Caught in the act (again): tabloids recycle false statistics to make immigration sound more dramatic.
There are people out there who still refuse to accept the poisonous role played by Britain’s tabloids when it comes to race and immigration.
Many blogs have repeatedly pointed at the most blatant examples of inflammatory red top churnalism. When a concoction of outright falsehoods and half-baked myths is regurgitated and interiorised by millions of readers everyday, it’s not surprising that social cohesion is going out of the window and right-wing extremism is on the rise.
Today comes another spectacular example. The Daily Mail features a long piece by Harriet Sargeant titled ‘Feral youths: How a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society‘.
Now, this is a peculiar one because, although the whole piece is peppered with pathetic photos of models posing as ‘hoodies’, Sargeant’s article starts with laudable intent, seeking to explain a massively serious issue – notably the world of youth crime, teenage gangs, school drop-outs and so forth.
And yet, two paragraphs in, Harriet Sargeant gets mired in the usual, tiresome, scattergun Daily Mail-speak, a ‘Best Of’ of “welfare dependency”, “benefits”, “single mothers” and “Labour’s schools”.
You’d have thought, however, that at least on the subject of “teenage crime”, the Daily Mail would give immigration a rest. Not quite. Even that is the foreigners’ fault.
According to Sargeant, “the arrival of large numbers of skilled immigrants” is what “sidelined disadvantaged working class boys”. Quoting a 22-year-old man called Dave, she even writes that “[T]he local job agencies warned him he had no chance because he was English”.
Then the ‘churno’ cuts to the quick: “According to the [now defunct] Statistics Commission, of the 1.7 million new jobs created since 1997, a whopping 81 per cent have gone to foreign workers“.
Now, no doubt most readers would find such figures shocking. Many would start paying heed to rumours that “Britain is being swamped” or that “we need our country back”. How many, however, are going to check whether Sargeant’s “whopping 81 per cent” is real?
If they did, they’d discover that the claim is false and would probably conclude that this type of journalism is a disgrace. Because Sargeant may be free to believe whatever she wants. What is vile, however, is how she feeds wrong statistics to the public in order to back up her views. But either Sargeant can’t read and interpret figures, or she deliberately misrepresented them.
At the end of 2007 the Statistics Commission did indeed publish a paper called “Foreign workers in the UK- briefing notes“.
It showed that 2.1m jobs were created between 1997 and 2007. Of those, “about 1.0 million has been accounted for by UK nationals and about 1.1 million has been accounted for by foreign nationals”. And while my maths skills may have gone to crap, that is nowhere near the 81 per cent Sargeant was writing about. The percentage of jobs that went to foreign nationals is between 52 and 53 per cent.
Not only that. The same document (page 17) states that (in 2007), the employment rate of UK nationals was “higher than it was in 1997, an increase from 73.2% to 74.8%”, which means that more UK nationals were able to find jobs in the period mentioned by Sargeant.
So where does her “81 per cent come from”? Why did she pick that particular number?
Scouring through the same document, it turns out that the only “81 per cent” that can be spotted is the “net increase” of “foreign workers in employment”. From 7.5% in 1997, up to 12.0% in 2007, it amounts to an increase of “81 per cent” (see page 6 and page 9).
A few questions are in order:
1) is Sargeant thick?
2) did she pick the biggest number that was placed next to the word “foreign nationals” to add extra drama and effect?
3) do you call that type of conduct ignorant, dishonest or both?
This post originally appeared on the brilliant Hagley Road to Ladywood