Thursday 4 December 2014

The Price of immigration?

The article that Matthew Price found so interesting virtually called for the dismantling of the state of Israel:
It is time to call a spade a spade: Israel, as a colony, is a constant source of violence and conflict. It is not an ex-colony, nor is it an accepted part of the world for many. It is a territory in the Middle East under Western occupation, which possesses no political legitimacy now, nor can it ever acquire such legitimacy in the future because it has no raison d'être and cannot create one.
At about the same time he announced a career move:
Well, he's arrived as Today's Chief Correspondent now and is fronting a series of occasional reports on immigration.

In Monday's programme he followed in the spirit of his earlier reporting from abroad
by interviewing an Eritrean illegal immigrant, the story of whose journey from the authoritarian hellhole of Eritrea through anarchic Libya and across the dangerous Med through Italy and France to our shores was bound to make us admire the man's spirit and force us to put ourselves in his shoes - i.e. to empathise, even sympathise with him. 

In Tuesday's programme, Matthew Price reported from northern England. His report began in a doctor's surgery in Huddersfield, a place "which is used to registering non-British patients". Matthew asked Yvonne Armstrong, the practice manager, whether her surgery has "the correct resources at the moment to deal with the changing nature of migration", She replied, "I would say no", pointing especially to staff having to deal with so many languages.

Very quickly, however, came the following question from Matthew Price:
So migration is bad for Britain, or at least parts of it?
Answered in this way:
 Not so, argues the head of Migration Yorkshire.
The head of Migration Yorkshire, Dave Brown, said that studies show that "nationally there is a benefit to migration." The problem, said Dave, is that people are confused about this at the local level because the taxes the migrants pay in go to the national government. He thinks that more of the money generated by migrants should be spent locally.

Matthew Price then went to a homeless shelter and spoke to a Polish immigrant they've taken in. He lost his job last year and thanks to the government's benefit changes has been "forced to rely on charities like this one". Mirosław said that he likes this country and wants to stay. Adam Clark of the shelter, run by Hope Housing, added that the government's benefit cuts have had "a massive impact" and brought about "destitution on a whole new level really".

"Campaigners say the reduction in benefits for migrants from the UK at a national level is leading to increased costs at the local level...", echoed Matthew. 

He then went to a school near York whose funding model is in part dependent on wealthy foreign families paying to send their children there. Headteacher Mark Rowan, Matthew said, "is convinced immigration is good for the country but he fears the impact the current political debate is having":
I think the mood music around the debate has led to a much tighter feel in terms of us securing visas for young people to come into this school and this is an experience also at universities. There are other countries which have a much more positive approach, such as Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
Matthew's pay-off line was: 
A key problems seems to be that the costs and benefits of migration are unequally spread across the country and that is having a huge effect on how the issue is both viewed and tackled.
Having spoken to a practice manager who expressed no views for or against immigration (merely described the situation at her surgery), to then interview another sympathetic immigrant feature three pro-immigration speakers and no anti-immigration speakers is hardly what you would call 'impartial reporting'. 

It's precisely these kind of reports that make charges of BBC pro-immigration bias stick - despite the claims of Helen Boaden, Nick Robinson, Mark Robinson and John Humphrys that, though such a pro-immigration bias used to exist, the BBC is OK now. 

To add insult to injury on Tuesday's edition, this undeniably biased report was followed by an interview with another pro-immigration speaker - Professor Ian Goldin of Oxford University, who said (among other things) that as far as immigration is concerned, "the benefits far outweigh the costs":
The benefits in the short term for the country overall are positive and in the long term they are even more positive because innovation and dynamism comes from immigrants.
He believes that immigrants should be spread more widely across the whole country, "so that the country as a whole benefits". 

