I’m not in the habit of complaining to the BBC, but I followed advice from Migration Watch this afternoon in response to coverage of their economic briefing paper ‘Impact of Immigration on GDP per head’. I’d prepared myself for a challenging read and was disappointed to discover that the paper is little more than a thousand words built on small, carefully revised, extracts from much larger, genuine studies that contradict Migration Watch’s controversial views.
It’s a little worrying that Aunty Beeb makes it so very, very easy for dodgy pressure groups to get publicity. Migration Watch’s website gives the impression that it came to the view that immigration is a problem, not after thinking, but after reading some opinion polls. If Migration Watch’s effort was, let’s say, a student essay it would surely be sent back unmarked and with ‘see me!’ scrawled over the top… but the BBC has given the impression that this is a valuable contribution to the immigration debate.
Just as importantly, the authors of the original research should have been invited to comment on the way in which Migration Watch revised their findings. An opportunity should have been provided for them to explain why they who had compiled the original data had reached such radically different conclusions.
Nevertheless, Sir Andrew Green, who chairs Migration Watch, must be gutted following the failure of his own research team to conclude that immigration is a bad thing. He went into denial, discarding his own briefing paper and the ‘independent think tank’ pretence to tell the BBC: ‘…we are against the huge numbers we are now faced with… there are also costs… and we think that the present mass immigration is simply out of hand.’
But Sir Andrew Green is not the only one not to have bothered reading the short paper. Migration Watch claims its headline figure, that migration benefits each of us by four pence per week, is based on government statistics. Yet shadow home secretary David Davis ignored that to put out a more standard Tory message: ‘The figures in this report contrast sharply with what the government claim…’