Mail immigration headline changes

It's a cherrypickaaah!
Yesterday, exclarotive covered an extremely misleading headline on a story in the Mail. 'Number of immigrants living in the UK long-term SOARS by 20% as a quarter of babies are born to foreign mothers' didn't actually show that the number of immigrants living in the UK had SOARED by 20%, but that net migration - the difference between people arriving in the UK compared to how many left for a year or more - was 20% higher than last year.

The story was a jumble of net migration, births to 'foreign' mothers and population density with lots of figures for each, so I naturally wanted to have a closer look to see if all the papers claims stack up. Today though, the headline and story have completely been changed.

The story is now 'Number of babies born to immigrant mothers doubles in a decade to one in four', the net immigration figures have been demoted below stuff about babies born to 'foreign' mothers, which have been lifted from July's 'One baby in four born to migrants: Number of foreign-born mothers has doubled', and the population density figures have been all but completely lifted out and given their own story, 'This very crowded isle: England is most over-populated country in EU'.
I'll look at the population density figures in a separate post, since they get their own story. For now, births to mothers born outside the UK and net migration.

It's pretty interesting that births to foreign mothers has been given priority over net migration figures. It looks as though the paper's narrative is now definitely more about foreign births rather than foreigners arriving in droves. This probably reflects how immigration figures are now not reliably high any more - even this current growth in net migration is only driven by a fall in numbers of people leaving the country. The number of people arriving actually fell.

Beyond that, the figures are presented in as misleading a way as we've come to expect from the Mail.

First - babies to mothers born abroad. You'll notice that the paper only compares last year's figures to 1998. There is no comparison to 2008. That's because the rise between 2008 and 2009 was less than one percent. As was the rise between 2007 and 2008. As I mentioned earlier, these figures were reported last month. You might have missed them because they were eclipsed - perhaps because they weren't shocking enough - by the paper adding in ethnic minority figures and being that little bit more explicitly racist.

Second - the net migration stats:
The figures also reveal the UK population swelled by nearly 200,000 last year - one of the largest increases during Labour's 13 years in power.
That this is one of the highest figures since 1997 is explained to us in the text quite early on. We have to look at the spiffy table to work out it's the second lowest since 2004 or read a bit further to see the paper misrepresenting in the text - but more on that in a bit.

That's a minor point because the paper tells us:
There were 196,000 more immigrants than Britons leaving for abroad, according to official figures released on Thursday.
This is a pretty shocking misrepresentation of what 'net migration' means. The 196,000 is not the difference between immigrants arriving and Britons leaving. It's the number of people including Britons returning after a long stay abroad arriving, compared to the number of people including non-Britons leaving. In fact, the number of non-Britons leaving outnumbered Britons by 211,000 to 91,000. More than two thirds of the people the Mail describes as 'Britons' were actually non-Britons. This one throwaway sentence very seriously misleads the paper's readership.

Then comes this odd couple of sentences:
The 196,000 net migration figure - up from 163,000 in 2008 - has been exceeded only three times.

Higher figures were recorded in 2004, 2005 and 2007, years in which hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans came to the UK after their countries joined the EU.
Exceeded only three times? Looking at the table included in this very article shows that it has been exceeded a total of four times, in 2004, 05, 06 and 07. This is confirmed by the ONS figures. Why leave out one year?

The paper tells us how the number of British citizens and non-British citizens coming to the UK was 'not statistically significant' from last year without being told that there was a small rise in the former and a small drop in the latter before telling us:
Immigration from Eastern Europe continued to add to the population. Estimates showed that 52,000 Poles and other Eastern Europeans came into the country while 47,000 left.
Eh? Howcome there's no comparison with last year like the other sets of figures?

Hey, do you think it's because the number of Eastern Europeans coming to the UK in 2009 was a statistically significant difference from 2008 - a 35% drop?

This is the sort of immigration article we expect from the Mail, but haven't seen quite so often since immigration figures started to drop. We've got a further drop in total immigration, but net migration rising because of the number of people staying in the UK. This produces what might be a blip in the net migration figures, but the Mail cherrypicks the data and misrepresents it to make it look as shocking as possible.

It's not as dishonest as some articles we've seen before, but it's not exactly honest either. The most interesting thing is the prioritising of births to mothers born outside the UK over immigration figures.  Not least because someone born here is not an immigrant, regardless of where their mother was born.  The scare stories are moving away from being about what people have done toward being about what people are.

Anyway, top rated pre-moderated comment (posted before this story changed):

So, more inspiration for the fascists from the Mail.  Hurrah for the blackshirts and all that.

Official figures:

Office for National Statistics
Home Office

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