“3,000 illegal migrants a month” screams the increasingly pisspoor Telegraph this morning, as the kinds of frightener regularly fed to the unfortunates who read the Mail and Express are recycled by the former paper of record. The inference of the headline – that this is the number who arrive in the UK – is wrong. And it’s not the only slice of barrel-scraping journalism present.
So 3,000 illegal migrants don’t arrive in the UK each month? Sadly not: “in 2011/12 migrants were caught trying to enter Britain a total of 9,632 times, a figure which by last year had almost doubled reaching 19,003 ... The Home Office on Thursday disclosed that 11,920 entry attempts were detected at Calais and British ports in the first four months of this year alone – equivalent to almost 100 a day”.
“Entry attempt” is the key phrase. How many of these attempts were made by the same potential migrant? Remember, each one of these “entry attempts” is one that is detected, with the person detected then prevented from entering the UK. Unless it can be shown that multiple entry attempts have been removed from the figures, then the Tel’s claim of “3,000 illegal migrants a month” is meaningless.
And why are they coming here? “Migration experts said that Britain is one of the most ‘attractive’ destinations for migrants in the World and suggested that many more illegal immigrants are likely to have successfully made it into Britain ... Experts said that migrants were attracted by Britain's unregulated labour market, the ability to get free health care on the NHS and relatively generous welfare system”.
Ah yes, that “relatively generous welfare system”. There, in four words, is a prime example of why the Tel is such a cheap and nasty paper nowadays. Let’s take this one nice and slowly, shall we? Illegal migrants cannot access the benefits system. That is because they are illegal migrants. Ditto free health care on the NHS. And they can’t become a full participant in the labour market, either.
That is because they can’t get a National Insurance number. Because they’re illegal migrants. But they can claim asylum, even though, unless their claim is accepted, guess what? They still can’t access the welfare system. And, as for the UK being an “attractive” destination, it’s fifth most popular in terms of absolute numbers of all EU member states. The readily available statistics show this clearly.
Germany had 56,000 asylum applications in the third quarter of this year, Sweden 28,000, Italy 18,000, France 14,500 and the UK 8,900. By percentage of overall population, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Greece and the Netherlands had more than we did. The UK is so “attractive” that it doesn’t make it into the EU top ten by proportion of population.
And that is why the Telegraph’s lead headline is such a disgrace. Must try harder.