Brighton No Borders’s MailWatch series

Posted on 12/06/2010

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A series of articles by No Borders Brighton in the second half of 2009 debunking migration-related stories (or lies, to be more accurate) in the Daily Mail, the self-styled “last bulwark against the tide of filth that is threatening to Engulf civilisation,” i.e. those filthy foreigners wanting to steal our jobs, our homes and women.

Mail Watch #1

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 23 July 2009

Yesterday the Snail published a scoop, ‘Calais migrants mutilate fingertips to hide true identity‘ trumpeting “Migrants massed in Calais in hopes of getting into Britain are mutilating their fingerprints so that their true identities cannot be established, it emerged today.” Wrong, this “sinister development” is a widely documented practice that has been going on since Eurodac, the centralised EU computer fingerprint data system, was introduced in 2003. That the Mail has only just found out about it merely reflects the level of ‘research’ that goes into the smears, sorry ‘stories’, it publishes about the Calais migrant situation in particular and migrants in general.

Peter Allen, the paper’s Paris correspondent and ‘author’ of this piece, well known for researching his stories from the comfort of his office desk, claims that “the most common method was to place all ten fingers* on an oven hob and turn up the heat.” Of course the migrants all live in nice little pied-a-terres where they have kitchen stoves on top of hot and cold running water and all the other creature comforts that scrounging asylum seekers are meant to have.

He then goes on to conflate Eurodac with Europol and claim that the hiding of fingerprints circumvents a system that “turn(s) back [known criminals] at borders, preventing them living in countries like Britain on benefits while they claim asylum, or else disappearing into the black economy”, especially as “Police in Calais believe that some of the 2000 odd UK bound migrants sleeping rough in the town are repeat asylum seekers with criminal records.”

Outstanding, except the logic falls down on a number of points. One, if you have been refused asylum in the UK once, then you are not going to apply for it a second time and therefore cannot be a “repeat asylum seeker”. Two, asylum seekers cannot claim ‘benefits’ in the sense that he and other anti-immigration obsessives believe. The National Asylum Seeker Support Service (NASS) is the only form of ‘benefits’ open the asylum seekers and it provides low quality housing, mostly in dispersed shared accommodation, and £42.16 per week in cash (or a weekly voucher worth £35 for ‘failed’ asylum seekers). Hardly the lap of luxury. And NASS assistance is usually only available for asylum claims submitted at a port of entry not ‘in country’ i.e. will not be available to people smuggling themselves into the UK.

In another story entitled ‘Calais migrants ambush Britons at knife-point in terrifying highway robberies‘, the paper that once said “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” claims that “Migrant gangs in Calais are targeting British holidaymakers in terrifying ‘highway robberies’. Would-be illegal immigrants are forming human roadblocks to force motorists passing through the French port town to stop. Travellers are then robbed at knife-point by the migrants, who are desperate for funds to help them sneak into the UK.”

Yes, the paper that brought us the Zinoviev letter appears to have landed yet another scoop, this time one that seems to have evaded everyone else including both main papers in the area Nord Littoral and La Voix Du Nord, neither of which would shrink from printing such a story if it were true. They even managed to get some juicy quotes quotes from the local police but then all of the Mail’s quotes are not always kosher.

During the run up to the Calais No Border camp Peter Allen managed to interview (again probably by remote viewing as he wasn’t actually seen in the area for the entire duration of the Camp) a French anarchist called Thierry who “has already pitched a tent next to the CRS’s temporary quarters next door to Calais port.” Strangely, Thierry’s location mysteriously disappeared from the story on the Mail’s website as quickly as it went up and we were forced to question his existence as no one in their right mind would camp anywhere near the CRS HQ, especially a lone anarchist in the run up to a Camp where 3,000 up-for-it riot police officers were to be deployed.

A third article under the banner ‘A million failed asylum seekers will get free NHS care in human rights U-turn‘ claimed that “NHS treatment will be available for tens of thousands of failed asylum seekers to ensure their human rights are honoured, it was announced yesterday.”

So how do we got from ‘tens of thousands’ to the figure of ‘millions’? Ah yes, it’s all down to MigrationWatch (why don’t they just say Phillip Green? He is MigrationWatch after all**) who believes “it could open the floodgates to ‘up to a million’ illegal immigrants.” And this story displayed yet another standard Mail trope, the use of a stock photograph of migrants in Calais, now standard practice for almost all articles on migration with the Mail (sort of makes their agenda transparent really).

The piece then continued, “There are understood to be around 450,000 failed asylum seekers who have not left the country, although only 10 or 20,000 are directly affected by the new rules.” So where does the millions come from? It’s far from obvious. What does Andrew Green have to say? “Sir (sic) Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said the rules gave the green light for up to one million illegal immigrants to get free NHS care. This is possible because GPs can put patients on their books without checking if they are entitled to free care.”

Er, yes. But again, where does the million figure come from? If there are 450,000 failed asylum seekers in the UK, of which “only 10 or 20,000 are directly affected by the new rules”, and last year there were 25,000 asylum applications (30,000 in 2008 and 28,000 in 2007), all people who previously have had the right to free health care (until the time ones asylum application is denied), where are the extra 550,000 coming from?

The problem with this fiction is not only do the figures not add up but when registering with a doctor, the receptionist (this is the person who actually registers the patient not the doctor Mr Green) will require you to fill out a GMS1 form, as well as checking to see if you have a NHS Card or number and address of your previous GP. The form asks for date of entry to UK (if non-UK citizen) and would require you to show your passport as a further check of EU citizenship. If not, then one would have to show one’s Application Registration Card (ARC), which everyone making an asylum application in the UK receives and which contains a photograph of the holder and fingerprint on an embedded chip. Therefore anyone who has not made an asylum application and does not fall into these categories would be unable to register anyway, irrespective of the new changes.

Green goes on to say, ‘This is yet another capitulation to the immigration lobby. No wonder they are queueing up in Calais.’ And this from a man who claims he has no political axe to grind. The Mail however clearly does have an axe to grind except it’s not obvious whether it is against the migrants or all foreigners. These articles on Calais constantly praise the stance of the Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart***, their new Iron Lady, but the French themselves are also a frequent target of the Mail’s ire, ”Go back to your disease-ridden country!’ What the French said to British schoolchildren with swine flu‘ and ‘Thousands of French chipmunks carrying potentially fatal diseases ready to invade Britain‘**** being just 2 of the stories in recent days.

* All foreigners are mutants with an extra finger on each hand!

** Has anyone else ever seen or heard of anyone else from MigrationWatch? They have a list of members of their Advisory Council on their website but as far as one can see no one else is mentioned except this ex-professional diplomat, who since retiring has “devoted his time to voluntary work” including this “independent organisation” with “no political axes to grind.” After all, he only presents the facts…in a comprehensible form.”

*** No doubt we’ll be seeing a photograph of her in the paper as soon as they find one of her in a swimsuit.

**** “French experts warn that the animals, which can also carry rabies, could soon reach Calais and sneak aboard vehicles and vessels heading to Britain. Many carry ticks infected with the Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease, a nerve illness that can disable and even kills victims if not treated early enough.” No they are not talking about Afghans.

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Mail Watch #2

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 1 August 2009

In MailWatch #1 we pointed out the the paper’s claims that “would-be illegal immigrants are forming human roadblocks to force motorists passing through the French port town to stop. Travellers are then robbed at knife-point by the migrants, who are desperate for funds to help them sneak into the UK” and that the local police had issued a public statement warning “the nine million Britons a year who pass through Calais … to keep their windows closed and doors locked until they are safely inside the ferry terminal.”

