Will The Last Briton Please Turn Out The Lights?

FIGURES RELEASED by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) today show that immigration fell around 3%; from 527,000 in 2007, to 512,000 in 2008; but that emigration, from the UK, rose 24% — from 318,000 to 395,000.

The figures also showed that in the second quarter of 2009, the number of people granted settlement in the UK, excluding citizens of Switzerland and European Economic Area countries, rose 26% (to 46,120) compared with the same period in 2008.

The vacancies, it appears, do not last long.

Or should that be the other way around?..

The story is in the figures, and the spin that has been applied to them by the ONS (faithfully reported by Reuters).

This link opens in a new window — so that you can compare both interpretations, side-by-side…

… (14/09/2009) – Asda Launches Asian Clothing Range

… (21/09/2009) – Lib Dems Back Points-Plan To Move Immigrants To Regions


8 Responses

  1. For those who haven’t noticed yet: in the Reuters’ report, net immigration is bound to go down if more Britons are leaving the country…

    • Reuters have changed their post Ted!

      They have taken most of the figures out and done a complete respin!

      It is no longer about the governments success in bringing down immigration, it is now accross two pages saying that the UK economy will suffer because of the lack of immigrants coming into the country to work here!

      • Yes. So they have. :</

        That will be one of those 'editorial' decisions that are often belatedly applied to material on the Web. However, you do not often see an article completely rewritten.

        The figures in my piece are accurate, and I see that the Reuters' article still includes those 'net immigration' figures (that you can see have been obtained from the same ONS source as mine).

        My original point, therefore, still holds – and I am not about to modify my piece; because other sites may have already linked to it.

        In fact, I think Reuters' modifications have actually served to improve it.

        Many thanks for letting me, and other readers, know :-).

        • But that shouldnt be allowed should it?

          • Legally there is no case to answer. Reuters have not changed any facts – so they cannot be accused of lying.

            The incident just goes to show how true it is that there are ‘Lies, damned lies – and statistics.’

            The problem is with quoting percentages, and not providing the actual figures from which they were derived. It is always the numbers that tell the full story. Percentages allow you to manipulate the raw data and spin it for your own purposes.

            Morally, you probably have a point. In Reuters’ new piece the numbers are omitted – so the reader cannot get behind how the percentages have been derived. But I think most readers would see that for themselves, and rightly conclude that the article was manufactured to express a particular opinion.

            You cannot deny journalists the right to express their views; but, personally, I would take issue with a case where facts were supressed in order to bolster an opinion. And I would agree that this is a particular case in point.

            In the world of new technology however, there could be a simple explanation for these ‘rewrites’. That first post may very well have been the efforts of a staff reporter to outline his piece – and he then ‘pressed’ the PUBLISH instead of the SAVE button (before he had actually finished it).

            It is not uncommon for inexperienced journalists to list the facts of a new piece on a blank page – and then work an angle around them.

            Personally, I think that is probably what happened here.

            Just his luck that a bloody freelance should get hold of his first attempt before he was able to finalize it! :-)

  2. Actually, after re-reading the ‘new’ Reuters report, I feel compelled to point-out that the writer’s intepretation of what constitutes ‘net immigration’ leaves a lot to be desired. (To say the least).

    The term ‘net’ is used to describe a difference – in this case, those coming into the country and those leaving it. The term ‘immigrant’ denotes a non-British passport holder – ’emigrant’ describes a British national (who holds a British passport).

    But immigration and emigration numbers are already ‘net.’ They record the ‘net’ movement since the last set of figures were taken. What we are actually talking about here are accumulative figures that are reduced and added to as British and non-British passports are seen by immigration staff. Both immigrants and emigrants have their own accumulative number and it is these numbers that are used in the statistics.

    So you cannot take the number of net emigrants from the number of net immigrants and then term it ‘net immigration.’ It is the net movement in the UK population (the number of British emigrants leaving the country less the number of non British immigrants entering it).

    And the net movement, through immigration, was up in 2008. If you look at my report there were 512,000 immigrants entering the country to 395,000 emigrants leaving it. In other words, a net influx, which increased the UK population by an additional 117,000 foreigners. And 395,000 places, previously held by Britons, were replaced by immigrants too.

    We can ‘analyze’ the figures all day; but it does not get away from the original number: the UK population saw another 512,000 immigrants last year.

    In short: the whole Reuters article is nonsense. And it is a perfect example of how your opinions, as a reader, can be manipulated – if you are not careful.

    The gutter press are experts at this type of misdirection, and you would not normally expect it from an agency like Reuters; but the Labour Government, through the likes of Mandelson, were quick to apply the technique to government information, which the press labelled ‘political spin.’ (The easiest place to find it is in Labour Council papers and literature).

    Unfortunately, opposition parties then applied the technique to their own press releases – and we have the situation we find ourselves in today.

    You should not take anything, which any government agency or politician says, at face value. Rather than provide a full picture, they inevitably select just those parts they can use to prove their case.

    As detailed in a previous article: if you cannot win an argument – change the question!


    • You are absolutely right. The figures show what everyone else has known for some time: Britain is being slowly taken over by immigrants. And that Reuters article is a perfect example of how politicians hide the truth in their damned statistics

      More of this Ted, Ive already used my vote

  3. […] WE HAVE BEEN EXAMINING how figures are manipulated by politicians (and some reporters) to support their own quirky views: Bob Spink, our local MP, […]

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