Coleman's figures. Again.

Okay. I've been sidetracked again because of MigrationWatch. Looking at Professor Coleman's submission to the Economic Affairs Committee has piqued my curiosity. There's a focus on ethnicity and a tantalising mention that the Committee's remit doesn't stretch to examinations of ethnic change beyond economic issues that I want to get to the bottom of. What does he think is important about ethnic change?

I'm still reading up on that stuff, so I'll follow it up later. But for the moment, I think I should look at his figures and the way the Mail misrepresents them in their table.

The main thing is the presence of this note at the end of Coleman's own table of costings:
These different estimates should not be added to make a total. They are preliminary and some categories may overlap with others.
So, what's the first thing the Mail does? Add them together to make a total, make another calculation of how much that would cost each household and then use that as a headline. I fail to see how this could be considered defensible, and wonder whether David Coleman has written to the paper in disgust (like Michal Garapich has done - the full text of which will be put up here in my next post). Somehow, I doubt it.

It might - might - be possible for Slack to claim he hadn't noticed that disclaimer. It would be impossible for him to claim ignorance over the second piece of blatant mendacity. In my last post about the table, I mentioned that four out of the twelve categories in the table were about ethnic minorities rather than immigrants. Actually, six of them are. There are no costings for treating immigrants with HIV or for immigrant crimes in Coleman's evidence - only for treating HIV in minority communities and for crimes attributed to minority populations.

These extra categories are further exaggerated by a crazy scheme of rounding up the figures. Coleman's figure for minority crime is £3.08 billion. Slack rounds this up to £4 billion (as well as pretending it's for immigrants and not ethnic minorities). We're talking about adding an extra £920 million here, not telling the guy in the sweetshop to keep the penny change. He makes some of this up by listing the cost of Local Authority race relations as £3 million when in fact it's listed as being £31 million. Even so, his shitty maths means that he takes a figure that there's a big disclaimer saying not to add together, adds it together and gets £8.8 billion instead of £7.9 billion. But it wouldn't be a Daily Mail immigration story if it didn't wildly exaggerate negative claims.

There's another part of the note I quoted above that I've been holding back. It's this:
Please see relevant text, especially paragraph 26.
Here's how paragraph 26 opens:
For many of the items discussed below it is questionable how much of the cost should be attributed to immigrants or to their descendants, and how much to the indigenous population.
So, some of the costs shouldn't be attributed to immigrants at all. We're not just talking about the ethnic minority stuff here, since he'd include those as the descendants of immmigrants.

Now, we're veering towards Coleman's costings themselves rather than the Mail's coverage of them. They have a whole set of problems of their own.

Why, for example, include costings for border control (at £229 million)? This isn't a cost of immigration that's overlooked - it's a cost of preventing immigration that would probably raise if immigration were further restricted. There's also a costing for enforcement action (at £337 million), which is there to prevent people immigrating illegally and deporting failed asylum seekers. Again, this is the result of preventing immigration. Further restricting asylum would create more failures and more need for deportations. Coleman's reasoning for including these seems particularly disingenuous:
They are, however, necessitated by pressure to migrate to the UK and before 1905 scarcely existed. A rational calculation might be to attribute the increase in the costs (adjusted for inflation) of immigration control incurred since the early 1990s, when net immigration was approximately zero.
This is just a ridiculous argument. Doesn't Coleman think that at least part of the reason these costs scarcely existed before 1905 is that people didn't want to come here in such large numbers because it was way more expensive, way less practical (the first passenger airline wouldn't be invented for a number of decades) and way more difficult to keep in touch with the family at home (the telephone hadn't been around for very long and hardly anyone had one, and it would be almost a century before the invention of the internet). Of what I've read of Coleman's work, there seems to be a bizarre insistence on focussing on UK government policy as if it's the only factor contributing to the increase in the number of people wanting to come here.

He also claims:
All counter-terrorism activity is directed against Islamic groups and individuals of predominantly ethnic minority, immigrant or asylum seeker origin.
I certainly hope not. You'd miss all sorts of crazies. I'm prepared to believe a large portion is taken by Islamic groups and the rest, but not all of it. I know I'd be worried if no money were spent on monitoring republican and Loyalist groups in Northern Ireland, making sure none of that will flare up again.

Add to that the costings of things that apply only to ethnic minorities rather than immigrants and there's scope there to reduce his totals by quite a large amount. Which makes his barb:
Sometimes the published Treasury justifications of the economic benefits of migration give a slight impression of having come off the back of an envelope or, in the case of those from the Bank of England, off the cuff.
all the more ironic.

More will come on Coleman's claims, but I think that's enough for now. Looking at this means I haven't even managed to look at the Mail's coverage of Coleman's colleague's claims that made the front page in 'Immigration set to increase Britain's population by a third' to see how that's been exaggerated (because it almost certainly has - that's how the Mail tends to work). And he is Coleman's colleague, despite Coleman coming from Oxford and Rowthorn coming from Cambridge. Both work for the Oxford Centre for Population Research, they've authored joint papers in the past and Coleman even references him in his own submission. Makes you wonder why they offered separate papers this time doesn't it?

Couldn't possibly be because that would give the impression of more widespread academic disagreement than there actually is could it? Why, that would almost be dishonest.

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