Strangely, no confirmation of these claims could be found in either of the main local Calais papers, Nord Littoral or La Voix Du Nord, on the police website or anywhere on any French websites despite exhaustive searches. The local police station denied all knowledge of it and so far the Mail has failed to respond to requests for copies of the statement and their sources for the car-jacking story.

Now, the Nord Littoral itself has waded into the argument with their own article on the veracity of Mail stories, saying that Anne-Sigrid Catton, Deputy Commissioner of Police, denies the Calais police had issued any public warning to UK tourists. Nearby Coquelles detention centre is also quoted as saying that it has no records of any incidents involving migrant violence against tourists.

The Nord Littoral article also goes on to point to other occasions when the Mail also played fast and loose with the truth. On Tuesday the paper alleged that Calais migrants were now squatting empty council houses, quoting one Philippe Bouvard, the president of a Calais association of residents, as saying: “Many families in Calais are furious that homes meant for French families have been overrun with migrants.” Except no one at the Office Public de l’Habitat de Calais has ever heard of this person. On top of that, they have only one empty council house on their books and they state that, even if the squatting story were true, it is impossible for the migrants to have illegally reconnecting the utilities as the Mail has claimed.

Now the paper that the Association of Chief Police Officers has in the past accused of misquoting information about immigration and warned that its “racist expressions towards asylum-seekers appear to have become common currency and ‘acceptable’ in a way that would never be tolerated towards any other minority group”*, likes to print at least one story a day vilifying the Calais migrants or asylum seekers in general. But that day they had two such articles, the second bemoaning the fact that tax payers money was being used to bribe migrants via the IOM assisted returns policy to return home for £1,700 and a free flight.

Another non-story. In fact, this program was originally set up in 2007 and the fact that it was receiving additional funding from the UKBA’s Returns and Reintegration Fund and France’s Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration had been announced back in May. Why publish a story about this now? Maybe it was because it “emerged last night that the Government is reconsidering funding joint flights with the French to take failed migrants home.” Except this in fact came out of the recent Evian summit at the beginning of the month, not on Monday night.

On Wednesday the Mail took a slightly different tack in that this story was based on fact: ‘Calais migrant cried rape as revenge against people smuggler who failed to get her into Britain‘. Now we don’t mean to minimise the seriousness of any rape allegation, however this one was in fact only ‘newsworthy’ in the eyes of the Mail’s editor because it happened in Calais and involved migrants, conveniently provided another stick to beat them with. Had it not involved migrants, even if it had occurred outside the Mail’s own offices, it would not have rated the column inches given this Calais story.

The most amazing Mail story of the week however, and not just because of its length, was ‘Bloody siege of Calais: The violent new breed of migrants who will let nothing stop them coming to Britain‘, by one Paul Bracchi. In it he relates the story of how the Mail’s very own intrepid photographer Will Leach was allegedly attacked on 22nd of July by irate migrants using lumps of concrete to smash his car windows; the Mail’s reputation obviously precedes it, even amongst the migrants!

Whilst trying to get “dramatic footage” of two “would-be asylum seekers “climbing into the gap between the cab and trailer of a lorry, the sun glinting off the giant telephoto lens of our slumming-it paprazzo appears to have alerted the migrants that yet another bloody tabloid journo was on their case. So they did a Pierce Brosnan/Alec Baldwin/Lindsay Lohan/Hugh Grant/Lily Allen/Robbie Williams/Pete Doherty/Britney Spears/Kayne West/Amy Winehouse [delete as applicable] and saw him off in a less than friendly fashion.

This incident provoked 2,000 plus words of vituperation in response from the paper. Unfortunately, like most of the Mail’s diatribes, it was shot through with prejudice and errors. After a little riff on the name of the ‘Jungle’, “where fights and feuds between rival factions are commonplace”, “a godforsaken ‘community'” more “akin to the trenches”, the article mentioned “a security guard at an American owned company on [Rue des Garennes] was clubbed over the head with an iron bar a few weeks ago.” This clearly refers to an incident at the Thioxide plant, also the site of a meeting that the article claims the French immigration minister Eric Besson attended “a few weeks ago to listen to the views of those who work and live near the Rue des Garennes.”

The big problem with this is that the meeting actually occurred on 23th of April, with the attack on the night-watchman happening on the 16th of March. That’s 14 and 19 weeks ago respectively, hardly “a few weeks” in anyone’s book. But this is typical of the Mail’s fast and loose way with the facts.

Here’s another Mail classic from the same piece: “A single raid by the CRS in April resulted in 194 arrests of suspected people traffickers. In other words, nearly a quarter of those living in this sprawling cardboard and tarpaulin city had possible criminal links.” Yes, 194 people were arrested in Calais on 21st of April in raids, which was ostensibly aimed at traffickers, many of them children. However, despite the 194 “suspected people traffickers” being dragged off to police stations in 3 nearby cities, the prosecutor’s office in Boulogne-sur-Mer found no one to hold on trafficking charges and almost all were eventually released, a fact that was widely covered in the French press and even made it in to the pages of the Daily Mail!

Further on in the article, after all the babbling about police having “now stepped up patrols” (apparently “not just a story spun by the local council’s public relations department.” What can he mean by this, even if he and his cameraman “had seen the evidence for themselves”?) and nonsense about migrants willing to “mutilate themselves to conceal their identities” (referring to removing their fingerprints** to avoid detection, which is hardly mutilation), we get some crocodile tears.

Then, having reluctantly conceded that many of the Calais migrants are children (so they are not all money-grabbing ‘economic migrants’ or even people traffickers), the article tells some of the children’s “pitiful stories” and says “equally tragic examples of forgotten youngsters were standing in the long, winding queue for the twice-daily soup kitchen (sic) in Quai de La Moselle”. Yet more lazy journalism. The Quai de La Moselle is in fact the site of a food distribution operation at lunchtime run by Belle Etiole, one of two volunteer-run projects in Calais. The second evening distribution however is run by Salam, a completely separate humanitarian organisation, and takes place half a mile away at the Hanger Paul Devot on the Boulevard des Allies.

Now, the incident with the photographer was meant to have occurred on the 22nd, with the article being published on the 25th, but Salam stopped operations on the 17th of July to give their exhausted members their annual summer break (with Belle Etoile stopping on the 31st). So this highly paid and supposedly observant journalist does not seem to know that his “twice-daily soup kitchen” occurs in 2 separate places and that only one was still operating when his and his photographer’s skirmish in the “Bloody siege of Calais” was meant to have taken place.

So what are we to conclude from all this? Good old-fashioned stupidity? Genuine mistakes? Lazy mealy-mouthed journalists trying to beat a deadline? Or just the standard yellow journalism we have come to expect from the sort of mendacious hacks that are employed by this tub-thumping right-wing anti-immigration rag? We’ll leave you to make up your own minds.

* Which ACPO held was increasing the risk of “significant public disorder.”

** Interestingly the Mail has consistently failed to mention one of the most common means of removing fingerprints used by the migrants, sanding them down with glass-paper. But that is far less dramatic than burning the tips of ones fingers. [See also: MailWatch #1].

