Saturday, February 28, 2004

New Survey Washes Whiter

Some mistake surely. Yesterday's Guardian quotes a 'new survey' which shows that 'total migration into the existing EU member states will run at 220,000 a year'. Sadly reporters Ian Black and Claire Dwyer don't tell us who carried out the survey, or indeed anything else about it, save that it implies "that the government's original "open-door" estimate of 5,000 to 13,000 a year coming to the UK is realistic and does not require limits on benefits, quotas or other restrictive measures. " We probably don't need to know any more, do we ?

After all, when the government released the last such comforting survey, some nasty statisticians had the nerve to demolish it.

I'm not a statistician, but one point occurs to me. All the existing EU countries (save the UK and Ireland) would have imposed restrictions on people coming either to work or claim benefits when the survey was done. Blair's second thoughts only came a week or two back. Surely even were the overall figures correct (and the Guardian won't tell us who did the survey so it can't be checked) the likelihood is that Britain and Ireland would get the lion's share due to being the only countries without restrictions.

Perhaps we should reject the scare-mongering of the tabloids and Migrationwatch. As Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, says "We don't think anything like this will happen. Anyway, the Roma (Slovak and Czech gypsies) are a persecuted minority."

Blair and Blunkett have decided that immigrants from the enlarged EU will not be eligible for benefits. If the reaction of the Slovak Roma to a 50% benefit cut is any guide, Geoff Hoon must be hoping things stay calm in Basra, or he'll be running out of troops.

"Thousands of police backed by 2,000 soldiers in the ghetto towns of eastern Slovakia appeared to have temporarily ended attacks by mobs forcing their way into food shops."

Sounds more as if the shopkeepers are the persecuted minority. But don't worry. The BBC reports that "A Roma leader in eastern Slovakia, Frantisek Gulas from the Slovak Romany Council, told the AP news agency that his group was working with police to try to persuade Roma not to loot. "