How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part V: "The Quotes"

This is the fifth in a series of posts about exactly how the Mail article '120 immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria arrive in Britain every day to be circus stars' misleads the paper's readers. The other parts of the series are linked at the bottom of the post.

The article doesn't just perform a bait and switch and then carry on by telling the truth about the other A8 countries. It misleads about them, too - and carries on switching confusingly between them and Romania and Bulgaria.

The first way the article misleads is by packing the centre section with out of context attributed and unattributed quotes. These quotes are used in two ways - to further muddy the waters about the differences between the A8 figures and those from Romania and Bulgaria, and to give the impression that a host of external authorities agree with the article.

The quotes

First off, we have shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green. Of course he's going to be negative about government figures. It's his job. But what's interesting is how the quote is used. Here it is:
Conservative shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: "This blows out of the water the Government's proclamation that just 13,000 workers a year would arrive from the eight former eastern bloc countries."
Now, there's not a lot wrong with that in itself, but remember that leading into this, the article has made a point that purely applies to A8 migration, while giving the impression that it applies to Romania and Bulgaria. Plus, the entire focus of this article is supposed to be about Romanian and Bulgarian immigration. So, although when Damian says, 'This blows...' he's probably talking exclusively about the 49,000 who came in the first quarter of this year from the A8 countries, or at least the total figures for last year. The article gives the impression that he's talking about the 630,000 overall total as well as Romanians or Bulgarians.

Next, we have Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch. Round of applause please. Thank you. Here's the quote:
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: "The latest figures confirm that massive levels of immigration from Eastern Europe continue unabated.

"The extra 10,000 from Romania and Bulgaria that the Government knows about is a further addition to the total.

"This makes it even more essential to reduce immigration from elsewhere."
Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Andrew Green. When he's talking about the latest figures, he means the latest figures A8 migration and for Romania and Bulgaria. Then he shifts to talk about Romanians and Bulgarians, and then he makes a nonsense statement about reducing immigration from elsewhere. Why? What level is it at?

Anyway, it's the way the Mail uses this quote that's misleading - not necessarily the quote itself. What the article did with the switch was create the impression that some things that cast doubt on the figures for A8 migration also apply to migrants from the two new countries when they don't. So before they get this far, the reader has been given the impression that the self-employed and family members from Romania and Bulgaria are not counted. So when they see the comment about adding the 10,000 - with the nice little 'that the government know about' caveat - it only serves to bolster the idea that the two new countries' figures measure the same thing in the same way. But the government knows about a much, much higher proportion of Romanians and Bulgarians, because self employed people, some family members, those who claim to be self-sufficient and students are counted.

So, in effect, these two quotes extend the false association between the two sets of figures by adding what seem to be confirmations from two external sources that the association is valid.

Unattributed quotes and more equivocation

Always be sceptical of unattributed quotes. There are a couple here that reinforce the impression that people external to this paper support the article's criticism. Here's the first:
Critics are now warning that key public services, including schools and hospitals, could be put under increasing pressure.
The trouble with this is that critics of the government figures would include the writers of this article. This might be nothing more than a made up warning. Next:
Business leaders say they are concerned that up to half a million British youngsters may find themselves out of work.
'Business leaders' is wonderfully vague. Which ones? Do they know what they're talking about? How can we evaluate whether or not their conclusions are supported by the evidence? Why should we trust them? Do they even exist?

We'll come back, but for now, let's skip forward a bit to the next attributed quote in the article, as it probably sheds a bit of light on this:
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Government must understand that migration is not a long-term solution to the tragic skills shortages that many young people have.

"Over 500,000 18 to 24 year olds are presently out of work. Yet no one seems to notice because many of the jobs have been filled by willing migrant workers.

