Fun With Immigration Figures

From the Let’s Compare Headlines Dept, we have another example of counter-spin in action. Via Channel4s FactCheck we hear that:

“Gordon Brown has done it again. The statistics he used for 2009 are an under-estimate, because they don’t include all migrants. The figures he used for 2007 and 2008, however, do. So he’s misled the public by comparing the most flattering data for the latest year with the most unflattering data in the previous years.”

That gives us a stark insight into the subject of a surprisingly wide spread of headlines:

“How Gordon Brown’s podcast turned an immigration rise into a fall” – Daily Mail

“Gordon Brown accused of fiddling immigration figures” – Daily Telegraph

…a wide spread, because BBC doesn’t seem to think it’s that big a deal…

“Row over Gordon Brown immigration figures podcast”

A “row” sounds so much less interesting, eh? Move along, nothing to see.

Hat-tip to GeorgeR in the Comments

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5 Responses to Fun With Immigration Figures

  1. George R says:

    Unlike the BBC, ‘Migrationwatch’ correctly has, as its headline:

    “Prime Minister gets his facts wrong on immigration”


  2. Will says:

    Brown’s fiddled figures were covered in some detail on R4 midnight news, yet on this mornings “Today” Wee Dougie Alexander was allowed to repeat them without challenge.


  3. David Preiser (USA) says:

    A “row” is interesting, but leaves room for the protagonist to be right.  Which, in this case, he isn’t. It’s a common journalistic trick, similar to “controversial”.  That just means somebody else disagrees, and allows the BBC to maintain a facade of impartiality.


  4. Craig says:

    The BBC’s article neglects to mention either Channel 4 News or MigrationWatch as the source of the story, implying instead that it came from the Conservatives – i.e. that it’s just another manufactured party political squabble. This might understandably tempt readers to dismiss it.


  5. John Horne Tooke says:

    “David Cameron has been attacked by the BBC  for trying to fiddle the crime figures to suit his own agenda.

    The Tory leader and his team are guilty of “numerical nonsense” over their claims that violence is on the rise, according to one of the Beeb’s top political analysts.

    Home Affairs editor Mark Easton hit out after the party singled out gun and knife crime as evidence Britain is “broken” – even though independently verified statistics show both are falling.

    Revealing the truth on his blog, Easton said: “We are going to get a lot of this during the election – the use of what Winston Churchill called ‘political statistics’…

    “On your behalf, I intend to keep a gimlet eye on any numerical nonsense as we head to polling day.”

    Eastons “analysis” of that issue is here

    So looking at Eastons blog –  so far I cannot find any mention of the “row” on Labours Immigration figures. But I will check his blog all this week to see if he really is keeping an “eye on any numerical nonsense .. on our behalf” emminiating from his friends in Labour.