And at 23.01, here's the BBC's latest update. The percentages have gone. We're into seats now:
You need 176 seats to win a majority. The centre-right and centre, if these figures are correct, have 162 seats; the centre-left/far-left have 160 seats - though I believe there's another far-left party in Spain that might tip the balance a little bit (I saw that somewhere else on social media). No two parties can form a majority on their own. Hung parliaments R them.
At which point, I'll bid you buenas noches.
For all you Bias-spotters, I think there were rich pickings in the segment on migration in Radio 4's World at One (22nd December) - including I think at least one new species of (pseudo) argument to watch out for in future. Anyway here's my summary of the segment:
1. George Alagiah provided the allegedly "factual" content prior to the studio debate. Despite being a BBC journo allegedly dedicated to providing "balanced accounts" he made no effort to offer a balanced report (perhaps he feels his recent illness absolves him of such mundane considerations). It was all relentlessly pro-migration. We heard from Leonard Doyle, a spokesperson for the International Organisation FOR Migration (that preposition tells you all you need to know). We heard from an immigrant businessman who spoke in a slightly plummy accent and who was a purveyor of traditional English roast food – like all Bangladeshi immigrants of course. Then there were the more familiar speakers - the roving bleeding heart Irishman Peter Sutherland and Civitas spokesperson Anastasia de Waal, telling us we have to accept mass migration as a historic inevitability, and we just need to fund whatever infrastructure was required.
2. Alagiah threw in a bit of irrelevant history, namely that we used to export people on a grand scale to the dominions. Yes - and your point is? Alagiah didn't have a point...it was just a useful “debate sedative” as far as he was concerned. A sort of “time and tide wait for no man” argument…similar to Sutherland non-argument based on “inevitability” (that fences do not prevent migration – tell that to Walter Ulbricht).
3. The ex pat non-sequitir...we were told (in that irritating sing-song voice that Alagiah uses to signify something we are supposed to be surprised by) there are 5.5 million ex pats living abroad. What is Alagiah saying? That they will all head home if we decide to control migration into this country? But surely if they did that would be “good for the economy” as they always allege any inward flow is!
4. We heard the usual economic illiteracy on display. The Bangladeshi restaurateur was allowed to claim huge benefits for the UK economy from his business despite it being explicitly stated that the majority of staff were migrants. So we have a business owned by migrants and staffed by migrants providing a basic product (food - we can only eat so much food in a day and we all need to eat a certain amount). And yet it is somehow supposed to provide “added value” for UK citizens. It’s not hi-tech, or an export industry. To the extent that migrants have got a share of the internal UK food industry, it has probably taken value away from UK citizens (before we consider how much we end up subsidising the low wage workers in that business).
Jonathan Portes (the “pro” migration participant in the post-Alagiah debate) made his usual unverified claims about the benefits of migration – but ended up with an emotional appeal based on his own family experience. Few of us would doubt the overall benefits to our economy of Russian Jewish migration or even say East African Asian migration. That’s cherry picking the argument. But the balance sheet for migration from places like Bangladesh, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania and Bulgaria will be far more contentious. However, even if we were importing just geniuses in physics, maths, economics, philosophy, chess, business and so on, there is no reason to think that our society as a whole would benefit from unlimited immigration. Even chess players need houses, schools, health services etc.
5. There was a late assertion by Alagiah of that other old chestnut – migration has been going on forever…Romans and Romanians, monarchs and migrants… And your point is what, exactly, Mr Alagiah? That we should allow 2 million people into this country next year because the Romans invaded in 43AD?
6. Then there was a bit of blarney at the end about free movement of people being a litmus test for the 21st century (whereas history shows we’ve had periods of tight and loose immigration control since the year dot and life has gone on).
7. Out of the 8 speakers during the segment, it appeared that 7 were people who were either non-UK nationals or UK citizens from a fairly recent migrant background. What was singularly lacking was the voice (still the overwhelming majority in the UK) of people in this country from families who have had no significant migrant input over several centuries. This is a frequent feature of discussions of migration on the BBC and in the rest of the UK Media in fact.
