“True scale of European immigration” thundered the Sunday Telegraph three weekends ago, thus not only demonstrating the true agenda of the Barclay Brothers’ empire, but also ultimately biting back, with Full Fact concluding “We’ll be asking the Sunday Telegraph for a correction”. Because the impression was wrongly given that 600,000 migrants from other EU member states were unemployed.
It's the way he tells 'em
Moreover, as a nominal cost to the NHS was also pitched, the impression was clearly given that there was “health tourism” involved, if not “benefit tourism”, despite the number of those migrants claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance being rather lower by comparison with the indigenous population. Put directly, the Europhobes lost that one, and lost it badly. So some out there on the right plotted revenge.
And way out there on the right of most of his party colleagues is Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, who has taken to the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs to brandish his latest strawman while proclaiming “Revealed: one in seven people claiming working tax credit is a migrant”. See? They’re all claiming benefits! You didn’t believe Doug’s pals, did you? Well, more fool you!
“Migrants, we keep being told, are much less likely to claim benefits than Brits” is the strawman, being misleading twice over: the Telegraph’s original claim was about unemployment, and EU migrants. Carswell has moved the goalposts to include all migrants, and focus on those who are in work. This is the kind of dishonesty that comes disturbingly easily to far too many politicians.
So what’s Carswell’s spiel? “Migrants are more likely to be claiming working tax credit than the rest of the population. Indeed, they are 20 percent more likely to be claiming working tax credit that the rest of the population”. Very good Doug, that means they’re in work. “There are nearly half a million migrants claiming working tax credit in the UK”. And they do all the shit jobs.
Elsewhere in his post, Carswell moans about getting “howled down by supposed experts on Twitter”, linking to his pal Dan, Dan the Oratory Man and that now notorious attack on Jonathan Portes. Hannan’s post was about organisations like NIESR, where Portes works, getting EU grants and attempting to demonstrate partisanship. Carswell is trying to make “all migrants” an EU membership issue.
But non-EU migrants are not an EU membership issue: that is down to individual member states. So we should not be tempted to “look over there”, or indeed take Carswell’s conclusion seriously. “The claim that migrants are half as likely to claim benefits as UK nationals turns out to be a myth” he announces triumphantly. Yes Doug, that’s because you were the one making it.
Douglas Carswell: illuminating the debate by the light of his own burning trousers.