Sunday, 1 May 2016

"Easy slogans"

Mark Mardell's The World This Weekend tried to look beyond what Mark himself called the "easy slogans" of Brexit supporters about us "regaining control of our borders" by looking at what leaving the EU might actually mean for immigration to the UK. 

Now, some might say that "easy slogans" is a sneering, biased way of characterising the rhetoric used by leading Brexit campaigners, but Mark Mardell has never been one to let 'BBC impartiality' get in the way of his reporting. So that's all right then.

He then talked to John Vine, former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration here in the UK, asking him about UKIP's Australian-style points system for immigration. He said that Mr. Vine "knows more than most" about such things (which some might call 'the argument from authority fallacy', and others 'bias by labelling'). Mr. Vine was very downbeat about it. He described the difficulties of such a policy: lots more bureaucracy and a "considerable cost" for the British taxpayer, including if we want to extend it to EU citizens.. It certainly wouldn't "be simple" to extend that to EU citizens, he said, repeating his earlier points.

Mark then said that both Michael Gove and Boris Johnson also back this (just-trashed) Australian-style system.

Mark then introduced Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch (neutral in the EU debate). Alp doesn't want such a system. He wants work permits given to those skilled people we need and work permits denied to low-skilled workers we don't. Mark raised "a problem with that". Alp called for better-skilled border agency staff.

Mark, continuing his narrative, then said (in response to Alp's comments) that if we imposed such restrictions other EU countries would react in kind - and that means that all the other 26 passport-free countries in the Schengen Zone would have to follow suit. German CDU veteran Elmar Brok (a very strong EU supporter) then reinforced his message. British citizens working in the EU would suffer, said Elmar, and - like Norway and Switzerland - we'd have to obey EU rules or suffer "major economic implications". 

Mark then cited a "new study" by the "independent" NIESR (and "independent" was his word - again possibly leading 'some' to cry 'Bias by labelling!'). We'll need those EU workers, according to the NIESR - in contrast to "what Leave supporters might expect", Mark said.

The NIESR says the "prospect of new controls alarmed many employers, particularly in construction, hospitality and the food and drinks industry". Dr. Heather Rolfe from the NIESR duly appeared to say that such employers see no other alternative to EU workers as we Brits aren't keen on doing such jobs (we all want to be footballers). Mark asked her (in a downbeat voice) what employers thought about us leaving the EU. Such employers are "very concerned", she said - especially about the long-term.

Tim Martin of Wetherspoon is "passionately" pro-Brexit, Mark said, but doesn't want such migration controls. Mark laid out the success of Wetherspoon's (£112 million profit last year) and how many people it employs nationwide (more than 35,000 people). Oddly we didn't hear why Mr. Martin wants us to leave the EU. Mark only gave us his comments on why he thinks "migration has been a good thing."

Tim praised the Eastern European workers who work for his company (and, from my own experience, rightly so). Mark asked him whether "like most other companies in that area" his company "employs a fair number of migrant workers from Europe".Tim praised them again. He wants workers to come to the 'remaining EU' to keep on coming and says that "a democratically-elected government in the UK" will decide how to manage that. 

Then came a short, sharp interview with Arron Banks, leader of the Leave.EU campaign. He takes the UKIP line on post-Brexit immigration. Predictably, Mark Mardell's questions grew longer and more challenging, piling on some of the anti-Brexit/pro-migration points we'd heard before. Mr. Banks was short and sharp in response.

And that was that.

And that follows a pattern that is becoming all too familiar from The World This Weekend during this run-up to the EU referendum.

I believe that I've described what happened fairly. And I believe that I've shown the problem of bias to be firing on various cylinders (pro-Remain, pro-immigration). Please listen for yourselves though and tell me if I'm wrong.


  1. The bias has been relentless! Thanks for this latest analysis showing just how very deep it runs. I don't know how someone like Mardell can look in the mirror of a morning and not feel ashamed...but I suppose by some devious psychological process he convinces himself he is being fearlessly objective.

    You only have to look at Japan - the third largest economy in the world - to see that it is perfectly possible to control immigration while still remaining connected to the outside world, if you are serious about doing so.

    Once we leave, we will develop migration controls that suit us. I imagine they will be built around (a) guest worker status for most people coming to work here (b) some kind of infrastructure levy to reflect the true costs of immigration (c) an Australian style points system (d) offshore processing of asylum applications.

  2. I eagerly await Mardell's balancing segment on how an independent UK's economic future wouldn't be the disaster Remainiacs claim, and that most of the doom and gloom is either sheer speculation or outright number-fudging. He is required to do that according to the BBC's editorial policy, right?

    Immigration is a pet issue for the racialist Mardell, who values people according to the color of their skin over their character.