Labour's lies about immigration

So, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee published 'The Economic Impact of Immigration' last week. I had promised to look at it alongside the Mail's coverage, and I wish I could say that the only reason I couldn't is because life got in the way, but I can't. The earth-shattering report so deftly speared the lies Labour have been telling us about immigration and included so much new information that it's taken me a week to realise how accurate the Mail's coverage has been all this time.

Not really! One-nil!

Now, while the Lords report is actually way more negative than most of the things we're used to seeing distorted by the Daily Mail (the paper that managed to take a document that said there 'was no evidence of widespread disorder' as a result of immigration and report it with the headline 'Migrant surge led to 'disorder and crime'), it's obvious from the get-go why the paper decided to replace 'Now the Lords is forced to admit that each migrant is only worth 28p A WEEK' with the new article rather than publish a separate new one.

That would be because the Lords doesn't 'admit that each migrant is only worth 28p A WEEK', nor does it mention the paper's 'almost £9bn' cost figure, which the paper arrived at by distorting the figures of Professor David Coleman, adding together a list of figures he explicitly warns not to because the results will be misleading; not to mention rounding up a figure of £3.08bn to £4bn, adding almost a billion pounds to the already misleading total. In fact, the 'each migrant is only worth 28p A WEEK' claim is itself a serious distortion of the calculations that have been made to arrive at the figures for how much migrants are worth to GDP per head, but that's by the by.

The article that has replaced it has gone through a number of changes itself, with the original including James Slack's byline at first, but dropping it when a lot of extra information was clumsily weaved in - presumably to insert 'balance'. The new version is now 'Lords' report exposes Labour's lies on the 'benefits' of mass immigration' on the paper's website - shouted triumphantly as 'IMMIGRATION: THE GREAT LIES' (beneath a smaller 'Labour's case for mass migration demolished') on the front of last Tuesday's dead tree version.

As I said, the Lords report is more negative than most of the things we see the Mail farting around with, but it has of course been exaggerated by the paper. Nowhere does it say that the Government has lied about immigration. It does say that the £6bn total contribution the government uses to show the contribution of immigrants to the economy is 'irrelevant and misleading', which is pretty harsh, but it doesn't say the £6bn is made up or isn't true - just that it shouldn't be used to argue the benefits of immigration.

One of the claims in Slack's original article is this:
Dismiss Ministers' "preposterous" assertion that migrants boost the economy by £6billion a year;

See that word "preposterous" in quotes to show that it's a direct quote from the report? It isn't. The word "preposterous" doesn't appear once in the whole report.

To be fair to the Mail, the Lords report does argue against some of the governments arguments for immigration, but it doesn't say the government has lied.

So, while the report does say that using figures for GDP per head are more accurate than overall GDP figures, it also neatly illustrates how those figures can be distorted to give a misleading impression about the lack of benefits of immigration. In 'Labour finally admits minuscule benefit each migrant brings to Britain - just 58p a week', the paper argues:
Migrants benefit the UK population by only 58p each week, the Government has finally admitted.

And goes on to say:
Ministers have been focusing on the so-called £6billion boost delivered to the economy each year by immigrants.

But a landmark report by the authoritative Lords Economic Affairs Committee yesterday dismissed the argument as "irrelevant and misleading".

Now, what does that suggest to you? To me, it suggests that the Lords report said that immigrants are not actually worth £6bn a year to the economy, but are in fact only worth 58p a week - a paltry thirty quid a year rather than £6 billion. Which is rubbish.

Nowhere does the article explain how the 58p a week figure is arrived at or even what it represents. It doesn't explain that this is 58p per week for each of the sixty million people in the country. It does say:
Now it has emerged that Home Office officials did compile a figure of the annual benefit of migration to the native population, which is also known as Gross Domestic Product Per Capita.

A memo quietly passed to peers says the total is only £30 a year, or a paltry 58p a week in 2006.

Which doesn't exactly clarify things. And, presumably, the 'memo quietly passed to peers' was publicly available on the Oral & Written Evidence pages for the Lords Committee (which has disappeared now the report's been published), in the same way that Professor Coleman's paper for costs was. Except the Mail didn't say Coleman's figures weren't quietly passed to peers.

The paper carefully leaves out the way the 58p a week figure was calculated. If it was calculated in the same way as other attempts to do this, it takes the number of people immigration added to the population in a year, the amount immigration contributed to GDP, took the difference between those figures and divides it by sixty million and again by fifty two. Professor Coleman explains here, in an article where he says the benefit is close to 50p a week where he's supposed to be defending MigrationWatch's 4p a week figure. Doh! This article makes it look as though we're talking about the total figure migrants contribute to the economy. Which if we're talking about GDP per head and the xtra contributed by migrants would total about £1.8bn.

And, of course, it leaves out that MigrationWatch's original figure for migrants contribution to GDP per head, trumpeted loudly by James Slack in the Daily Mail was over fourteen times too low, at 4p a week.

Of course, being a James Slack article, it includes his misleading '£ 8.8billion' figure for the costs of immigration. Unlike the government figures, we have actual evidence of Slack deliberately manipulating those figures to arrive at that total.

So, it's as I've said before. Don't take what Ministers say about immigration at face value - but that goes double, triple and quadruple for the Mail and MigrationWatch. The government might take a total figure of around £1.8bn and make it sound like £6bn, but the mail will make the same sound like thirty quid.

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