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Mail Watch #3

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 16 August 2009

Since the last edition of MailWatch, the intervening two weeks have been incredibly quiet on the vilification-of-Calais-migrants’ front. In fact there have only been two Calais-related stories, ‘Migrant hid in Border Agency bus to reach UK… and twenty immigration officers failed to spot him‘ [02/08] and ‘Calais people smugglers ‘more likely to be British’‘ [03/08], and both of those were at the beginning of the month. Of course that doesn’t normally stop the Mail reminding its reader that there are still ‘dangerous hordes of filthy foreigners’ just waiting to cross the Channel to ‘steal our jobs/homes/benefits/women/etc.’. So on 4 August, in a story entitled ‘Lesson One in Britishness: Migrants taught how to claim benefits‘, there was a photo of, yes you’ve guessed it, Calais migrants.

Now forgive us for being obtuse, but where is the link between the following:

“Immigrants are to be given instructions on how to claim benefits as their first step in a new life in Britain…The instructions were set out in a Home Office paper on how immigrants will in future be asked to qualify for a British passport by earning points and credits.” … “At present those allowed entry into Britain gain citizenship almost automatically after five years.”

and a photograph with the caption ‘Asylum seekers in Calais: The government is suggesting a points-based system for migrants who want citizenship (file picture)’ that appeared between the two sections of text?

If the article is meant to be about so-called ‘legal’ migration, those arriving through official channels or who have legal status as approved asylum seekers, why put a photograph of Calais migrants in it? Obviously some of the migrants in Calais will be applying for asylum status when they make it across the Channel (and many are likely to fail as they will already have been fingerprinted in France or a third country and, as a consequence, will be denied asylum in the UK). However, the vast majority will not bother to gain ‘official’ status, either because they have some naive belief that Britain is a land of freedom and opportunity or, more likely, because they know that they have not got a snowball’s chance of remaining in the country legally. So we ask again, why put that particular photograph in the article?

Anyway, in the ten days since those three articles the paper has been suspiciously quiet on the Calais migrants’ front. Why, you might be asking? Well, as we understand it, at least one complaint has been submitted to the Press Complaints Commission about the very same areas of press coverage that we have been highlighting in this blog. Now this may just be coincidence but the fact is that the Mail has turned its target of xenophobic spleen from the Calais migrants on to gypsies/travellers and bloody foreigners in general.

So we get, ‘Councils spend £250,000 on consultants because they can’t find anywhere to put travellers‘ [03/08]; ‘How gipsies got £5m of Lottery cash to beat planning rules… and fund course on assertiveness training‘ [11/08]; ‘Gypsy convoy invades site… just hours after council evicts travellers following six-year battle costing £400,000‘ [14/08]; and ‘£1m neighbours from hell: Meet the gipsy family terrorising an entire street‘ [15/08], four gypsy-related stories in less than 2 weeks instead (as opposed to three in the whole of July).

Then of course there are the usual items such as ‘Top judge faces sack for speaking out about immigrants abusing benefits system‘ [05/08], about their favourite Judge of the moment Ian ‘Itchy Finger’ Trigger (immigrants are always a good alternative to hoodies and hanging for a judge to publicly pontificate on); more foreigners-are-the-bane-of-our-existence stories like ‘English-speaking pupils are a minority in inner-city London primary schools‘ [12/08] and the usual rampant sensationalism: ‘Illegal immigrant rapes woman twice after escaping from Heathrow cell‘ [08/08]. And last but not least, the inevitable can-you-believe-those-crazy-foreigners stories; ‘Merde! Paris reveals the reason it lost the 2012 Olympics to London… dog poo‘ [12/08] and ‘Muslim woman banned from wearing a ‘burkini’ in a French swimming pool‘ [13/08]. The latter is a classic Daily Mail-style story, as it hits so many of the right buttons: crazy foreigners, Muslims, the French, the nanny state and, on top of all that, the chance to publish 2 pictures of women in swimwear, although I’m sure the average Mail reader would not rate the burkini particularly high in the titillation stakes.

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Mail Watch #4 – Part 1

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 23 September 2009

The Daily Mail’s front page coverage of the “operation to raze the squalid Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle” was quite surprising. OK it started with its usual uniformed sensationalist use of language right from the headline “Riot police storm The Jungle” – anyone who has viewed the extensive film coverage (it was a worldwide PR event after all) could see that the gendarmes did not storm in; they walked in. Even the CRS, who are given to a great deal of sturm und drang, were fairly laid back for them – OK they did rough up activists and migrants alike, taking cheap shots against the Salam volunteers and No Borders activists trying to passively protect the obviously frightened youngsters in the camp, but that is nothing compared to their usual behaviour.

However, the thing that really jumped out of the page at you is the line “By Daily Mail Reporter”. What no Daily Mail reporter on the ground? A quick comparison with coverage in other newspapers clearly showed that large chunks of the text were cut and pasted from the Press Association (PA) news-wire article by Katie Hodge, with Associated Press (AP) pictures.** Now this is a very common occurrence in today’s 24/7 news media where, as Nick Davies in ‘Flat Earth News‘ named it, churnailsm has taken over from good old-fashioned journalism.

So, initially it looked as if the paper that has in the past boasted about its standards and the use of ‘senior and well-respected’ journalist on the ground collecting stories, had in fact not bothered to employ anybody to cover what it had been campaigning almost single-handedly amongst the tabloids, the closure of the ‘Jungle’. That and the usual stupid mistakes and bizarre spin, “Up to 500 officers were at the site – one for each remaining migrant”, implying that there might be up to 500 migrants in the camp when it was plain for anyone to see in the few days leading up to the eviction that there was fewer than 300 migrants present in the ‘Jungle’. Oh, and everyone else seemed to think that there were 600 police there but that is an easy mistake to make, estimating large numbers, as previous wildly oscillating estimates of the ‘Jungle’ inhabitants have shown.

Further inspection of the text and an earlier on-line version of the article (see a copy of the text here) published at 11:34 pm the night before, together with 2 articles [1, 2] in the Telegraph under the by-line Peter Allen, who has tried to cover the Calais story in the past with varying degrees of accuracy, reveal another source for some of the article (see below). In fact whole chunks have been tweaked used in both – lets hope he got paid twice.***

Other quotes from Jessica Nora Shadia of Dunkirk appeared elsewhere in the Guardian. Then that quote and the whole of the following 3 paragraphs appeared on-line at the Express and Channel4 sites, so it is difficult to tell where this came from originally. More wire service text?

As for the ‘real’ Mail text, we have to look no further than the first few paragraphs: “An operation to raze the squalid Calais refugee camp” – pure Mailese; “French riot police said to be armed with flamethrowers, stun guns and tear gas” – the flamethrower idea come from the Telegraph the day before, and yes the CRS are always armed with tear gas and stun guns, so no story there! We’ve covered the ‘500 officers for every ’remaining migrant’, so “many more asylum-seekers…are thought to have escaped the camp before nightfall”, well they didn’t so much escape as simply walk out just as the media were allowed to freely move into the camp. After all, the French authorities wanted as fewer migrants there as possible to make the who PR event run nice and smoothly.

And we go on, “military units are in reserve near the Channel Tunnel entrance in case of disorder”, dramatic but true – Natacha Bouchard for one was no doubt sad that she didn’t get her way and have the army used to destroy the ‘Jungle’; “efforts have so far been hampered by the presence of scores of camera crews and human rights organisation representatives” – not the Mail, we use AP pics on this story. Just what was being hampered by the presence of press and human rights representatives (those pesky leftie do-gooders!)? Certainly not the rounding up of 280 odd migrants by more than twice the number of armed police.

