Friday, 28 August 2009

About those population numbers

A few short observations on the coverage of the population statistics, looked at in greater length over at 5CC.

1. It was entirely predictable that the one element of the stats that was in the favour of the anti-immigration lobby - the births to migrant mothers - would be the focus of the tabloid coverage. That the Express and Mail chose to use much the same headline on their front pages shows how little they otherwise had to cheer about.

There is the old problem of who these papers consider 'migrants', as many may well have become British citizens. As the Mail admits deep in its story:

Some of these [babies], however, will be of British descent.

But is Migrant Baby Boom even accurate? Well not entirely. Yes a quarter of all births were to migrant mothers. But the percentage increase was only 0.9% from 2007 (23.2%) to 2008 (24.1%). Does an increase of less than one percent make it a 'boom'?

And is Migrant Baby Boom even news? After all, both the Express and the Mail were telling us in May how 1 in 4 births were to migrant mothers.

Oh, and then there was the Mail article in July 2007 revealing...wait for it...'One in four babies born to migrant mothers'.

And this is what the Star refers to as a 'huge immigrant baby boom'.

2. There is the same old problem with the coverage and the 'experts' used. No TaxPayer's Alliance, surprisingly, but Damien Green, Migrationwatch and Balanced Migration, who all have the same agenda.

But what about the Refugee Council? What about the IPPR? Dramatic fall in migration figures exposes the scaremongering of anti-immigration groups is not what the tabloids want to report, so the Express was the only one to quote the IPPR at all - in one sentence at the very end of their coverage.

3. The Express phone poll of the day is: Has Labour's migration policy wrecked Britain?


4. The Express editorial claims immigration 'weakens' and 'threatens' British society, and raises the spectre of 'militant Islamism', just so the readers know immigration is bad, damaging and dangerous.

Despite a fall in immigration, and the lowest net immigration for five years, they claim the government is 'deluded' for claiming immigration is under control.

The editorial ends with the highly inflammatory line:

Unless sanity prevails Britain will become grossly overpopulated and tragically unrecognisable.

It sounds like something the BNP would say, who warn of the:

extinguishing of Britain and British identity under a tsunami of immigration.

5. The Express is being more than a little dishonest in its story Exodus of Britons growing. The first line claims 400,000 left Britain - the website version even illustrated by a wholesome white family with three children. Allied with the headline the message of 'white flight' is clear. But it is also wrong.

For one thing of the 395,000 who left the UK in 2008, 237,000 were foreigners returning home, and 158,000 were British citizens. Therefore Britons are in a minority of those leaving.

Also, the population figures from two years ago showed 196,000 British citizens leaving, so the 'exodus' is less, not 'growing'. If it is an 'exodus' at all.

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