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Saturday 14 January 2012

Lunchtime On The Migration Express

The screaming anti-EU line of the Express does not merely extend to the “news” part of the paper, but is also reinforced by their rabble of pundits: typical of this, and typically wrong-headed, is a recent missive from chief political correspondent Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn. In it, he asserts that the EU is to blame for youth unemployment in the UK, and cites MigrationWatch in support.

Who they? Well, MigrationWatch UK, to give it its full title, is yet another of those Astroturf lobby groups. It is chaired by retired diplomat Andrew Green, a sensitive soul who threatened libel action against Sally Bercow after she described an Express piece based on one of his press releases as “dangerous propaganda”, which for many of the group’s critics is merely stating the obvious.

MigrationWatch has recently released one of its so-called “reports” which attempts to pin the increase in youth unemployment on immigration from the “A8” countries – those that have only recently joined the EU. The document concedes that “Correlation is not ... proof of causation”, but through little more than nudge-nudgery tells that the rotten foreigners done it.

The “report”, significantly, has been condemned by groups across the political spectrum: at the New Statesman blog, Matt Cavanagh has called it “irresponsible scaremongering”, and details why the hypothesis that A8 net immigration has caused increased youth unemployment is wrong, but notes that the amount of press coverage garnered, especially from right leaning titles, has been significant.

And over on the right, Henry Oliver at the Adam Smith Institute has penned an article with the forthrightly expressed title “Why MigrationWatch is wrong about immigration and unemployment”. Oliver describes the use of figures as “classic mismanagement of the facts”, and echoes Cavanagh in pointing out that youth unemployment had started rising well before A8 migration began.

With both left and right dismissing the “report” – aided by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation also calling out MigrationWatch as “wrong” – any pundit given to occasional objectivity might have wondered. Not so “Lunchtime” O’Flynn. In his piece (“speaking up for himself”), he declares “EU Influx Means Our Youngsters Cannot Find Jobs”, berates politicians, and homes in on his one source.

Not for the first time, the MigrationWatch UK group run by retired ambassador Sir Andrew Green has performed the function of honourable whistleblower” he gushes, before name checking the group’s “report” and advocating forced reduction of those from other EU member states allowed to work in the UK. By the happiest of coincidences, this chimes with the Expresscrusade” against the EU.

Richard Desmond will be so pleased at the obedient behaviour of his poodle.

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