Posted by 5cc
February 25th, 2010
There has been a bit of brouhaha in the Mail over the last couple of weeks about immigration and the government’s motives for shifting to a policy of ‘managed migration’ rather than one of restricting it back in 2000/2001.
The story started with ‘Labour threw open doors to mass migration in secret plot to remake a multicultural UK‘, moved through ‘STEPHEN GLOVER: Using immigration to turn Britain into a nation of Labour voters is so shameful‘ and ‘Secret Labour plan to increase immigration for social reasons dismissed public’s opposition as ‘racist‘, to the latest: ‘MELANIE PHILLIPS: At last we know the truth: Labour despises anyone who loves Britain, its values and its history‘.
But what are these new revelations about immigration policy, where do they come from, and do they stand up when they’re examined?
What are the revelations?
Last October, Andrew Neather wrote the pro-immigration ‘Don’t listen to the whingers – London needs immigrants‘, saying that there was an undercurrent in Labour thinking that said immigration was a way to increase multiculturalism and rub the right’s nose in diversity. The tabloids seized on this as evidence of a secret plot to increase multiculturalism, and Neather wrote a clarification ‘How I became the story and why the Right is wrong‘ saying:
Somehow this [his previous article] has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a “plot” to make Britain multicultural.
There was no plot.
These new articles suggest that there is new evidence that reveals there really was a plot to do just that. Some go further and suggest that the real reason was to deliberately import Labour voters. Later articles claim the government ‘branded us all racists’.
Where do they come from?
The first of these articles in the Mail is from James Slack; ‘How Labour threw open doors to mass migration in a secret plot to remake a multicultural UK‘. Appended to this article is ‘Paying the price for a decade of deception‘ by Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch, who claims it is from:
…a Government policy document which he [Andrew Neather] had helped to write in 2000.
All these articles are about the same document, an early draft that includes information that doesn’t appear in the final version.
Does this all stand up when the evidence is examined?
Firstly, the claims about the document are not right. Andrew Neather did not help to write this document. The final published ‘Migration: an economic and social analysis‘ includes a list of authors. Andrew Neather is not one of them. He never even claimed to be one, only saying in both his articles that he’d written a speech based on it. Neather was far more removed from the process than Andrew Green suggests, which makes it more likely that he was mistaken than it would be if he was one of the authors.
Nor is the document a ‘Government policy document’ as Andrew Green should know, because even in the early draft version he has, a paragraph says:
This study is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute a statement of Government policy.
Both claims Andrew Green makes about the document have been beefed up. This document has been made to seem more significant than it was and Andrew Neather has been made to look as though he was more closely involved than he was.
So we’re starting from a much weaker base than we’re being led to believe, and the existence of a secret plot looks even less likely. Especially when the man who kicked of the whole fuss said:
There was no plot.
What are the edits to this document, and do they refer to increasing multiculturalism or importing Labour voters?
The earlier articles, from ‘Revealed, the REAL reason…’ through to ‘Using immigration to turn Britain into a nation of Labour voters…’ are based purely on the Executive Summary of the document, and not the full report itself. What has been removed are vague references to ’social objectives’. Nothing about Multiculturalism or importing votes.
Since we only have the Executive Summary, we’re not necessarily looking at these things being removed from the main document. There is still a full section about the social outcomes of migration in the document, so social outcomes of migration feature quite prominently.
Here’s what the Mail says some of the edits from the Executive Summary are, followed by quotes from the final published version of the main document to show whether or not there have been huge cuts to hide things. From the Mail’s edit no 2 (which is not actually paragraph 2 of the summary):
But this should not be viewed as a negative – to the extent that migration is driven by market forces, it is likely to be economically beneficial.
From the full document:
Economic migration is normally a voluntary market transaction between a willing buyer (whoever is willing to employ the migrant) and a willing seller (the migrant), and is hence likely to be both economically efficient and beneficial to both parties. Indeed, the basic economic theory of migration is very similar to that of trade; and, like trade, migration generally is expected to yield welfare gains.
Not that different, huh? You might even summarise this passage in the same way as the draft Summary.
From edit 3:
…argues that it is clearly correct that the Government has both economic and social objectives for migration policy.
From the main document in the chapter ‘Objectives of current policy’:
It is important to integrate policies on migration with other Government policies, in particular on the labour market and on social exclusion, as well as wider economic and social policies.
And from the pull-out box ‘High level Government objectives’:
The Government’s overall objectives are:
- to increase sustainable growth (per capita) and employment
- to promote fairness and opportunity
- to deliver modern and efficient public services.
Doesn’t number 2 look like a social objective?
How about this, from the same box:
DfEE: to give everyone a chance, through education, training and work, to realise their full potential and thus build an inclusive and fair society and a competitive economy
HO: to build a safe, just and tolerant society, in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public is maintained
DCMS: to improve the quality of life for all through sporting and cultural activities, and to strengthen the creative industries
From edit 4:
The more general social impact of migration is very difficult to assess. Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions. These in turn feed into wider economic benefits.
From the full document:
Not enough is known about migrants’ social outcomes…
Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions (e.g. in the arts,literature, science and sport); these in turn feed back into wider economic benefits.
