UKIP's embattled leader uses the papers' distortion of the bank chief's views on immigration
On Friday MediaWatch reported on a misleading story in the Telegraph and elsewhere which selectively quoted Bank of England governor Mark Carney on the impact of immigration on UK wage growth.
Today this distortion, which misrepresented Carney’s remarks, has been picked up by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who cited them in an interview with…the Telegraph.
From today’s story:
But a defiant Mr Farage told The Daily Telegraph: “I will continue to lead Ukip as I have, broadening policies.
“They don’t want the party to attract opprobrium but if you take on the political class on tough issues you attract opprobrium.
“When I said large scale open door immigration was depressing wages I was told it was a dreadful thing to say and I was scapegoating migrants. Now Mark Carney agrees with me.“
The original story was plastered on the front of the Daily Mail and claimed that Mr Carney had blamed immigration for low wage growth.
In fact, Carney had attached some remarks to a BoE report in which he named several factors – older people working longer, people working more hours, general population growth – along with immigration. The press however decided to zoom in on only the last of these.
When Carney was asked point blank the next morning whether wage growth was driven down by foreign labour, he rejected the idea, adding that immigration would actually boost productivity.
But of course, it’s too late. A dodgy story is slapped on the front pages and repeated by a reactionary politician looking for a handhold to save his job, and it becomes as good as true.
(It’s worth noting that Carney also called Europe – UKIP’s raison d’etre – ‘the largest investor in the United Kingdom’.)
This is a good example of how dishonest reporting can influence politics, evidence be damned, creating an echo chamber of half-truths that drives progressive politics off the ‘agenda’.
Meanwhile, the Daily Express continues to act like an arm of UKIP’s press team, with its front page story ‘UKIP: party war is over’ claiming Farage and MP Douglas Carswell are now the best of friends:
“The Daily Express understands that the pair will hold a meeting within the next two weeks to put the matter to rest and together move the party forward.”
This sugary coverage obviously has nothing to do with Express proprietor Richard Desmond filling UKIP’s coffers with a whopping £1 million donation before the general election.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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