Wednesday, October 24, 2007 

Scum-watch: More page 3 idol and hysteria over projections.

One of the few things I forgot to mention in yesterday's meandering post about the return of the Scum's depressing, soft-pornographic, vile page 3 idol competition (nudity) is that as with all the other little boy wank mags that encourage their readers to send in photographs of themselves or their girlfriends, there are little to no safeguards involved in determining the actual age of those who send in the semi-naked images. The Press Complaints Commission recently found that FHM had published an image of a 14-year-old girl topless, sent in by someone other than herself. Despite the Scum's righteous anger against the hidden scourge of paedophilia, it failed to report the ruling, probably because it is leaving itself wide open to the same thing happening to it. The only two criteria for submitting your image in to the Scum's compo are that you're over 18 and haven't had your breasts enhanced by plastic. It really would be a tragedy of the Scum were to fall victim to history repeating, wouldn't it?

Elsewhere in today's Scum, it comments on the Office for National Statistics' projection that by 2016 the population of the UK will have increased to 65 million and by 2031 to 71 million, mainly due to the effects of immigration:

FIVE million more people will be crammed into Britain in less than TEN years, official figures showed last night.

The UK’s population will hit a staggering 65million by 2016. And the explosion will be driven by immigrants.

The growth will be the equivalent of half the population of Greater London.

The Government’s own prediction shows our overcrowded island swelling by at least 2.1million immigrants.

Within the first four sentences the article has abandoned any pretense of attempting to approach what are projections based on the current data available in a calm manner. Our island is "overcrowded" and the new arrivals will be "crammed" in. It gets even more alarmist:

It could mean London ending up having Third World-style shanty towns springing up in the shadows of the City’s gleaming skyscrapers.

Where do you go from such obviously offensive, insensitive and ridiculous claims? To contradicting the report on immigration from last week that showed that on the whole, the public services have been coping admirably with the rise in immigration from eastern Europe:

Britain’s NHS and education systems are already under huge pressure.

The words "prediction" and "projection" only feature twice in the entire report, the latter only in relation to Liam Byrne's comments. Nowhere is it made clear that this entire report could turn out to be complete hogwash: it's an extrapolation of what the population will be if the exact same level of immigration continues over the coming decades. The figure of 190,000 comes from the ONS' corrected figure (PDF) of the level of immigration in 2004 and 2005, when the numbers of those coming from Poland etc were at their height. The last two years, especially the figures from so far this year, suggest that the levels have already peaked. The political and economic factors that have led to so many coming to the UK also may have already started to turn: the defeat of Poland's Law and Justice party in the election on Sunday, widely loathed by the young Poles who disproportionately make up the numbers that have came here over the last couple of years, might help to signal a return.

The ONS' figures are really only any help as a guide to what might happen, and judging by the government's reaction, crackdowns on immigration are only likely to heighten thanks to the current turning of opinion against those whom other reports have already made clear have helped enormously with our continuing economic growth. It's quite true that we can't just constantly mention the economic argument when defending the current levels of immigration; while the reports have mostly showed that cohesion has not been affected, such a continued rise in immigration certainly does risk a rise both in frustration and tension between the communities. The answer though is not to play the fear and anxiety card, as the tabloids continuously have, or to pretend that there is nothing to worry about, but to set out the reasons why too harsh a response to the current levels of migration will if anything only bring even worse problems, both economically and socially.

The Scum's leader column is slightly calmer, but only just. Quoting from it is pretty pointless, as the only thing worth responding to is it's argument that the government are doing nothing to prepare for the consequences, which is absurd, as the response of Liam Byrne has already showed. It too only notes that the ONS' figures are a "forecast" once, before going on to treat its predictions as gospel. After years of fanning the flames of fear of outsiders and in some cases preaching open prejudice, it's ever so slightly rich for the Sun now to be so concerned about social cohesion. If it really was, it would be calm instead of the diametric opposite. Its constant hysterical stance only does damage to its at times more than legitimate arguments.

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