"This is unsustainable and we are in danger of creating a two tier society, with many going straight from school to a life on welfare."
This is probably who the paper is referring to as 'business leaders'. One guy. This quote is separated from the unattributed one to give the impression of greater numbers. Initially, I thought this might be a quote taken from a statement about something else, since nothing in the quote links it to Romanian and Bulgarian migration. Turns out I was wrong. It is about the Bulgarian and Romanian figures, buth the reason there's no link is because it has been cut out. It's been cut out because it's positive. It's from a BCC press release with the snappy title 'BCC statement: migration not the long term answer to tackling the tragic skills shortages of British school leavers'.

Here's the section of the release that the Mail has removed:
The current buoyant UK economy means it is no surprise that the high level of migration from Eastern Europe is continuing.

UK businesses value the benefit that migrants bring, recognising the work ethic that so many have in comparison to young potential British employees.

Wouldn't you know it - it was the positive bit! Who'd have thought that eh? It shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Mail have cherrypicked the negative bit. The bit about the benefit and the positive work ethic. Well, if you were about to start talking about how eastern Europeans are workshy benefit scroungers, you'd want to downplay that as well, wouldn't you?

Little swicthes among the quotes

Going back to where we'd got to before I skipped to that quote, there's a nice little bit of misdirection about the Romania and Bulgaria figures:

To tackle the problem, ministers have promised to limit the number of work permits handed out to Eastern Europeans to 20,000.
Since the article is mainly focused on migration from the two new countries, and has included quotes that deliberately serve to further the confusion between the two sets of figures, the reader could take away the impression that these new 10,535 from Romania and Bulgaria are what have led to the limit being introduced. It isn't a blatant implication, but there could be confusion that isn't clarified.

At this point, the paper could make the scope of the new figures from Romania and Bulgaria clear by revealing the number who have been issued with work permits so far. At the moment, the number including family members is 815 - out of 1,115 applications. The rest of the 10,000 are made up of those exempt from needing permits, the highly skilled, the self employed and those who register as self-sufficient. Keep that in mind when you see what the next unattributed quote is:

But critics have pointed out that the Government can do little to stop immigrants travelling to Britain or claiming to be selfemployed.
This comes straight after the article has just made a claim specifically about Romanian and Bulgarian immigration - mentioning the 20,000 limit. It then makes a definite claim about the figures, linking the sentences with the word 'but'. But if you're talking about the Romanian and Bulgarian figures, this sentence is demonstrably false. Looking at the actual figures, we can see that 155 people who applied to come as self-employed people to the UK have had their application refused. So yes, the government can stop people coming claiming to be self employed.

This may be getting a little confused, so it's time to boil everything down here a bit.

  • Damian Green's quote is about one set of migrants, but is used in such a way that makes that fact unclear
  • Sir Andrew Green's quote - which itself isn't entirely clear - has been used in such a way to compund the impression that the A8 migration is the same as Romanian and Bulgarian migration
  • Later on, the paper quotes David Frost of the BCC, nicely cutting the bit where he mentions the benefit of this migration. It separates this quote froma an earlier unattributed comment from 'business leaders', which is likely to be the paper's way of using the same quote twice
  • All these quotes are used to make it appear as though the three people quoted are agreeing with what the Mail has said up until this point. That includes the lie about the number of circus artistes
  • The paper uses unattributed quotes to make its own criticisms look well supported by a host of external authorities
  • A definite statement is made about Romanian and Bulgarian immigration, with a little bit of equivocation that makes it unclear exactly what has led to the imposition of a 20,000 worker's permit limit
  • A statement is made that only applies to the other A8 countries, but is linked to the previous statement about Romania and Bulgaria with a 'but', giving the false impression that there is no way to stop Romanians and Bulgarians designated as self-employed from coming to the UK
This is taking some time, but there really are lots of ways this article misleads and covering all of them will take a lot of effort. Bear with me. There's only the exciting conclusion to come.

Click below for the further thrilling instalments in 'How the Daily Mail lies about immigration'!

How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part I: "The Context"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part II: "The Bait"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part III: "The Switch"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part IV: "The Big Little Lie"
How the Daily Mail lies about immigration. Part VI: "The Final Chapter"

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