Migration Watch UK is a shabby pressure group masquerading as a think tank. The group’s neutral-sounding name masks its real concern with immigration. The group’s founder, Sir Andrew Green – a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, quoted at BBC News Online – isn’t trying very hard:
“You get on the Tube and you can barely move. London is stuffed with people. Under the present regime the numbers are going to keep going up and up and up.”
Migration Watch UK’s web site is clearer still. I can find no attempt to measure outward movements and no useful attempt to quantify the effects of migration – economic or social – beyond the repeated assertion that immigrants are less economically active and worse educated than natives. There’s no context at all. No data on birth rates or long range population forecasts, no links to external population authorities – only several pages of wickedly spun ‘data’ that would be unusable anywhere outside of a public bar and the much-publicised calculation that two million immigrants will arrive in the UK per decade from now on. To arrive at this number, Migration Watch UK’s crack statisticians took the home office’s annual numbers and multiplied by ten, making no subtraction for the falling birth rate in the UK or allowing for any trend in the data at all.
More depressing, in many ways, are the shallow and defensive counter arguments of the refugee and asylum seeker groups. They’re reduced to detailed arguments on speed of decisions, enforcement policy and dispersion – they’ve surrendered the principle entirely to the Daily Mail et al. It’s politically impossible to defend immigration to the UK right now. No mainstream group feels able to advance a pro-immigration line, or even a pro-asylum line, or a pro-refugee line. Only the free traders can comfortably propose opening the borders. Immigration will presumably remain a dirty word until the UK and European populations start to fall visibly, as they surely will. What we need is an enlightened combination of pragmatism and principle in support of immigration – before it’s too late.
I blogged this issue before in August, September and November.