A new ‘thinktank’, MigrationWatch UK, has claimed that two million foreigners will be settling in Britain.
It says much about the English newspaper industry that two men, with nothing more than a website and a set of alarmist figures about immigration to Britain, were able to set the news agenda for several days at the beginning of August, casting us back to the dangerous ‘numbers game’ of the Enoch Powell years. Migration Watch UK, a so-called ‘thinktank’ founded by Sir Andrew Green, a ‘retired diplomat’, and David Coleman, an Oxford don who has made a career out of giving governments academic backing for immigration restrictions, claimed that 2 million foreigners would be settling in Britain over the next ten years, pushing the country to crisis point.
While Coleman defended his figures, claiming to be an independent, scientific researcher striving to have an ‘open debate’ on immigration, his claims in fact give academic credibility to the kind of Daily Mail racism which holds that Britain is being ‘swamped’. As its website shows, the group’s starting assumption is that immigration is a bad thing and threatens the ‘coherence’ of the nation. The group first attempted to get media attention in May, when a figure of 1 million immigrants in five years was reported in the Sun, but the story failed to catch on. Shortly afterwards, the group increased its prediction to 2 million immigrants in ten years, but that still only got them a short mention in the Times.
It was only later in August that the Mail and Telegraph decided the story was worth pushing, and the Mail‘s front page reported ‘250,000 migrants a year entering Britain’ or, more graphically, ‘a city the size of Cambridge every six months’. Other sections of the media lamely followed suit, so that the story dominated the week’s news, as effectively as if Powell himself had risen from the dead and revisited his ‘rivers of blood’ speech. Ironically, the right-wing press – having set the entire news agenda for the country onto the question of whether ‘enough is enough’ – were still complaining by the end of it, that this was something that couldn’t be ‘openly debated’ because of an enforced silence on the issue caused by, you guessed it, political correctness.
Interesting to note then how little was mentioned of the group’s own background. Only Private Eye had the honesty to tell its readers that Andrew Green, as well as spending many years in the Diplomatic Service, including stints as ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Syria, also spent time on the board of Vickers Military Systems which makes tanks for dictatorships in the Middle East. Who better, then, to understand the forces which drive asylum seekers to flee their homes in the first place?