And that’s about it. There rest is lifted from wire service copy and Peter Allen’s ‘play up the Islam and defending the mosque’ angle. So all-in-all a thoroughly disappointing effort from the paper that has spent so much time, effort and newsprint in trying to demonise the Calais migrants. And what are they going to do now once the ‘Jungle’ problem has gone away? Except it hasn’t gone away and there will be lots of opportunity to play the ‘illegal’ immigration and Islamophobia cards in the days to come, as the ‘New squalid migrant camp pops up in Calais hours after the Jungle is razed’ story today proves (we will have an analysis and some other recent mail stories in MailWatch #4 Part 2 tomorrow).

* The original story was titles ‘Next stop UK: As riot police storm The Jungle migrant camp at Calais, a defiant message from the asylum seekers’ but the on-line version has been the subject of heavy and persistent editing, so there is no link to it. Instead the version in question is copied as text below. The same occurred with the Guardian article, also below.

** You certainly wouldn’t blame the Mail photographer who did the ‘Bloody siege of Calais’ story [see], he is definitely a marked man. On that tack, it seems that some journalists will stop at nothing to get their story, even masquerading as No Borders activists in order to be taken into the confidence of Calais migrants. Just a little gripe, but such acts of duplicity have at times undermined the rapport that activists on the ground have put a lot of time and effort in to achieving. So the next time one of you journos doesn’t find themselves greeted with smiles and openness, it’s probably down to one of your ‘trade’ having just undermined the trust that you had spent time building up with us!

*** Especially as he wrote about migrants and left-wing protesters fighting with police [See].

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Mail Watch #4 – Part 2

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 24 September 2009

Yesterday saw the first new MailWatch post in nearly a month and the simple reason for its absence till now has been that the Mail has been laying off the immigration and ‘race’ stories lately. They seem to have been loathe to feature Calais migrants stories as well, which may or may not be linked to a current Press Complaints Commission investigation into their Calais coverage – they even failed to do their worst when provided with the ‘Jungle’ eviction story (see Part 1).

Calais

In fact, the only stories in the past month directly related to Calais have been ‘Border Agency sniffer dog uncovers three Vietnamese immigrants in a lorry heading for Britain‘ [23/08/09]*, rehashed by the Mail’s ubiquitous Paris correspondent Peter Allen as ‘Vietnamese illegal immigrants hidden among speciality food on truck bound for UK‘ the following day.

And that was it more or less until Besson announced what the Mail has been campaigning for for years – ‘ ‘The Jungle’ may be closed by French Immigration Minister within a month’ [04/09/09] – and again the paper wasn’t trumpeting the possibility! Then, as D-Day approached (again, strange that the paper wasn’t gloating with D-Day-style headlines), we had ‘When ‘The Jungle’ is razed, how many migrants will Britain take from Calais this time?‘ [19/09/2009] regarding the suggestion, made by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, that Britain take some of the displaced Calais migrants which, according to the Mail, “raised the prospect of a repeat of the British humiliation when France closed the Red Cross refugee camp at Sangatte seven years ago.”

After ‘D-Day’, we did however see some gloating (tempered with a hefty dollop of cynicism, as it dawned on even this reactionary blow-hard tabloid that the destruction of the ‘Jungle’ was not going to change much), ‘Razed to the ground: Jungle migrant camp emptied after raid by Calais police (but will it stop asylum-seekers flooding into Britain?)‘ [22/09/2009]. This article was itself a rewritten version of ‘Next stop UK: As riot police storm The Jungle migrant camp at Calais, a defiant message from the asylum seekers’ that was discussed at length yesterday and also found favour with a number of fascist websites (Google it ans see!). This was followed up yesterday and today by ‘We’ll STILL reach the UK, insist migrants evicted from Jungle‘ and ‘Pictured: New squalid migrant camp pops up in Calais hours after the Jungle is razed‘ respectively.

Yesterday’s piece contained some priceless lines. For example, “Many of the immigrants, encouraged by a group of anarchists chanting, ‘We will fight, we will fight’, refused to go. Some had to be dragged out kicking and screaming”, clearly a dig at No Borders activists there. This was followed by a bit of Muslim extremism, “The worst trouble took place around the makeshift mosque, which the mainly Afghan Muslim residents of the camp had promised to defend ‘at all costs’. ‘It is the centre of our camp, and leaving it pains us massively,’ said Omar, a 26-year-old originally from Kabul, shortly before he was arrested.” All topped off with this dire warning to its readers: “‘The police can try to stop us as much as they like, but nothing will stop us getting to England.'”

Stout stuff, then throw in a few photographs of violent arrests – sorry, that should be protesters resisting arrest: “One of the migrants is hauled away by French riot police” “Screaming defiance”. Then there’s the photo of 3 activists holding a banner with the words ‘Human Rights Have No Borders’ and the caption “Some of the would-be immigrants protest as the clear-out operation begins”! The usual high standard of journalism there then.

Some of that tosh was contributed by our friend peter Allen again and he struck again today with, ‘Pictured: New squalid migrant camp pops up in Calais hours after the Jungle is razed‘. In this not only does he get to use one of his favourite migrant-related word ‘squalid’ again and again, but he also drops this bombshell: “Just 24 hours after a mile-square stretch of wasteland was cleared of hundreds of mainly Afghan young men, the town’s mayor said she had ‘spotted between fifteen and twenty squats’ nearby”. Except she had said this 6 days ago “Combien de squats avez-vous comptabilisé sur Calais ? « J’en ai repéré entre 15 et 20… » ” in a Nord Littoral interview. So either there are in fact no new squats or this is old news.

Not Calais

One of the Mail’s favourite tricks is placing photos of Calais migrants in stories that ostensibly have nothing to actually do with Calais or the Calais migrants. So, recently we have the same stock photo by Mail staff photographer Jamie Wiseman of Calais migrants sitting on a fence at what looks like the quai Paul Devot eating a Salam-provided meal. The first occurrence is in ‘Britain must take more war refugees as Brussels wants us to open the doors to thousands‘ [03/09/2009], where it bears the caption “Asylum seekers in Calais queue for food handouts distributed by local charity workers”, except they are not in any queue and they already have their food!

The next caption is even more ludicrous. The story was, ‘France dumps controversial plan to DNA test all new arrivals into the country‘ [13/09/09], referring to the news that Besson had announced the scrapping of a bizarre plan to test migrants’ DNA to determine their country of origin “because it was ‘damaging’ his country’s image”.** This article featured the same picture, this time with the caption “Asylum seekers gather at a refugee centre in France.” You can draw your own conclusions on that one. Interestingly the Mail offered Besson a bit of encouragement the next day with, ‘France’s hardline immigration minister Eric Besson calls for ‘debased’ burkha to be banned‘. This is a theme the Mail has featured before, and may well be due to jealousy of the ability of the secular French state to consider banning Islamic dress, but they still manage to defend good-old Anglo-Saxon Christian values with stories like ‘Christian hotel owners face ruin after ‘defending their faith’ in row with a Muslim guest‘ [21/09/2009].

Still on the ‘wrong side’ of the English Channel (and proud of it), other stories that caught our eye over the month were ‘Paris police evict hundreds of Britain-bound migrants from gardens dubbed ‘Little Kabul’‘ [20/08/09] by the Mail’s Paris correspondent, one Peter Allen; along with the non-French ‘Muslim lovers to be caned for trying to have sex in a car‘ [22/09/2009] and ‘Iran bans curves: Police order shop owners to cover mannequins up‘ [23/09/2009] – I don’t know, those crazy sex obsessed Muslims!

