Media Watch: Mail repeats nasty ‘migrant babies’ claim in scare story

Recycling of junk data from Migration Watch betrays a nasty attitude to children of immigrants


The migrant babies are coming. In fact, they’re already here. And there are more on the way. Pretty soon you won’t be able to move without tripping over the offspring of a person born abroad.

This nightmare vision of alien babies on the prowl is sure to strike fear in the hearts of men. But don’t panic! The Tory press is here to expose the truth.

‘Too many babies born to migrants – minister’, yelled the front page of the Times this morning. The Daily Mail went with: ‘Too many babies born to migrant mums, says peer’, while the Daily Express apparently felt an all lower-case headline failed to capture the horror of the news: ‘Foreign mothers having TOO MANY babies in Britain, minister warns’.

So, what’s actually happened? Well, a lifetime member of the House of Lords, Lord Andrew Green of Deddington, who is also chairman of the think tank Migration Watch, asked Lord Michael Bates, a Tory under-secretary at the Home Office, about the ‘impact’ of immigration in the UK.

Here’s his written question:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest assessment of the impact of international migration on the population of the United Kingdom, taking into account the children of immigrants already in the United Kingdom.”

That last part is key. Lord Bates replied that Office for National Statistics data for 2013 found 7.8million people in the UK were born in another country, and  “births in the UK to non-UK born mothers accounted for 25 per cent of all live births. That is why we need to reduce immigration.”

The first thing to notice, which the papers leave out, is that Lord Bates went on to praise Migration Watch, saying it was “widely regarded as a balanced think tank that makes a positive contribution to the debate on immigration in this country.” (It isn’t.)

So why is the Times running a front page story on a question from Migration Watch and an answer from one of its fansThe ONS data cited has been available since August last year! Not exactly ‘news’…

At least the Times and the Mail stories said Lord Green was chairman of Migration Watch. The Express left out any mention of either Lord Green or his think tank..

This issue of ‘migrant’ children has come up before. In November, the Daily Express ran a scare story warning of millions of ‘hidden migrants’ living in Britain, based on research by Migration Watch. The think tank argued people born in the UK who have lived here all their lives should be counted as immigrants if one of their parents was born abroad.

Not surprisingly, this method greatly increases the number of ‘immigrants’ living in the UK, allowing Migration Watch to claim immigration is responsible for 84 per cent of population growth in the UK between 2001 and 2012.

As Sunder Katwala, director of think tank British Futures, said:

Migrants are people born abroad who come to this country. Winston Churchill, Prince Charles, Sajid Javid, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg all had a foreign-born parent. So do the children of Nigel Farage.

“Any proposal that they should all be reclassified as immigrants by the ONS is daft. Since the children of migrants aren’t immigrants, it would distort the immigration statistics to regard them as such.”

Still, this nonsensical and nasty claim was repeated in the Mail‘s coverage of Lord Bates’s comments. It said:

“Last year, a report by Migrationwatch said immigration could be responsible for as much as 84 per cent of the surge in Britain’s population this century.

“The study claimed the true impact of immigration has been ‘substantially understated’ because the Office for National Statistics did not count 1.3million children born to foreign parents as migrants.”

The story also notes, regarding Lord Bates’s answers:

“It is understood to be the first time a government minister has directly suggested a need to reduce the number of babies being born to immigrants.

Now, as you can see, Lord Bates suggested no such thing. He merely spoke in vague terms about ‘reducing immigration’ and preventing abuse of the country’s ‘openness’. The least you can say about this creepy suggestion – made by the Mail, not Lord Bates – is that it’s of a piece with their recycling of junk data from Migration Watch.

It seems for some in the press, the big issues in the run-up to this general election are not the economy, jobs, low pay, or the future of the NHS. No! What we should really be worried about is how many babies people are having.

