Saturday 29 November 2014

Did Duncan Weldon misspeak on 'Newsnight'?

Did you spot what former-TUC-chief-economist-turned-Newsnight-economics correspondent Duncan Weldon did last night? 

Discussing David Cameron's latest immigration speech with Kirsty Wark, Duncan prefaced his analysis with these words:
Before we look at the detail though it is worth remembering, you know, immigration in general, European immigration, is not a drain on the public finances. In general migrants contribute more than they take out.
Now, that's a potentially misleading way of putting it, isn't it? I took him to mean that all immigration, including EU immigration, is not a drain on the public finances and reacting with surprise to what he'd said. 

His sentence structure made that a reasonable reaction, don't you think? 

So was he referring to all immigration or just to European immigration? - because "immigration in general" is not the same as "European immigration" and by concluding "in general migrants contribute more than they take out", Duncan risked misleading viewers into believe that immigration as a whole benefits the UK economy, which it doesn't.

The idea that immigration as a whole benefits the UK was only the BBC's spin on the recent findings about immigration. A recent, controversial UCL report found that, yes, EU migration does indeed benefit the UK economy but that non-EU migration is a huge drain on it. 

Specifically, those findings were that EU immigrants boosted Britain's finances by £4.4bn in 17 years but that those from outside the EU cost us £118bn. [If you recall, the BBC massively played down the latter figure - unlike most other media outlets].

An edition of Radio 4's More or Less also made this clear. It analysed an earlier version of the UCL report and found that claims that immigration as a whole benefit the UK economy massively are untrue and that there is probably a negative overall effect thanks to non-EU immigration. It found that European immigrants make a positive contribution of £6,000 to the public purse while non-European immigrants make a negative contribution of £21,000 to the public purse. Its conclusion was that immigrants as a whole make a negative contribution of £14,000 to the public purse. 

So did Duncan Weldon "misspeak" with his repeated "in generals", and in fact mean only EU immigration (as per his sub-clause)? Or did he elide the two things intentionally?

P.S. It has to be added that the UCL reports findings about the positive economic effects of EU immigration were strongly contested by Migration Watch among others and that its chief author was accused of pro-EU bias. It seems that Duncan Weldon - like the rest of the BBC - just accepted them.


  1. The EU funded unit within UCL that produced that absurd report uses biased methods.

    For instance, many low income immigrants access social housing through housing associations. See this link below:

    The housing associations received £800 million public funds in three years, so about £270 million per annum. I don't know what proportion goes towards housing immigrants or recent immigrants but I suspect it's high. If it's around half, that would be £135m per annum.

    The total budget of the publicly funded HCA is a whopping £3.7 billion. So potentially the total being spent on immigrants might be far, far higher than £135 million. Remember, the only reason we need all these housing infrastructure and help to buy schemes is because of mass immigration and the resultant huge population rise (about 400,000 per annum) meaning we have to find the money to fund the hugely expensive housing infrastructure.

    I very much doubt these figures feature at all in the published analyses from so called researchers like UCL, just as the costs of publicly funded additional tuition for immigrant children, FGM clinics, new primary school places, extra prison and probation placements don't figure.

    The truth is no one has ever done a really thorough cost-benefit analysis.

    Dan Read

  2. Agreed, Craig. Weldon absolutely conflated the two to score an ideological point. They do this at the BBC on a regular basis, though, so probably nobody gave it a second thought. I didn't think Newsnight could possibly find an economics correspondent as biased and far-Left as Paul Mason, but I was wrong.

    The BBC has been pushing this narrative for years. Remember the White Series? It was the exact same message. They don't stop, no matter how many times people complain, because they're ultimately unaccountable. Only a purge can solve this.


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