Top 5 problems with the Sun’s ‘1 million migrants’ story

Are 1 million migrants really 'heading this way'?


The front page of today’s Sun booms: ‘1M MIGRANTS HEADING THIS WAY’

Sun 23 9 15

Is this true? And if so, what does this mean in context?

Here are the top five problems with this misleading story:

1. The story is about Europe as a whole, not just Britain.

Why say ‘this way’ instead of ‘to Europe’? A casual reader might get the wrong end of the stick – and be more likely to buy the newspaper. (Even the Express avoided this level of sensationalism.)

2. This 1 million figure is a projection for the whole of 2015, based on the number of people who have entered Europe so far this year.

Here’s the source in context, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report:

“Until the end of August, the European Border Agency FRONTEX counted more than 500,000 illegal border crossings, nearly double the 280,000 recorded for the whole of 2014.

Europe will probably record more than one million asylum applications in 2015. Up to 450,000 of these are expected to obtain a status of humanitarian migrant and eventually settle.”

As you may have noticed, this means…

3. This projection is for asylum seekers, not for ‘migrants’. 

This elision is so commonly pointed out now it’s almost a cliche. But anyone who thought the Sun’s coverage of the death of Aylan Kurdi signalled a shift on this point were fooling themselves. For the right-wing press, as we said at the time, nothing has really changed.

4. Less than half of these people are expected to stay in Europe. 

As the same passage shows, ‘up to 450,000’ will likely receive asylum. That’s in a continent of 740 million people.

By contrast, countries in the developing word currently have a million or so people in their countries alone. Turkey has around 2 million, while a quarter of the population of Lebanon is now from Syria.

It’s also worth noting that asylum claims in the UK are barely affected by this movement. Frontex stats show a mere 2 percent rise from April to June against the first three months of 2015. That’s around 7,000 people.

5. These numbers are not a surprise. 

Germany alone is expecting 800,000 people this year. The total number for Europe was obviously going to be higher than this. But again, the population of Europe is 740 million.

If 1 million do come to Europe this year, it will make up 0.13 percent of Europe’s current population.

Yet again, the Sun is giving its readers a false picture of reality.


About that front page: Arsene Wenger was born in Strasbourg, Alsace, making him… a ‘migrant’.


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

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14 Responses to “Top 5 problems with the Sun’s ‘1 million migrants’ story”

  1. NHSGP

    So you have to add on migrants to asylum seekers.

    Why complain when the Sun takes an EU centric view?

  2. Selohesra

    The old crowd funding going a bit slowly – you need to get a rich backer like Ashcroft – I expect he is looking for some new friends now

  3. Brynski

    If this immigration problem is an international problem. Then where are the USA, African countries and the rest of the world hiding ?

  4. damon

    I heard this blog’s founder (James Bloodworth) on the radio this morning talking about refugees in the Balkans. Asked about the presence of people from Pakistan amongst them, he replied that because of unrest and fighting in Pakistan, those too should be seen as legitimate refugees needing shelter in Europe.
    I would presume he would put all Nigerians in a similar category because of Boko Haram.
    Pakistanis who lived in areas where there was conflict could of course move to somewhere else in Pakistan, as could Nigerians move to Lagos or some other non effected region.

    Anyway, talking about this is pointless. There are just different sides to these arguments and you take the one that’s closest to yourself I suppose.

  5. jj

    So roughly 1 million will indeed ‘come this way’, in other words, to Europe.

    Isn’t it the fact that The Sun makes headlines like this the sole reason why Adam even has a job? Most of his articles moan about The Sun’s headlines, when in fact almost all red tops use sensational headlines to capture our attention. “This 1 million figure is a projection for the whole of 2015, based on the number of people who have entered Europe so far this
    year’… doesn’t sound like a great headline!

  6. jj

    According to some it is a ‘European problem’, when in fact it is mainly a middles eastern problem, with almost all the Arab states below Syria not taking any refugees whatsoever.

  7. slamdac

    The trouble for the left is that Labour and the left are so discredited when it comes to immigration that no one is listening to you. We were told by labour that only 10,000 eastern europeans would come and well over 1,000,000 ended up turning up.

    I know that technically Immigration and Asylum are supposed to be treated differently but I doubt the general public sees it that way. Doesn’t matter if you are an immigrant or asylum seeker, you still need to be housed and fed.

  8. Steve Cheney

    …right, but why gloss over the fact that Arab states near Syria – Turkey, the Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan – have taken well over 90% of all refugees?

  9. Steve Cheney

    “The trouble for the left is that Labour and the left are so discredited when it comes to immigration that no one is listening to you. We were told by labour that only 10,000 eastern europeans would come and well over 1,000,000 ended up turning up.”

    And then we all immediately died of immigrantitis?

    What really bothers me about comments like this is that they ignore a basic and obvious fact: that however many immigrants we took in under New Labour, none of the terrible consequences that the anti-immigrant mob predicted (and still predict, and always have predicted) actually occurred?

    Labour shouldn’t be fretting about this – they should be proud. They should be challenging the lie that immigration is causing unemployment or low pay – because it provably isn’t – and, just possibly, telling the frothing anti-immigrant mob to bugger off!

    Or they could try and humour them, because that’s worked so well in the past.

  10. Steve Cheney

    Yeeeeeah, that’s kind of the point though, isn’t it. That if the headline had to was honest and non-sensationalist, the Sun would never run with it, because it would make it obvious what a non-story this is.

    It seems like you’re saying “how can you complain about the Sun lying about this, when if they told the truth, no one would find it interesting!” To which my answer is: that’s the whole point; people shouldn’t find it interesting, because it isn’t.

  11. jj

    Which contrasts extraordinarily to the other half of Arab states that take zero. The Arab League ought to be doing something about co operation on this issue.

  12. slamdac

    We were lied to by Labour. Immigration may or may not be a good thing but the public should at least be asked, having been given the true facts, if they want a massive influx of people, Labour lied to the people and their credibility on Immigration is now shot. No one believes them.
    Every job an Immigrant does is one that could have been done by a native British person. Every house an immigrant lives in is a house than could have been lived in by a British person. Immigration increases the supply of labour and increases the demand for housing, thus driving down wages and driving up house prices/rent.
    Why aren’t Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman UAE taking any in.
    The whole world can not live in Europe. It will just make Europe as bad as the other places.

  13. WhiteVanMan

    Isn’t it they already linve in Europe and are crossing the ocean

  14. jj

    What? Most are Syrian, they dont live in Europe…

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