Mishal Husain, doing the interviewing, wasn't her usual robust self, refraining from interrupting and merely asking such questions as: 
And, overall, when you see the kind of debate that we're having, how do you think it should be dealt with? Because there's clearly a gap between the kind of analysis that you have put forward now saying, overall, economically immigration is beneficial and what people feel in their local communities.
His reply?
Well, I believe that politicians should lead with a much stronger message that this is, overall, positive for the economy....and, of course, many of the people who say immigration should be stopped are themselves the sons of immigrants or the grandchildren of immigrants. Indeed our Royal Family have been immigrants at one time. So I think we need to tell a much more positive message and we need to be able to argue against those who say it's going to be bad. 
That didn't get a sceptical challenge and nor did his subsequent answer to a question about London, saying that everyone wanted to live in London because of its vibrancy, thanks to immigration. Raising the obvious point about 'white flight' from London never seemed to enter Mishal's head there.

Is a pattern emerging? Well, the last report [as far as I can see, and I've looked closely] from Matthew Price on this subject was on 24th November

He reported from a Polish Society centre in Bradford, beginning (briefly) with a long-term Polish immigrant who expressed the view that immigration should now be reduced. Then it was onto a Polish immigrant worker who is having his tax credits cut. Matthew asked him if that would "make things even more difficult". The worker said that England will lose out on "good workers". A Hungarian outreach worker said the government's benefit changes wouldn't have put her off because she didn't come here to claim benefits. 

York University's Professor Charlotte O'Brien then criticised the government's benefit changes, arguing that it hasn't worked in deterring immigrants from coming, it's just made those "at the bottom end poorer". [Her Twitter feed makes it even clear that she's strongly left-wing and very pro-immigration.] Increasing "destitution" and "child poverty" have followed. 

He then told us that "the vast majority" of EU immigrants who come here "are working and contributing to the economy", visiting a French bakery, where one immigrant worker didn't even know she could claim benefits.  

Finally, it was back to the Polish worker who complained earlier about England losing out on good workers.  He said that things were "too tight" and that "England is now no good for Polish people coming".

So, again - except for the long-term Polish immigrant at the start of his package, this report featured pleasant immigrants either reassuring us immigration or stressing the disadvantages of the government's benefit changes. The expert voice, again, was pro-immigration one.

Whether this pattern continues - and Today says the programme will continue with such reports over the coming months - only time will tell. Is Matthew Price going to be more balanced as time passes? Or persist in helping the BBC critics to prove continuing pro-immigration bias at the BBC? 


  1. Every 'migrant' he carefully selected, maybe. Tugging on the heartstrings to avoid the real issues. It's the oldest trick in the book.

  2. This is outrageous stuff from Matthew Price.

    We know that in many parts of London 50% of marriages in registry offices are bogus. Surely he's aware of that. Why would you then - as a supposedly hard bitten reporter - think that everyone who claims "I am fleeing war and persecution" is telling the truth?

    I've no problem with being asked to empathise with Eritreans. But I would also empathise with the Eritreans left behind: the elderly, the lame, the vulnerable - being robbed of the enterprising young people of their country.

    I don't trust Price one inch.

    Did he interview Migration Watch who have been far more accurate in their predictions about immigration figures than the government or BBC?

    Did he offer any negative examples of immigration e.g. special NHS facilities for FGM vicitms, UK citizens who can't get a job in industries where all the posts are advertised overseas and parcelled out by East European agencies (an absolute scandal BTW), Jamaican gangster networks, slavery (13,000 slaves in the UK), Islamic terrorism, grooming of vulnerable girls, and Roma pickpocket, benefits and begging scams and Somali community with only 40% economically active. If not, why not? You can't say these things are insignificant. They are to be put in the balance. These are the things you could avoid if you had strict immigration controls.

    Did he have a chat with Robert Spencer about the effects of Islamic immigration? - remember he was the guy who was far more accurate in his forecasts about what would happen with the Arab Spring than the BBC. He has been banned from this country by Theresa May, despite the fact that Spencer has been used as an expert tutor by the FBI.

    One always respects a war correspondent much in the way that Johnson said that every man who had never been a soldier felt a little bit of shame for the fact. However, even allowing for that, Price always struck me as looking and sounding a bit dense - something that the words he was actually speaking did nothing to dispel the impression.

    Dan Read


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