Or make that, how many babies certain people are having.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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11 Responses to “Media Watch: Mail repeats nasty ‘migrant babies’ claim in scare story”

  1. Barber O'Riley

    Well said Adam. But – strictly entre nous – I suspect Lords Green and Bates are thinking of those nasty, nasty *dark skinned* immigrants and not nice white half-Swiss people like me.

  2. Cole

    I love the idea that the idiots at MigrationWatch are trying to redefine what a migrant is – so that Winston Curchill is classified as one…

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    He also proposed a Union with France. That one’s good for some red-faced spluttering.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Certainly, but some of the regular ned’s round here don’t bother making any distinction. Same on the ground, sadly.

  5. damon

    Each side is as bad as the other here. There is a point to be made about foreign born mothers.
    I have one myself btw. It increases the population exponentially for one.
    Then depending where the mothers are from, it can cause difference of outcomes for those families and those who live around them.
    So for example, a lot of new Indian subcontinent brides, and it can slow integration greatly, add to poverty and lack of social cohesion. See Tower Hamlets as an example, where the minority Bangladeshi community – even though making up only about a third of the borough, were able to get an independent mayor of their choice elected, by working as a self interested community within the wider community.
    Some of the poorest boroughs in the UK are those that have the highest diversity and this figure of foreign born mothers will be surely higher in those.
    You could go into this in a lot of detail I’m sure.
    But I won’t bother because it would only be trolled by some twerp who wrecks any attempt at debate on this website.

  6. Guest

    Oh yes, everyone’s as bad as your hate spewer.

    It’s evil that people are allowed to cross the border, as you hare on your own family, and show your complete lack of grasp of math. And of course, it allows those evil people with different coloured skins in. Then it “slows” your ability to rip people off.

    See Tower Hamlets as an example of what happens when your right make people band together against you in a tight-nit community. Only your people are allowed to do that – as you once more justify your attack on the Other by using the poverty your bigotry and hate of the Other are a factor in.

    You can go on about your hate in much more detail.
    But you “won’t” because a Jew dares talk. That you are not unopposed in your constant string of far right postings, straight from Stormfront is intolerable to you, so you’ll lash out. As usual.

  7. damon

    Its funny you make yourself to be the champion of the underdog, and yet you brush off any word of sympathy for maimed and bereaved Palestinians right now.
    The kids who are having to come to terms with living without limbs and terrible injuries and burns. And those who have lost family members and seen their homes destroyed.
    You just call this (very coldly) Israel defending itself.
    What about defending the lives of those equally innocent victims of rotten terrorists and bad politics?

  8. Guest

    I’m not “brushing off” anything – I am in fully sympathy with the Palestinians who your beloved Hamas has maimed and bereaved, etc.

    You demand that only Jews die, that your beloved terrorists go unharmed. You question there the right of Jews to defend themselves, rotten man, with your bad politics.

    You’ve offered not sympathy but dead Jews.

  9. damon

    You’re a pretty rotten troll Leon.

  10. Guest

    Oh, the truth is “rotten” when a Jew delivers it, Lord Blagger. I see.

    Hamas are terrorists, get over it.

  11. V for vendetta

    Migration watch are a complete joke i mean imagine taking pro immigration calculations ,and recalculating the fiscal cost of eea and non eea migrants,
    Eea migrants on the whole made a small contribution overall
    Non eea migrants made a negative impact this was due to the fact they are a huge burden on public services and the previous calculations made assumed that migrants use public services the same amount as british born residents, who dont need an interpreter every 5 mins
    The truth is migration works when mexicans look after children of working americans for less than the cost of child care, this means mum and dad go back to work with reduced child care bills as an e.g
    Also highly skilled workers are a huge boon for any country
    What we dont need is low paid workers who never go home and take the jobs of toothless yobs in the edl bnp etc
    Thats when you start to see problems marches etc as no british toothless yob is going to reduce a migrants bills in their own country by babysitting or offering other services that improve the economy
    The truth is it always will remain one in one out unless new jobs are created. With out this you are flooding an already flooded market all it takes is one downturn and there goes britain then were really fcked and no left foot forward will save you

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