Nearer Home

Clearly the story that takes the prize seems to combine all that is Mail journalism
at its very worst, ‘Revealed: The areas of Britain where there are more migrants chasing jobs than locals‘ [21/09/09]. In this we get a ‘those bloody foreigners over here stealing our jobs’ story together with the most stupid use of statistics that you are ever likely to come across, all neatly tied up with a ribbon in the guise of yet another bloody MigrationSquint-and-you-might-just-see-a-reasoned-argument quote in something that claims that “The true extent of the huge influx of foreign workers into Britain is revealed in an investigation by the Daily Mail.” This tawdry piece of an insult to ‘investigative’ journalism has more holes in it than the proverbial string vest and, if you are interested in finding out why, we highly recommend the aptly titled ‘Mail Compares Apples With Oranges Comes Up With Bananas‘***

Of course there has been the Attorney General Patricia Scotland and her Tongan ex-cleaner story, goldmine stuff for the Mail. She’s black, a woman in high office, a Labour appointment and there’s an ‘illegal’ immigrants involved (except she is in fact a legal immigrant who has overstayed her visa, not quiet the same thing), what more could you want? 15 articles and comment pieces since the story broke last week!

We could go further with ‘Feral youths: How a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society‘ [19/09/09] – “Round here, Poles do all of the work” – or ‘Visa sham as just 29 out of 66,000 applicants from Pakistan interviewed despite supposed ‘crackdown’‘ [10/09/09], or maybe ‘Romanian fraudsters use trafficked babies and children for multi-million pound UK benefit scam‘ [23/08/2009] and that good old stand-by ‘Local hero turns villain after she rents out her field to gipsies‘ [24/08/2009]. Then again there are the ‘Overseas student surge hits 110,000: And all but a tenth decide they’ll stay in Britain‘ [25/09/09], ‘The migrant baby boom: Foreign mothers help push Britain’s population past 61m‘ [28/08/2009] and the ‘‘Immigrant baby boom’ to cost taxpayers £1bn in new primary school places‘ [07/09/09] stories. But we wont, too much of this sort of thing tends to leave a rather nasty taste in the mouth.

* NB: on-line version has since been edited.

** Britain has recently announced that it is continuing to go ahead with this form of modern-day Eugenic analysis.

*** No, it’s not what you’re thinking. We hadn’t come across this website until researching a piece on the Mail last month. A case of great minds think alike and fools never differ?

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Mail Watch #5

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 9 October 2009

Why is it that the Daily Mail has a total lack of understanding of migration issues? Their latest migration-related piece – ‘Labour relaxes the rules to let 40,000 asylum seekers stay‘ [09/10/09] – continues the odious career of the paper’s barely comprehensible rants about all things foreign, especially when they are foreigners here in good old Blighty.

The 40,000 figure actually relates to 40,000 files for various types of migrants and visitors who were told by the Home Office prior to 2003 that they no longer had a right to stay in the UK. So that is people on work permits, already granted temporary leave to remain, on student visas and visitor visas who were all subsequently turned down for extensions to their stay. NOT ONE SINGLE ASYLUM SEEKER amongst them.

The details come from a leaked memo, entitled ‘Restricted – Policy. Completion of the legacy exercise’, from Matthew Coats, the head of immigration at the UK Border Agency, to Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister detailing changes in guidelines designed to grant indefinite leave to remain for the 40,000. And the reason why the guidelines were being changed was because the UKBA have no way of telling if any of the 40.000 had remained in the UK, as up until recently no checks were made on who was leaving the country, and would be almost impossible to locate all those who had remained.

Yet one would be hard pressed to work that out from the Mail’s version of events. The reason they give is that “it would be virtually impossible to send many of them back as they were from countries with poor human rights records such as Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iran and China.” i.e. blame it on the Human Rights Act again (though to give them their due, they don’t actually say that this time).

And to top it all, what do we have but yet another photograph of Calais migrants queuing for “food handouts” (not charity from French humanitarian volunteers – ‘bloody spongers’ being the obvious subtext here) illustrating a story about historic migrants from pre-2003!

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Mail Watch #6 – Part 1

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 23 October 2009

We sat down today having promised to write another instalment of MailWatch, but we have been severely waylaid as we have discovered a whole website dedicated to the wonderful world of Mail watching called, yes you’ve guessed it, MailWatch. Of course we never thought our idea for the title was that original, so discovering that the MailWatch team had been posting since July 2004 has given us food for thought and we have decided that we will not duplicate some of their work on migration issues and just link directly to it with possible extra added analysis.

That said, we do cover more of the Mail’s migration stories than the MailWatch site does and here’s one they haven’t yet covered: ‘Vast new illegal migrant camp opens in France as officials admit they have ‘no alternative’‘ [17 October]. This article is of particular interest to us because one of our group actually visited the camp in question back in February this year.

It is in fact a small temporary winter camp (they appear regularly across northern France during the winter months as locals feel it is their humanitarian duty not to let people freeze to death in the local woods and hedgerows) for up to 30 people. Yet our old friend Peter ‘Never Mind The Facts’ Allen claims that “A vast charity camp for illegal migrants heading towards England has opened in northern France.”

He then states: “As fears grew that it will become a magnet for thousands more, officials said they had ‘no alternative’ but to allow it to be put it in place.” Who’s fear the article doesn’t tell us (even though it’s in the headline, so it must be true) and why thousands more will come, when the same camp ran throughout last winter with no more than 30 Eritreans on site,* we are again not told. Maybe the fears are Allen’s himself or Nigel Farage who was wheeled out as (a rather disappointing) rent-a-quote (maybe the Green twins had their mobiles turned off).

As to which officials claim there is ‘no alternative’ the article leaves us none the wiser. Why ‘no alternative’ and not “no alternative”, as in a direct quote? Must be Allen’s interpretation of what the ‘officials’ were saying. Or maybe it’s just his dodgy grasp of French (see the ‘Global Calais Scheme‘ post).

So what is the camp like? It has 2 large sleeping tents and one for cooking, equipped with stoves and storage, all provided by the local Terre d’Errance group. The migrants also have the use of the church hall were there is a laundry and showers. However, Allen makes the camp sound like a three star hotel: “Last night dozens slept in tents equipped with beds and showers. There are also cooking facilities and a clothes store.”

Then, after a bit more padding to turn this non-story into a no-story story, we get the killer trade mark Allen touch – the unattributed quote from a local ‘police spokesman’, this one suggesting that the camp will attract people traffickers. It wonderful what you can do with an unattributed quote here and there.

Allen has of course written about the Steenvoorde camp before, on 1 December 2008 under the byline ‘Mail Foreign Service’ (he is their Paris Correspondent after all) – ‘Increased immigration fears as French charity sets up camp for illegal migrants heading to UK‘ and cobbled together from local press reports. It started off, “A French charity has enraged UK officials by setting up a camp to help illegal migrants bound for the UK.” And apparently it was “designed for the thousands of migrants who regularly make their way to Channel ports in the hope of reaching the UK by ferry or train.” It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.

Which brings us to the latest in the Mail’s very very scary use of statistics (or would that be MigrationBotch’s use of statistic?) to prove that Johnnie foreigner is indeed swamping their ‘green and pleasant land’.

MigrationBotch’s last two press releases have been entitled ‘Official Statistics Published Today Show Immigration Will Add Just Under 7 Million To The UK Population In The Next 25 Years‘ [21 October] and ‘Immigrant Population Has Increased By More Than Two Million In Eight Years – Immigrants have almost doubled under Labour‘ [19 October], and both were based on a Communities and Local Government paper ‘Regional Economic Performance: A migration perspective‘, which the Mail claims was “slipped out without notice last month and only revealed yesterday after academics discovered them and reported them to an immigration think-tank.”

