One report on immigration, six different news stories

November 7, 2014

This week saw the publication of research on the economic impact of immigration to the UK. The breaking media reports made me think of six authors in search of a headline

The research was conducted by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London (UCL) and published by the Royal Economic Society in the Economic Journal.

In its own summary of the work, UCL headlined it as

Positive economic impact of UK immigration from the European Union: new evidence , adding that the report showed that European immigrants to the UK have paid more in taxes than they received in benefits, helping to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers and contributing to the financing of public services.

A political football match starts

The report signaled the kick off at a political football match as national and international media joined the game. The headlines show how a complex report can be reported selectively.

Sky News

The Sky headline selects the main point indicated in the UCL article, that EU migrants pay in more than they take out of the economy

The Guardian

The Guardian touches on the political point that the UK ‘gains £20 billion’ from EU migrants

The BBC

The BBC suggests that New EU migrants add £5bn to UK

Business Week

Business Week notes that EU migrants ‘ add billions to UK public finances

The Telegraph and Daily Mail

The Telegraph and Daily Mail have taken a different approach.

The Telegraph notes that ‘Immigration from outside Europe cost £120 billion’; The Mail that Non-EU migrants are costing £120 billion.

Making sense of the headlines

You have to look at the report to decide which headlines summarize what the authors believe to be the key finding of their report, and which headlines are, shall we say, more selective.


David Cameron, Immigration and Elephant Dust

November 27, 2013

The Prime Minister announces further restrictions to repel a wave of immigrants. I am reminded of the old story of elephant dust

This week [Nov 2013] the debate over immigration to the UK continues apace. The Prime Minister vigorously engages with the problem of an unmanageable number of immigrants anticipated as Romanian and Bulgarian citizens receive rights as EU citizens to relocate.

Anti-immigration sentiment

The Mail captures anti-immigrant sentiment shortly before the PM’s announcement:

A huge majority of [UK} voters want David Cameron to defy the EU and maintain controls on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants. In an explosive Daily Mail survey, eight out of ten said they did not want citizens of the two countries to be handed free access to UK jobs from January 1.

Ministers warn Britain will be taken to court if it ignores the Brussels edict to let the migrants in. But the threat of big fines from the European Court of Justice was brushed off by almost two thirds of the public.

‘Do something about it’

Mr Cameron announces further restrictions on entry requirements and access to social services. The issue has been a major political point made by Nigel Farage on behalf of his UKIP party. There have been calls to ‘Do something about it’ and ‘Show firm leadership’ of David Cameron from his own supporters.

The elephant dust story

Stay with me while I introduce the elephant dust. An old joke actually helped me work my way through this issue. The story takes place on a train in those long-gone days of private compartments. A traveller gets on, and notices that the only other occupant of the compartment is behaving strangely. From time to time, he takes out a little silver box and sprinkles something around the carriage.

“What are you doing?” he asks his fellow traveller.

“I’m sprinkling this special dust. It’s to keep the elephants away” the first traveller tells him.

“But the nearest elephant is miles away”

The man with the dust smiles knowingly: “You see! Elephant dust works really well, doesn’t it?”

Statistics

Mr Farage has been warning of millions of new immigrants. In contrast, the Guardian notes that “the number of EU migrants claiming job seekers allowance in February 2013 was estimated at 60 100, according to government statistics.”


Getting to Norway

December 17, 2012

Oslo City Hall Pipervika ViewThe award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was made in Norway to the institution known as the European Union. The ironies were not lost on Norwegians who repeatedly reject membership of the EU

by Tudor Rickards

The Independent has been one of the few newspapers in the UK supportive of the EU’s vision [if not of all its practices]. However, its view of the Nobel Peace prize award [Monday 10th December 2012] was distinctly on the chilly side. I have made some abbreviations to the following which I hope captures the sense of the original:

Broad smiles bedecked the faces of European Council President, Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz as they took their seats along with the Nobel Committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, on the podium. Twice [in 1972 and 1994] the country rejected referendums to join the EU hooley. And has Norway been thus left in the economic cold? Has it hell.

The EU chiefs may be in town for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, but Norway nonetheless regards it with the sort of suspicion usually reserved for chaps flogging phials of snake-oil from a tatty suitcase. Thanks to oodles of natural resources – petrol, gas and minerals, plus a national mindset which essentially votes into the power the most frugal party that promises to spend the least amount of money – Norway is loaded.

So, given the ongoing knife-fights in Brussels over how to deal with the savage recession which lies like an iron blanket over most (if not all) of the 27 member countries, it’s no wonder that Norwegians want no truck with the EU – although, thanks to various economic agreements, the country enjoys quite a few of its single market trade perks.

Moreover, there are many folks outside Norway who are still scratching their heads over the decision to award the peace prize to the EU. Mr Barroso acknowledged that the current turmoil showed the union was “not fully equipped to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. We do not have all the instruments for a true and genuine economic union … so we need to complete our economic and monetary union”.

A few hours later, a few hundred people gathered in the bitter cold under a banner which read, ‘No Peace Prize For Our Time’, to make a torchlight procession past the hotel where the EU officials were staying. Among them was Oslo woman Elsa Ender, who is one of a group called Grandmothers for Peace.

“We do not think the EU are worthy winners,” she explained. “The Nobel Prize is supposed to be given to those who work for disarmament, but the EU are warmongers”.