8. Alph Mehmet of Migration Watch was not that effective. He managed to describe 360,000 people as the equivalent of a “medium sized town” – making it sound rather small. This may indicate his poor grasp of English or possibly just broadcast nerves. Of course he should have said a figure of 360,000 is the equivalent of a LARGE city like Bristol or Cardiff. Imagine if one of them were wiped out by a tsunami. Would we be saying it was a trivial matter to rebuild it?
9. There was definitely one new species of pro-migration argument – one I had never before heard aired, namely that it was “offensive” even to argue for pro-migration controls because so many UK citizens now were from families with an immigrant background! This was put by Mardell. Well that is a wonderfully rational belter of an argument isn’t it? Not sure what fallacio it is but it’s definitely one of them. I thought I may have spotted another new species of argument as well, though only fleetingly – must be a rare bird this one.
The argument seemed to be (put by Mardell and backed by Portes most enthusiastically) that, even though the pro-migration lobby has been beating us over the head with bogus stats for the last decade or more, really it’s ALL ABOUT YOUR SUBJECTIVE VIEW! Yes – doesn’t really matter about the stats or the economics. Migration is all a matter of taste. And if you don’t like it you are the equivalent of the person who likes a bit of Blue Nun over the finest produce of the French vineyards i.e. you have no taste. As I say, the argument was not in full view…perhaps for good reason.
Well I must say that as we have begun motoring into the festive season, I have noticed that bias on the BBC seems to becoming ever more pronounced and – almost – reckless. I don’t put it down to the BBC having secured its future via the licence fee settlement. I think it’s more a kind of mental sickness, the sort you get when unreasonable ambition hits the wall of reality. In the world of BBC (and basically the whole of the Elitosphere including Guardianland, Islingtonia, and the BDG Territory – Boris/Dave/George) , migration is a positive boon no matter how large or whatever its provenance. It’s clearly an absurd, unreal and unproven assertion, but it maintains a powerful spell over people. Under the magical wand of migration, capitalists become benefactors (“bring me your poor and huddled masses and I will give them jobs…ok low paid jobs but jobs nonetheless so they will be a lot better off than in their country of origin”), socialists fulfil their internationalist intentions (“we are one world, so let us welcome the millions of impoverished and downtrodden individuals from around the planet to this country, especially as they are much more likely to vote Labour than Tory”), religious people can really get their rocks off (“this is the Lord’s plan that we should bring comfort to the poor and oppressed, as long as you aren’t specifically requesting me to put them up in the Vicarage”), celebrities can pontificate (“I may be a dyslexic actor who never mastered anything as complicated as economics, history or sociology but now is my chance to hold forth from the stage at the end of a play in a way that suggests I have some superior understanding of ethics than all the rest of you dull multitudes.”) and media folk can ejaculate all over the airwaves in emotional spasms (“But what about Paddington Bear? Are you suggesting he should be Tasered at the border?) etc etc.
The only problem with all that is the reality. In the real world, mass immigration is a huge drag on our economy and our individual prosperity as more and more we have to pay for the migration infrastructure. This is what the Portesistas of the world don’t understand. In 19th century North America migration meant a lot of poor people moving into agriculture on what was basically free or extremely cheap land.
But each family that set up on a homestead could feed through their produce several other families. In those sorts of circumstances, every new migrant is a clear positive win for your economy. That is not where we are. The UK is a highly developed economy. Each new migrant has to be plugged into that highly developed infrastructure – and that means a huge amount of upfront investment. So even the Bangladesh peasant migrant coming to work in a restaurant in London, is immediately eligible for housing costing £250,000 and we are ready to inject other infrastructure into the new arrival – Does his job in the curry house really cover all this investment?
The problem we have is really one of false accounting. The capitalist looks at his balance sheet and says “Immigration is good.” The immigrant looks at his balance sheet and says “Immigration is good.” The fast food aficionado looks at her bill and says “Immigration is good.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer looks at his “bill” (inflation rate, wage costs, days lost to strikes etc) and says “immigration is good”. But no one is making a proper account.
ADDENDUM Having just finished this opus, I found that
I wasn't the only one to spot the megabias in this programme or Mardell's introduction of the new "argument from offensiveness". Hereon known as Mardell's Modus Ridicularis.