Except the ‘academics’ and the think-tank are one and the same (see the Five Chinese Crackers blog) and we all know who that was! And the Mail and the Express have recycled the same data and effectively the same story each time they have regurgitated the latest MigrationBotch press release. Now we haven’t got enough time to go fully into these ramifications of this today but we will be covering it in the second part of this MailWatch piece. In the meantime we will leave you with some links to the articles, the press releases and a few pointers of what to look out for and give you the chance to draw your own conclusions before we run ours up the flagpole for you to salute.

How Britain’s Leaky Borders Let In 700 Migrants Each Day‘ [Express, 19/10/09]

More than 700 migrants a day have been let in to Britain since Labour came to power‘ [Mail, 19/10/09]

Immigration to drive up Britain’s population to 70million within 20 years‘ [Mail, 21/10/09]

Crowded Britain heading for 70m as migration causes population to rise faster than ever before‘ [Mail, 22/10/09]

Immigration To Push British Population To More Than 70m‘ [Express, 22/10/09]

and the piece de resistance, MigrationBotch’s very own Alan Green (or should that be Alan Green’s very own MigrationBotch’s?) comment piece (the Mail were too lazy to write it themselves so they got him to do it for them):

We must halt this conspiracy of silence over our immigration crisis‘ [Mail, 22/10/09]

A few pointers:

Why do they miss India (the second most populous country with 1,130m people) and Taiwan (22.8m) of the graph in the ‘Crowded Britain’ article?

Why use an arbitrary cut-off point of countries with 10m or more people? (see: Wikipedia’s list of countries by population density and the World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision Population Database for statistics)

Why the magic population figure of 70m? Could it be something to do with the Optimum Population Trust or any one of those other ‘balanced migration’ groups?

Is the Mail comparing apples with oranges again, and coming up with bananas?

See what you think? And we’ll compare notes in MailWatch #6 Part 2 next week.

* The cap of 30 people was agreed between Terre d’Errance, the local mayor and police and the migrants themselves. It was not, to the best of our knowledge, eve broken. The current camp has a limit of 25.

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Mail Watch #6 – Part 2

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 27 October 2009

A very strange Mail article came out on 19 October headlined ‘Recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.3 million foreign-born people in the UK‘. Now at first glance this article appears to be a typical Mail rewrite of a MigrationBotch press release, in this case ‘Immigrant Population Has Increased By More Than Two Million In Eight Years – Immigrants have almost doubled under Labour‘ [19 October]. However, it changes MigrationBotch’s claim that the immigrant population has increased by “nearly 700 a day” since Labour came to power mysteriously into “more than 700 migrants a day”.

There might be some logic in that, if, as MigrationBotch claim, the foreign immigrant population has increased by less than 700 (see below), the total number including UK nationals returning to these shore will certainly take the total above 700. In fact, more than 87,000 migrants enter the UK every day according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) Travel Trends 2008, most of them only for a few days. But clearly (if anything is ever clear in a Mail article on migration) that is not what the Mail really meant, is it?

The MigrationBotch link is further reinforced by the “total to around three million since 1997″ claim, which MigrationBotch derives from the data in Table 2.1 of the Communities and Local Government paper ‘Regional Economic Performance: A migration perspective‘ (REP) and their own’estimate of “net foreign immigration (sic) in the period 1997 – 2000″, which they claim was 0.7 million, “bringing the total under Labour to some 3 million.” Having examined the data in Table 7.3 of Population Trends 126 of the ONS, the 0.7 isn’t in fact much of an overshoot (by MigrationBotch’s usual standards anyway) of the actual figure of 0.62 million.

Then things starts to get really strange. “In the last eight years, Whitehall has estimated that figures have reached 2.3million”, which is followed later in the article by, “Estimates of the level of immigration were produced to ‘fill the gap’ left by the Government’s unreliable statistics of the past dozen years.” Again this must refer to Table 2.1 of the REP, except 2001 to 2008 is only 7 years and this isn’t a Whitehall estimate. Instead it comes from two academics employed by Oxford Economics, a commercial arm of Oxford University, using “best available estimates from sample surveys between October 2007 and September 2008″, because the Census of Population is only up dated every 10 years and therefore the relevant data is not otherwise available (which they would have known if they had bothered to read the ‘Note on data sources’).

Next we have the statement: “Out of a population of 60.4 million, there is now a total of 6.6 million immigrants in the UK, according to the Daily Express.” So, in fact this article is not taken from the MigrationBotch press release, it is lifted from the Express article ‘How Britain’s Leaky Borders Let In 700 Migrants Each Day‘ [19 October]. Must have accidentally deleted that press release then! But no, because we are then treated to the revelation that, “The findings were slipped out without notice last month and only revealed yesterday after academics discovered them and reported them to an immigration think-tank.”

This clearly refers to the line in the previous day’s MigrationBotch press release: “The report, by Oxford Economics, was quietly slipped out on the website of the Department for Communities and Local Government last month with no attention drawn to it.” So the fact that neither Oxford Economics nor the Department for Communities and Local Government chose to press release the publication to the Mail or MigrationBotch means that it was “quietly slipped out”. Also, it is more than a little disingenuous of the Mail to claim that “academics discovered them and reported them to an immigration think-tank”, when they are one and the same i.e. MigrationBotch (or maybe that should be Alan Green, self-taught migration ‘academic’ and one-man ‘think-tank’?).**

The article then goes on to recycle some statistics from the 2-page Executive Summary, before returning to recycling MigrationBotch’s (for that read Alan Green) self-congratulatory text from the press release claiming vindication for his ‘predictions’ (reading the runes?) back in 2002. Also included is the following Green quote: “It is ironic that this is the week in which the BNP will be represented on Question Time, and is an appalling indictment of the way the present Government has handled this sensitive issue.”

How shameless can you get? This story only exists because MigrationBotch put out the press release. They chose the date to coincide with the Griffin’s appearance on Question Time to milk as much publicity for themselves on the back of media hype around the BNP. If it is an appalling indictment of the way anyone has handled this sensitive issue, it is an appalling indictment of MigrationBotch’s crass opportunism.

The article was eventually rounded off (apart from a half-hearted nod to Phil Woolas) with: “Current projections say numbers in Britain, currently around 61million, will reach 70million by 2029 thanks to continued immigration and high birthrates among migrants”, in anticipation of the ONS figures for the latest UK population projections out on 21 October. Except the Mail was wrong when it chose the lower value for MigrationBotch’s projection of “70 million in the next 20-25 years”.

Tomorrow in Part 3 we will examine the Mail’s coverage [1, 2] of those UK population projects and Alan Green’s opinion piece.

* Did anyone notice the inability of MigrationBotch to quote a simple sentence from the report? Recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.3 million foreign-born people in the UK suddenly becomes ‘recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.2 million foreign born people in the UK’.

** In fact the Mail spills the beans later on in the article: “The Migrationwatch think-tank, which drew attention to the Oxford Economics report…”.

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Mail Watch #6 – Part 3

Originally posted on the No Borders Brighton blog, 28 October 2009

So finally we come to the Mail’s response to the long anticipated (at least by them) figures for the projected population growth in the UK for the next 25 years, fertile ground to find new immigration-related sticks to beat the government with.* Over two days, and three article (one an opinion piece by MigrationBotch), they attempt to scare the pants of their faithful readers with tales of impending population doom, all focusing on the mysterious 70 million mark [Fx: doomy organ chords].

