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Friday, September 28, 2007 

Even more immigrants are coming!

As Five Chinese Crackers has noted, there's been something of an upsurge again recently in the (scare) stories about immigration, with the Mail alone publishing an astonishing 24 in just 7 days. While he noted that there's a chance of an election and that the Labour conference has been on, with various members of not so new Labour literally falling over themselves to suck up to the Daily Mail, it might well be because next month sees the publishing of the first official comprehensive analysis of the impact of immigration. Prior to that though, the Office of National Statistics has helpfully given the tabloids something additional to shriek about:

Immigrants will swell the British population by almost two million in the next decade, according to official predictions.

Whitehall now believes the record immigration levels of the past few years are likely to continue.

The projection drew an immediate admission from the Government that it has "worries" over migration.

The new estimate by the Office for National Statistics - that numbers will grow by 190,000 a year - is 30 per cent higher than previous figures.

The ONS went back to the drawing board
(PDF) after it factored in the much higher rates of migration in 2004 and 2005 (although it also states that better ways of counting may have had a bigger impact), upping its estimate from earlier in the year from 145,000 to 190,000. This itself makes a nonsense of the Mail's claim on its front page that "the government has massively underestimated" immigration, as the ONS had actually underestimated the estimate, guesstimate, projection, prediction, whatever you want to call it, based on the current net figures, immigrants less emigrants. As any fule will know, you trust such estimates with extreme caution, especially this government's. It's quite possible, because this is a projection all the way up to 2031, which is not just a very, very long time in politics, but also in world events, that these figures will end up way out of whack, and not necessarily as an underestimate, but an overestimate. Due to the figures being based on 2004 and 2005, which were the first major years' of eastern European migration, they may well distort a pattern which could already be on the turn. Both of the sets of figures released so far this year suggest that migration from Poland, etc has reached its likely peak, and while the tabloids love to quote the 700,000 figure who have come so far, we simply don't know how many of those have since returned home: the vast majority state on their applications that they intend to stay less than a year, meaning we see them enter but we don't see them leave.

Andrew Green has as usual been sticking his nose in:

Migrationwatch chief Sir Andrew Green said yesterday: "This new assumption at last recognises that the present very high levels of immigration are likely to continue unless the Government moves from rhetoric to really effective measures."

He said the figures mean the population will have increased by 8.7million between 2004 and 2031, of which 7.2million will be due to immigration, including the children of migrants.

What Green has done here is... well, I don't know what he's done here, because none of the calculations I've done (and I'll admit maths isn't my strong point) involving the updated figures have managed to add up to 7.2 million. He seems to have taken the estimate that the net migration will total 145,000 each year (from 2004), then multiplied that by the new figure included for the long-term average number of children per woman, which is 1.84. 145,000 x 27 = 3,915,000 x 1.84 = 7,203,600. I can't tell if this is his actual working, even though it seems to be, as it isn't even explained properly on the Migration Watch website. If this is his calculation, it's completely up the spout, as it's firstly using the outdated figures, then treating every single net migrant as a woman, who's going to have the exactly average number of children. This seems to have been where the Express has got its front page splash that "Immigration will add 7 million to our population", which of course is completely out of any context whatsoever, but makes for a nice little frightener. I may quite easily have got the figures completely wrong, so if you see any obvious mistakes, let me know. I've emailed Migration Watch and asked for Green's working in any case.

Perhaps more interesting though is that the Mail is showing signs of being wooed, not just by the new Dear Leader, but also by Liam Byrne's explanation that this may well require action:

In a sign that the open-door era of Mr Blair is over, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "This shows what could happen unless we take action now.

"Frankly it underlines the need for swift and sweeping changes to the immigration system in the next 12 months."

He admitted: "Migration is bringing new wealth but also new worries to Britain."

The statement contrasted sharply with the past attitude of Labour ministers, who have stressed the benefits of immigration and cast doubt on the motives of those who warned it was too high.

Home Office officials said the action promised by Mr Byrne refers to policies already announced.

These include the points-based immigration system for migrants from outside the EU beginning next year.

Christ, if Brown's managed to sate even the Daily Mail, it really must be nearing election time.

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