The spat over the Welsh NHS gets ugly

Jeremy Hunt has been accused of telling a ’tissue of lies’ over the health service in Wales

NHSjThe virtual war now waging between the UK and Welsh governments over the NHS has intensified following the release of a letter sent from Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford to Jeremy Hunt, accusing the Conservatives of telling a “tissue of lies” over the health service in Wales.

With the Daily Mail continuing its dirty tricks campaign designed to undermine Labour ahead of next year’s General Election, the latest spat focusses on whether or not the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development should be allowed to undertake a study to compare the performance of health services across the four nations of the UK. Read More »

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MigrationWatch: a short history of spin, shoddy statistics and downright dishonesty

MigrationWatch don’t ‘talk truth to power’. They tell it exactly what it wants to hear: that it’s all the fault of the immigrants

immigration ncrWith it being reported yesterday that Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch is to receive a peerage, commentators have been queuing up to praise the man who was ‘brave enough to talk about immigration’ etc etc.

It is, apparently, now a sign of unmitigated courage to talk about something the tabloids never shut up about.

So is MigrationWatch – and by extension Sir Andrew – really a brave vessel for truth telling?

Not really.

Here at Left Foot Forward we’ve taken a brief look back at some of the spin, bad statistics and downright dishonesty that MigrationWatch have deployed over the yeas.

The Migrationwatch report that was ‘simply wrong’ and a ‘stark misapprehension’

‘Immigrants cost Britain £3,000 a year each’, boomed the Daily Telegraph back in March.

“Immigrants have cost the taxpayer more than £22 million a day since the mid-1990s, totting up a bill of more than £140 billion,” it added.

The ‘findings’, if you could call them that, were from a report by MigrationWatch. The report claimed that a paper by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), which appeared to show that immigration was a net benefit to the UK, actually showed that immigration had cost the British economy hundreds of billions of pounds over 20 years.

The Telegraph had predictably regurgitated a MigrationWatch press release for a story.

The problem was that the MigrationWatch report was based on a ‘stark misapprehension’ and was ‘simply wrong’.

Not my words, but those of one of the authors of the original study on which MigrationWatch had based its findings.

Not understanding the term ‘net contribution’

In 2010, MigrationWatch published a report which argued that the UK’s education budget was being stretched beyond capacity due to migration.

The problem was that MigrationWatch ignored the contribution migrants were making to the public purse through things like income tax. As we noted at the time, the evidence suggests that migrants contribute more in taxes than they consume in public benefits or services.

More recently, a study by University College London found that migrants who have come to the UK since the year 2000 have made a ‘substantial’ contribution to public finances.

Using shoddy data to push an anti-immigrant narrative

In a 2011 report entitled ‘Mass Immigration: Labour’s enduring legacy to Britain’ (and laughably billed as a ‘forensic’ analysis of immigration trends’), MigrationWatch got confused over some fairly simple datasets.

As Ruth Grove-White of the Migrants’ Rights Network pointed out on Left Foot Forward, a graph produced by MigrationWatch, which claimed to represent the ‘Sources of Net Migration’ between 1997 and 2009, appeared to attribute all net migration for this period to non-EU sources. Meanwhile the accompanying text claimed that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of foreign immigrants derived from non-EU sources.

And yet according to the ONS, while in 2009 non-British citizens accounted for 83 per cent of all long-term immigrants to the UK, a third of these migrants were from EU countries.

MigrationWatch also claimed in the same paper that:

“…illegal immigrants could number almost one million.”

This figure was not borne out by independent research from the London School of Economics, which put the figure at approximately 625,000 – too high certainly, but significantly fewer than the MigrationWatch estimate.

Falsely accusing migrants of driving down pay and taking our benefits

In 2013, MigrationWatch published a paper calling on the government to remove the ‘pull’ that attracts immigrants to Britain.

By ‘pull’ they were referring to the UK’s minimum wage and benefits apparently “worth up to five times more than those in Romania and Bulgaria”.

However as was pointed out at the time by Thomas Southern, migrants do not come to the UK for the benefits – nor are they ‘stealing our jobs’. As Southern put it:

“Out of the 2.2 million EU nationals in the UK in 2010, 4.21 per cent claimed working benefits. By contrast, 14.32 per cent of British nationals within the age range were doing the same.”

And to quote economist and head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, Jonathan Portes, on wages, EU migrants “don’t appear to have a negative impact on the employment prospects of natives – several different studies have failed to show any link”:

“However, there is some evidence that migration, while having some positive impact on wages overall, might have a small negative impact for the low-paid. But these impacts appear quite small – other factors, like general labour market developments, or the minimum wage, appear to be considerably more important.”


So much for MigrationWatch ‘talking truth to power’.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , | 7 Responses

The sell off of our greatest national asset is the big general election issue

A week can be a long time in politics.