The only problem is is the fact that these population projections come out every two years and we more or less already knew what they were going to say, as Tim Finch pointed out in the Guardian. We also knew that the Mail were going to milk it for all it was worth. After all, they have done it before. [See: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]** Some of are particular favourites are:

Rising immigration could double population of Britain by 2081

England on the verge of becoming ‘the most crowded country in Europe’

1million more Britons in just three years as immigration fuels biggest population boom for a century

Migrants will help to swell population of England by two London-sized cities within 50 years

and, wait for it:

It’s official – England is the MOST crowded country in Europe, thanks to immigration

The significance of the latter will become more obvious later. But to get back to the task in hand.

21 October

First up, on the day the figure came out, we had yet another in the Mail’s long line of ‘UK population to be more than 70 million by…’ scare stories, ‘Immigration to drive up Britain’s population to 70million within 20 years‘ (by Daily Mail Reporter!). This one however was merely a swift raid on the government’s newly laid projections (with an emphasis on the word projections) to keep the public’s appetite whetted until the real meat and veg could be served up the next day, as well as allowing the Mail’s reporters enough time to find said juicy morsels (in the absence of a really juicy MigrationBotch press release to plagiarise).

The first thing that leaps out of the page at you in this article is, that unless you already knew that these were: “2008-based national population projections…based on the estimated population at the middle of 2008 and a set of demographic trend-based assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration. The projections are not forecasts and do not attempt to predict the impact that future government policies, changing economic circumstances or other factors might have on demographic behaviour.”, to quote the ‘Statistical Bulletin: National population projections, 2008-based‘ (NPP08), you would be forgiven for thinking that this was some central government 5-Year Plan (or 25-year in this case) for UK population growth, not a set of predictions (maybe they already had an inkling of the so-called ‘secret plan for multi-cultural Britain‘?).

So in the Mail we have:

“Immigration will account for”; “around 180,000 immigrants will arrive”; “the surge in immigration will mean”; “every year 425,000 more people will be living in the UK”; and “across the UK the total will hit 71.6 million in 2033″, all “according to official figures released today.”

And it is not until we get half way through the article and we come across some quotes from Guy Goodwin of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Phil Woolas, that we are actually told that these are in fact projections.***

Having said that MigrationBotch’s press release was rather paltry, the Mail does manage to wring 6 sentences of directly lifted quotes (2/3rds of the text) from said ‘document’. All pretty staid on Green’s part, reeling out the old “entire population of London in the next 25 years” sound bite yet again. We do however get a juicy bit of ranting from UKIP’s Farage:

“The ONS’s figures are a damning indictment of decades of failed immigration policies.” – His definition of “failed immigration policies” are policies that let anyone in the country. UKIP want “a five-year moratorium on immigration (except for people with parents or grandparents born in the UK)”.

“The suggested rises will have a devastating impact both on our infrastructure, and also our culture.” Whose culture is this Nige? (It’s impossible to tell from your website as all the links are broken. Had to sack you webmaster through lack of funds?)
“Britain urgently needs proper borders and immigration checks, both from within and without the EU. Until we control our own borders, we will be able to do nothing to halt these rises. Any party claiming that they can control immigration without first taking back control of our borders is trying to hoodwink the electorate.” Last time we looked the UK was surrounded by water, which makes for a pretty good border, and it was UK Border Agency staff running the passport checks to get into the country.

22 October

Things have moved on slightly by now and we have a named author of this article, one Steve Doughty, who wrote ‘More than 700 migrants a day have been let in to Britain since Labour came to power‘ and the wonderful ‘Cut population by a third, say crowded Britons‘ – “One in four Britons would like to see the population reduced by up to a third to ease overcrowding” from an Optimum Population Trust survey. He also seems to have grasped the idea that these are projections not plans but his grasp of statistics is somewhat ropey.

For a start Doughty clearly knows nothing about population dynamics, otherwise he would not have come out with, “Crowded Britain heading for 70m as migration causes population to rise faster than ever before” and “Britain’s population is rising at a speed [we think he means rate] unprecedented in history, official figures revealed yesterday”. The fact is that natural populations tend to have a period of exponential growth when their environmental resources are putting no limit on that growth. It’s basic ‘A-Level’ science and is reflected in the overall shape of the Mail’s graph. And if you wish to have a stable human population you have to have the nuclear family with 2.4 children (to allow for pre-reproductive age mortality rates) with no immigration or emigration – sound familiar? All other scenarios lead to population change.****

The most ludicrous claim he make however, leaving aside the ‘graph’ (more on that later), is:

“England is already the third-most-crowded major country in the world and the most crowded country in Europe except for the island of Malta, according to British and UN figures.” Where to start?

1. England is not a “major country” on anyone’s political spectrum (except of course the fruit-loop Right). England is part of an international political entity called the UK. The UK can, just about, still be classed as a “major country”.

2. England is not the “third-most-crowded major country in the world”.

3. Nor is it the “most crowded country in Europe except for the island of Malta”, “according to British and UN” or anybodies figures.

A quick look at the graph will tell you that the “figures” that this claim is based upon are for Population and Population Density for 2004. Take a look at the Wikipedia version of the United Nations World Population Prospects (2004 revision). Now there you will see that the UK is listed as the 34th most densely populated country or the 52nd if you include dependencies. In Europe it is 7th after Monaco, the Vatican City, Malta, San Marino, the Netherlands and Belgium or 10th if you include Gibraltar, Jersey and Guernsey.

By the same criteria, and using a population figure for England for 2004 from the National Population Projections 2004-based (Series PP2 No 25), we get a population of 50,094,000 and a population density of 246 per sq. km. This would only take England up the chart one place (above Belgium at 342 per sq. km and below the Netherlands at 395, not 393 as it gives for Holland (sic) on the graph).

So how does he come by these strange figure and the graph? Well, first he uses the current “estimated population at the middle of 2008″ [NPP08] against figures for 2004. Bit of a cheat really. Then he arbitrarily uses a cut-off of countries with a population of more than 10 million. And to top it all he misses out Taiwan, the second most densely populated country by his own criteria of 22.9 million people at 636 per sq. km, together with India, the second most populus country on Earth with 1,131 million people, admittedly with a population density of only 344 per sq. km.

Then he includes the South East of England for comparison even though it has only 8.2 million at 2008 figures. Now we cannot be bothered to go look up the correct 2004 figures for the South East. Instead we have decided to play him at his game and take arbitrary parts of countries and compare them (for 2004 of course).

USA – 302.7 million at 31 individuals per sq. km

California – 35.9 million / 84 per sq. km

New York City – 8 million / 10,252 per sq. km

Or Guangdong, the most populous area of mainland China (and with a GDP about a fifth of the UK) – 110 million at 618 individuals per sq. km.

You see how easy it is to have fun with figures and how easy it is manipulate them. The rest of the article kind of pales in comparison to all that, but we”ll persevere.

New Labour needless to say comes in for a bit of stick:

“Despite claims by Labour ministers that population growth is slowing because immigration is on a downward trend, the ONS said that for the foreseeable future the population will grow by 180,000… Two years ago the state statisticians put the immigration gain at 190,000 a year.” So it is in fact slowing, even if it is not by as much as the Mail would hope.

This is followed by a bit of ‘stating the blindingly obvious’ from Peter Madden, mouthpiece for Forum for the Future “an environmental group launched by one-time Government adviser Sir Jonathon Porritt” (they do like their titles):

“Population growth will put greater pressure on our public services and increase competition for housing. Protecting our environment and meeting climate change targets will become even harder.” And not to forget “social cohesion” which “will suffer…unless it is handled properly.”

