This is the quality journalism scandal pays for

I hadn't realised when I was posting about Paul Dacre's speech yesterday, but at the time there was a typical example of the kind of 'reporting and analysis of public affairs' that we might lose if the tabloids have to stop reporting scandals kicking around on the Mail website.

'Home office controls on migrant workers 'are a con'' is the headline. It's a cracker - since that 'is a con' in the headline is attributed to nobody. When James Slack later says in the article, 'The Home Office was immediately accused of attempting to 'con' the public,' he's probably left 'by me' off the end of the sentence. So, we're off to a good start.
Ministers have slashed the number of jobs available to non EU migrants by 200,000.

But the number of work permits given to those outside Europe is likely to be cut by only 14,000.
What a con. I tell you what, I'm bloody scandalised.

Where does the 'is likely to be cut by only 14,000' figure come from? How likely is it? Don't go searching the ONS to try to find the figures. They're not there. They've been made up calculated by James Slack himself. Here's how:
Under the Home Office's old work permit rules, there were around one million jobs falling into the category of shortage occupations.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said that, when the Government's new points-based system is introduced for shortage occupations later this month, that figure will be cut to 800,000.
Right. There are a million 'shortage occupation' jobs, and these have all been available to non-EU migrants. Woolas has promised to cut these jobs by 200,000, which he has done. But this is not good enough because:
Jobs which have been removed from the list include secondary school teachers, other than those specialising in maths and science.

However, the vast majority of the jobs on the list - while open to non EU nationals - are not currently filled by them, with EU workers taking a significant number instead. Of the current one million shortage occupation posts, only 70,000 are filled by non-EU migrants.

Based on the assumption non-EU migrants will, under the new list, continue to fill 7 per cent of shortage occupation jobs, this number will reduce to around 56,000 - a fall of only 14,000.
Here's a question that might sound a bit crazy. Bear with me. What if - right - what if most of the people from outside the EU fill the jobs that have been cut from the list? Wouldn't that mean a bigger drop than 14,000? Here's a list of the shortage occupations. Only certain types of doctor and nurse are included. Aren't quite a lot of dcotors and nurses from outside the EU?

On top of that, a condition of the new system is that:
Employers will need to get a sponsor licence to enable them to bring migrant workers into the country from outside the European Economic Area. [From the UK Border Agency press release]
That would have the potential of reducing the numbers of non-EU workers even further.

Sorry, did I just knock over your house of cards?

For a bit of comic relief in the story, Slack quotes Sir Andrew Green, of MigrationWatch infamy, saying:
Sir Andrew said the announcement was 'pure spin'.

He added: 'We believe this so-called shortage occupation route should be suspended to give British workers first crack at all these jobs.'
Here's a quote that might be pertinent to Sir Andrew Green's comment from the Shortage Occupation List Q & A:
Q: Are jobs on the shortage list available to British people?

[Wait for it...]

What was that about 'pure spin'?

But this is clearly a NuLiebore con. The Government promised to reduce the number of non-EU migrants by 200,000 and it's likely that the total drop in non-EU workers will be less than that.

Waitaminute! Here's that press release from the UK Border Agency website I quoted earlier - '200,000 fewer jobs available for migrant workers under new rules'. It would appear that there's not a single claim about specifically non-EU migrants.

This is probably the best bit about this article. I love it. If I'm right, everything else in this post is basically filler. Take a couple of seconds to brace yourself for it.

Where does the idea of a reduction of 200,000 non-EU migrants come from? Who originally tried to trick us all? When you want to find this sort of thing out, Google is our friend.

Searching for 'non-eu migrant reduce 200000' returns an article with the headline 'Number of non-EU workers allowed into Britain is cut by 200000 ...'. Where? In the Daily Mail. Click the link and you get the new version about the claim being a con. A claim that was made in the Daily Mail.

It would seem that someone at the Mail looked at the figures and made the wrong assumption about them, because they are a fucking idiot.

What a con! How dare we lie to us? Bastards!

Whether or not that person was James Slack is unknown - but we have a lovely echo of the classic question asked in Slack's 'Analysis: Spinning and a gullible liberal media led to 'migrant crime wave myth' headlines':
Even if accurate, the coverage would have begged several questions, not least who had claimed there was a migrant crimewave in the first place?
A question answered by looking at Slack's earlier article 'Chief constables called to crisis summit with Jacqui Smith on immigrant crimewave'.

Has James Slack just fisked himself, or another Daily Mail hack? Who knows - and who cares?

I was going to end this post by asking what sort of person would decide that a claim about the number of jobs offered to migrants being reduced is a con if it doesn't reduce the number of people coming from outside the EU - given that most non white people coming into the UK would fall into that category, but I hadn't stumbled across the possibility that the initial claim was made in the Daily Mail.

Seriously - if anyone can find any claim made by anyone in government or from any government agency that suggests that 200,000 non-EU migrants would be stopped from coming to the country, put it in the comments. Please. As much as I'd like to have my work here cut short by Mail hacks fisking each other (or indeed themselves), I really don't fancy having to try to work out whether it's the government or itself the paper is sticking it to.

I tell you what - thank god for the Mail reporting on the contents of Kerry Katona's shopping bags. Without that, we wouldn't have such incisive analysis of policy as this.

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