NHS protestFor the NHS, last week was a boost with people prepared to take action- both civil and industrial to say to the government our NHS is not for sale.

No one can claim that there is political apathy amongst the public over the NHS and where best interests of staff and patients lie.

The most recent ICM poll puts the NHS at the top of the agenda for concerned voters. Read More »

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The government faces difficult questions on Trident after the election

There are options for the next government beyond full replacement or scrapping the system

Trident ncrTensions with Russia and the need to assure NATO allies on or near its border have dashed any possible hopes for short-term progress in negotiated nuclear disarmament.

Casual observers may conclude that this closes the debate Britain would have had over Trident renewal in 2016 when the vote over constructing new follow-on ballistic missile submarines was expected in Parliament.

The received wisdom that Labour can only lose on this issue (whatever its position) is understandable, given past experience, but maintaining some policy flexibility in position up to and beyond 2016 would be sensible, for the leadership, for the party and for the country. There could yet be severe pressures to reconsider. Read More »

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UKIP policies: dangerous, costly and yes, racist

We don’t need to go trawling through old manifestos and historic statements; it’s right there on their website

UKIP rosetteThe establishment’s UKIP strategy is failing, and failing badly.

Gaffe after gaffe have done nothing to dampen the party’s appeal, and the latest musical travesty won’t either.

You can expect to hear the phrase ‘more Tory than the Tories’ more and more over the next few months, and this has some value for Labour as a UKIP strategy.

Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , | 68 Responses

NHS in Wales – what the public thinks

As the Welsh government issues a rebuff of the Daily Mail’s new campaign to undermine Labour’s credentials on the health service, Left Foot Forward looks at what the public in Wales thinks of the health service

Wales flag ncrjAccording to polling undertaken by ICM for the BBC and published in June to mark 15 years of devolution in Wales, just 23 per cent of respondents felt that having a National Assembly for Wales had led to an improvement in the NHS.

This compared to 37 per cent who said that devolution had made the health service worse and 34 per cent who believed it had made no difference. Read More »

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Five reasons we need a stronger recall bill

The ‘power of recall’ doesn’t really give constituents the right to recall their MP

Commons ncrMPs will today debate whether voters should be able to deselect them using the ‘power of recall’ if they are found guilty of serious wrongdoing.

The plan being put to a vote will mean that an MP could be unseated if 10 per cent of voters sign a petition – but only after the MP in question had been sent to jail or given a 21-day Commons ban.

Commons bans are given out by the Commons Standards Committee, which is mostly made up of MPs.

In other words, an MP would have to have committed an offence and other MPs would have to agree that an offence had taken place before constituents were given any right to recall that MP.

This really doesn’t give constituents the right to recall their MP. Read More »

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The left should be honest about CAGE and Moazzam Begg


Parts of the liberal left should be honest with the British people about their alliance with CAGE and Moazzam Begg. Now more than ever we must turn to Meredith Tax’s book ‘Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights’ for reference and moral clarity

It is entirely correct that the rule of law should be upheld for Moazzam Begg. It is entirely correct that the ethical abomination of Guantanamo Bay be campaigned against. The left should oppose and be sceptical about further misguided laws to combat extremism, as suggested by Theresa May.

But sections of the left must also be honest about their support for groups like CAGE and all other Salafi/Islamist/Jihadi activists. They should tell the British people that support for them is on the same basis as supporting the rights of, for example, nationalist fascists, and on the basis of the principle that our laws apply even to extremists and fundamentalists. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , | 37 Responses

Integration should be the focus of immigration policy, not posturing

Poverty and job insecurity are more strongly associated with support for UKIP than migration

Migration uk-JPEGThe media has made much of an immigration stand-off between David Cameron and retiring EU Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso.

With an eye on the Rochester and Strood bye-election, Cameron has put forward some vague-sounding suggestions to limit EU migration.

Barroso has responded by arguing that attempts to limit the free movement of people within the EU would also certainly be illegal.

UKIP must be delighted, as the argument backs their position that only a British exit from the EU can control migration. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Responses

It isn’t just child poverty that limits social mobility; inequality does too

The side of social mobility that no politician will talk about: making rich-but-dim children downwardly mobile

PovertyjThe government will fail to meet its child poverty reduction targets by 2020, according to a new report from Alan Milburn’s social mobility and child poverty commission.

According to the report, “absolute child poverty increased by 300,000 between 2010-11 and 2012-13″ and “independent experts expect child poverty to increase significantly over the next few years”.

This mirrors earlier findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which forecast last year that coalition cuts and employment trends would mean that, by 2020, a quarter of all children (3.4 million) will be living in poverty, reversing reductions in child poverty that took place under Labour between 2000 and 2010. Read More »

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