This is followed by some Woolas waffle, just to keep things a little ‘balanced’, and on to:

“Labour MP Frank Field and Tory Nicholas Soames, leaders of the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration, said: ‘We are on course for an unsustainable and unacceptable rise in population. If politicians want to rebuild trust and counter extremism, they must stop ignoring the public’s deep concern about this.” Can’t you just picture them like Tweedledum and Tweedledee saying that in unison.

Whilst you are at it you should check out the Balanced Migration group’s press release on this subject (which incidentally shows that it is in fact a Soames quote). If you think that the Mail’s graph is dodgy, check out theirs! They take a start year for their graph of 1971, which shows an almost flat period of growth of more than a decade, which suddenly starts to go up and up, carrying their projection beyond 2081. Talk about selective use, or as we say in our neck of the wood, manipulation of statistics.

The article however finishes of with the really scary stuff. The thing that these flat-earthers continue to ignore – the demographic time bomb.

“It estimated that there will be 3.3million over-85s by 2033 compared with 1.3million last year.

Despite the rise in the state pension age, which will be equal for men and women at 66 by 2033, numbers of pensioners will go up sharply. There will be 15.6million by the mid-2030s, the ONS said, compared with 11.8 million now.

The increase will mean that everybody of working age will have more pensioners to support.

The ratio of working age people to pensioners, currently 3.2 workers for each pensioner, will drop to 2.8 workers for each pensioner in 2033.

But without the increase in the age at which people are expected to retire, there would have been only 2.2 workers available to support each pensioner.”

And who is it that currently wipes the arses and cares for the majority of the geriatrics via home help and in retirement homes up and down the country. Not anybody working for the Daily Mail and probably very few of its reader either. It is those migrants that the Little Englanders and new wave eugenicists in the burgeoning balanced migration industry (a bit like the holocaust deniers, but in reverse).

Alan Green (Green, as in bilious)

Last, and by far least, we come to MigrationBotch’s contribution to the ‘debate’ in the Mail,***** ‘We must halt this conspiracy of silence over our immigration crisis‘. What is this “conspiracy of silence among the main political parties on this vitally important subject cannot be allowed to continue”? It seems to us that immigration is all some people ever talk about, Alan. Certainly you never seem to let up, trotting out the tired hackneyed phrases:

“Labour’s policy of open borders” Which borders are those? You must fly off to exotic locations all the time Alan? Mustique, Barbados, Florida. Surely even your wealth and renown doesn’t open all the border controls you come across? When was the last time you slummed it and took a Calais-Dover ferry?

“Put simply, the increase in immigrants we face is the equivalent of the entire population of London or seven cities the size of Birmingham.” Seven cities the size of Birmingham! How can you manage to sleep when your worst fear is coming at you seven-fold?

“London and the South East, which is already the most congested part of England.” That’s probably been the case since the last Ice Age, so nothing new there.

“And remember that England itself is now the most crowded country in Europe.” Ooops! You forgot to say “except Malta” there. See the discussion above for the truth about this lie.

“Trevor Phillips, head of the Human Rights and Equality Commission, has been warning for years that we are ‘sleepwalking into segregation’. He has said we are a society which is becoming more divided by race and religion, almost without noticing it.” Except Phillips’ concern in his ‘sleepwalking’ speech wasn’t immigration, but the failure of immigrant and host communities to adapt and adjust to each other, and the ghettoisation that resulted from this.

Next up we have one of Green’s killer non-fact facts:

“In central London primary schools, only 20 per cent of pupils are now classified as ‘white British’.” Where does he get these from? There is absolutely no reference to this ‘fact’ on the MigrationBotch website (except for the reposting of the Mail article) and we can find no reference to it on the net. The closest we can come to it is are some statistics released by the State of Equality in London Report 2008, which found that 33.4% of Inner London came from the “white ethnic background … (includes white British, white Irish, white Traveller and white other)”. This seems to be the most obvious ‘official’ source for such data. Maybe he has better access to the data or maybe he just picked it up from the BNP website, after all they use so much of his stuff in their campaigns.

Our real favourite however is: “The results of recent opinion polls are startling. Eighty-four per cent are worried about our population hitting 70million in 20 years or so, including two thirds of our ethnic population.” This refers to a YouGov poll done for MigrationBotch back in July. The results actually show that 45% are very worried by the population rising to around 70 million in 2028, with 36% slightly worried. And 45% + 36% = 81% in our book. 1% of people polled were delighted, 14% wouldn’t mind and 4% didn’t know. Maybe some of the don’t knows really secretly deep down inside are actually so worried that they can’t actually make up their minds and so were added to the ‘worried’ total by Green?

“Seventy-one per cent are worried about the impact of immigration, including 45 per cent of the ethnic communities.” We are unable to find the exact origins of these 2 pieces of ‘data’ (one of Green’s problems is that he tends not to reference his ‘facts’ – they are quoted once or twice, and like any good rumour, each time it is passed on it subtly changes) but it probably refer to a ‘major document’ in the ‘balanced migration debate’ called ‘Balanced Migration: A new approach to controlling immigration‘, the founding statement of Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s organisation (see above).

On page 20 of that document we find:

“47% of Asians and 45% of black people believe there is too much immigration and too many migrants in the UK.”, with reference to a footnote that states, “The figure is nearly 70% for the population as a whole.”

This comes from a document called ‘Our Shared Future‘ (page 31) and it was 68% for the population as a whole.

Again we say you can do anything with polls, especially when people answer questions they don’t really understand. For example, the Optimum Population Trust’s opinion poll conducted to coincide with World Population Day earlier this year found that 70% of the 2131 adults polled thought that the UK’s population was too high. The most popular choice for the optimum level, selected by 24 per cent of respondents, was 40-50 million, except for the 40% who hadn’t got a clue. Six per cent actually thought that a population of less than 30 million, half of what we have now, would be the best!

Green rounds of his diatribe with, what is for him, a measured few sentences:

“The reality is that there is no single measure that will do the trick. What is needed is a commitment from the main parties to take all possible measures to keep the population well below 70million.”

And then he has to go and spoil it:

“We cannot allow the population to be determined by hundreds of pages of immigration regulations relating to the minutiae of individual cases, as at present. We need a considered policy with a defined purpose, around which regulatory measures can be built.” i.e. close to zero immigration. Drop the portcullis, pull up the drawbridge, post armed guards. We need a Fortress UK policy, which is no policy at all, unless you are an ostrich.

What about the demographic time bomb, as outlined in the ONS study and that creeps in at the end of the Mail’s ‘Crowded Britain‘ article with little comment? It’s all right for Green, he is independently wealthy and, even though he is 74, he wont have to rely on the sort social services regime with no workers that would be inevitable if he and the OPT had their way. Maybe we could try compulsory euthanasia? Get rid of some of the burgeoning geriatric population that we couldn’t afford to keep. Compulsory sterilisation for all those ‘foreigners’ who are ‘breeding like flies’? What’s your answer Mr Green?

* And anyone else who either thinks that migration is a good thing or is even neutral on the subject – after all, if you are not with us you are against us.

** Notice how many articles are penned by Steve Doughty and our old friend James Slack (by name, slack by nature).

*** In a ‘blink and you miss it moment’ the article does in fact refer to “the figures predicted” and “the prediction” in close conjunction, but this appears to be in relation to these “official figures” and “the immigrant baby boom”.

**** See: Factors Influencing Population Growth part way down the page.

***** The Guardian also deigned to give Green space for a rant (‘The real threat of immigration‘) after years of ranting about how the ‘left’ and the Guardian in particular were ignoring him.

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