.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Exactly. Especially now we have the English Nationalist goons that will refuse to tick things with 'British' in it.

The real measurement is less reliable than one based on where someone was born. Hey, maybe article doesn't include a wrong definition by accident.

Akheloios said...

It also doesn't really go into the how people would inter-marry either. By 2066, it's quite possible that the majority of people would have one non-white ancestor. But how would you classify those people? They're descended from 'white-British' just as much as 'non-white'.

And as inter-marriage continued, the chance that you have at least some 'white-British' ancestry would approach 100% except for completely new immigrants. Who would be far easier to assimilate with the people with 'non-white' ancestry of a similar kind anyway, but still had 'white-British' ancestry as well.

In a few years it'll all be moot. British people will still be British people, but with a skin colour that is on average a half tone darker. So what?

julaybib said...

One of the reasons Religious Studies academics wanted a religion question on the census is that research has revealed that a significant number of respondents of Middle Eastern origin are known to define themselves as "white".

julaybib said...

Coleman is also a member of the Galton Institute - or as it used to be called, The Eugenics Society. Bit of a clue to his motives, I would have thought.

The Slurper said...

Did you know that James Slack was recently given a human rights award from Liberty?

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/about/human-rights-awards/index.php


What an absolute disgrace, particularly given the Mail's tiresome and inaccurate attempts to blame 'yuman rights' for terrorists hiding under your bed, prisoners feasting on swan and caviar, asylum seekers feasting on your children...

I'm going to write to Liberty to complain about this but I can imagine the response will be that the award was based on the specific campaign, not the journalist's oeuvre or the publication's track record. Still, the Mail quite proudly boasts of its antagonism to human rights legislation and knowingly distorts the meaning of that phrase.

Maybe James Slack will soon join Kissinger, Arafat and Rabin as a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

@Akheloios: You're right - he doesn't mention how many will be mixed race at all. He does say that lots of mixed race people might count themselves as white British - but there are no figures in his article for how many people are mixed.

@julaybib: I knew the census people were looking at adding extra categories to include 'Arab', but I don't know how knowing someone's religion would help that much.

Coleman's connection to the Galton Institute makes me uneasy too. On it's own it wouldn't mean much, but when someone with an interest in eugenics is also in the business of arguing against immigration so non-white British people are kept in a minority, it's bound to look a bit..well...creepy.

That said, we shouldn't jump to any firm conclusions - it's just something to be kept in mind.

@The Slurper: Jeepers Creepers! Still, the award was for a campaign that was one of the few things the Mail has done well recently, which was its campaign to keep gary McKinnon from being extradited. Can't complain too much about that.

If only there was a similar award for being rubbish.

julaybib said...

I have a slightly more troubling view of eugenics, being the parent of a child with severe autism.

Before WWII, eugenics was used ijn the UK to argue not only for segregation of the learning disabled, but for learning disabled men and women to be kept apart so they would not procreate. It was a version of eugenics that would be used by Hitler to justify the holocaust, where the learning disabled were among the first to be slaughtered.

The segregation of the learning disabled, which continued into the 1970s, is the main historical factor behind prejudice against the learning disabled.

Robert said...

I think we have moved on from this silly argument about how we will all be black or brown or dark skinned, who the hell cares, most white people will spend a fortune getting a tan.

I do not bother with those idiot who think being blond with blue eyes some how makes us British.

We are a mixed race anyway for god sake Romans Saxons and Normans and god know how many other races.

Black white White Black who the hell cares.