Why, that would appear to be almost exactly the same as the summary.
From edit 5:
In practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion
From the full document:
In part, social exclusion can be the result of entry and settlement controls designed to deter entry.
From edit 6:
It is clear that migration policy has both social and economic impacts and should be designed to contribute to the government’s overall objectives on both counts. The current position is a considerable advance on the previously existing situation, when the aim of immigration policy was, or appeared to be, to reduce primary immigration to the ‘irreducible minimum’ – an objective with no economic or social justification.
First, I should say I couldn’t find this quote in the draft included on the MigrationWatch site. Either James Slack has a different draft, or he’s ‘paraphrased’.
From the full document:
Post-entry migration policy has a potentially powerful role in influencing migrants’ economic and social outcomes and their economic and social impacts on natives. Thus there appears considerable scope for more substantive and co-ordinated post-entry policies designed to ensure that migration does indeed achieve the Government’s economic and social objectives.
Not that different, huh? Even less different from the version MigrationWatch includes. And look, it includes the phrase ’social objectives’.
We’re clearly not talking about a huge slash and burn here. We’re talking about tweaks to the Executive Summary, and a document going through the motions of the editing process. The claim that the government cynically surpressed the real reasons for immigration by cutting the offending pieces from a document do not stand up.
In most cases, something almost identical to what was cut from the summary is included in the main document.
The idea that Labour were deliberately trying to increase multiculturalism, or rub anyone’s nose in diversity, or import voters is simply not suppoerted by the evidence Andrew Green has given.
What about the later articles?
‘Secret Labour plan to increase immigration for social reasons dismissed public’s opposition as ‘racist’‘ gets off to a bad start because we now know the evidence doesn’t support the idea of a secret Labour plan. The published document, which only presented evidence for discussion anyway, still included references to social outcomes of migration, referenced social objectives and includes almost everything cut from the summary in the main document in one form or another anyway.
Still, it has this to say:
Fuller details released yesterday showed that Tony Blair’s ministers opened the doors to mass migration in knowledge of public opposition and with the view that those who disagreed with them were racists.
Labour’s accusation that opponents of immigration are racist has been dropped over the last two years as it has become clear that former Labour voters in party heartlands have been turning to the far right British National Party.
It showed that ministers were advised that only the ill-educated and those who had never met a migrant were opposed to immigration.
This seems to be a reference to an earlier draft of the full document, but we’re not given the full quote to compare the claim to.
Full quotes did appear in an earlier version of the story, but they’ve been cut. Given that the paper has been claiming that cuts from a draft document are evidence of dishonesty, this is pretty ironic.
TabloidWatch examined the earlier version and has the direct quotes, so we can compare:
Recent research shows that anti-immigrant sentiment is closely correlated with racism rather than economic motives,
This is clearly not the same as saying that anyone who disagreed with the government or opposed immigration were racist. It was saying that some recent research showed that it was more often than not.
But this was cut from the version of the document that ministers were given for discussion. So the claim that ministers ‘opened the doors with the view that those who disagreed’ is not supported by this evidence.
As for the ‘ill-educated and never met a migrant’:
‘Education and people’s personal exposure to migrants make them less likely to be anti-migrant.
‘The most negative attitudes are found among those who have relatively little direct contact with migrants, but see them as a threat.’
Again, the quote says nothing about people who have never met a migrant. It doesn’t really say that only the ill-educated are anti-immigration either. From the context, it looks as though the document was talking of education about migrants. It would be better if we could see it in context.
Again, this was cut from the final document, so ministers were not advised this by this document. The evidence does not support the claim that ‘ministers were advised’, because they weren’t by the document this was cut from.
It’s odd that the paper should cut direct quotes and only include inaccurate representations of what the draft document said. It’s also odd that nobody has made the newer release of the full document available to look at to see how explosive it is too. I can’t help but wonder if that’s because it would make the new representations of it look less than accurate, in the same way the Draft Executive Summary makes earlier claims look very bad indeed.
Is there proof that Labour despises anyone who loves Britain?
Umm, no. *Ahem.*
Storm in a teacup
This whole storm has been built out of something really quite minor, and the evidence we’ve been given supports none of the claims that have been made about it.
We have a discussion document rather than a policy document, we have someone making claims who had seen a copy and wrote a speech based on it rather than one of the writers, and we have some alleged suppressing of things that were actually published and just not summarised. None of the things that were cut mention the things that have been claimed, and you’d have to make a great leap of faith, imagining what some vague language might mean in order to make the claims fit.
Where there were cuts, there are simpler reasons why they may have happened in a document outlining evidence for discussion like this one. Maybe the evidence wasn’t strong enough to be included. Maybe the ’social objectives’ were not high enough a priority. Maybe the civil servants who wrote it felt the economic arguments shouldn’t be overshadowed. Perhaps there was even the idea that the tabloids would zero in on social objectives rather than the more important economic ones and misrepresent what the dosument said. Who knows? That most of the material cut from the Executive Summary actually appears in one form or another in the main document makes a secret plot seem even less likely.
If you want evidence that immigration policy was based on a secret plot to increase multiculturalism or import voters, this isn’t it.
Categories: Immigration |