David Keighley: Double standards on immigration. The BBC trumpets the case for and ignores critics

The BBC keeps telling us that its coverage of the immigration debate is getting better and fairer.

Remember, for example, when, back in January, political editor Nick Robinson uttered a solemn and very public undertaking that Auntie was mending her ways? No longer, he suggested, would opponents of the EU’s ‘free movement of peoples’ principle be bracketed with xenophobes or racists.

He also wrote:

“My own organisation, the BBC, has admitted that in the past we made mistakes. We were too slow to recognise and reflect the concern, dislocation and anger felt by many.

Six months or so on, how is Auntie doing?  Well...

Exhibit A is from the think tank Civitas, which published a few days ago a very important contribution to the current immigration debate by respected Cambridge economist Bob Rowthorn.  This former ‘leftist’ (as the Daily Mail gleefully described him)  pointed out that on current trends immigration would lead to a population growth of 20m in the next fifty years, and would create massive strains on the country’s infrastructure while at the same time having few discernible economic benefits and only minimal improvement in GDP per capita.

This is a meticulous 83-page survey by a master of economic theory, a cool-headed, objective look at the immigration debate.  It received widespread analytical coverage in newspapers, including the Independent as well as the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.

So what did the new, immigration-aware BBC make of it?

Well nothing.  Zilch. I have searched the BBC website in vain for any mention of it, and also been in touch with David Green, the director of Civitas to check with what broadcast coverage there has been. He tells me his office has not received a single call about the report from any of the Corporation’s serried ranks of 5,000 or so journalists.

Importantly, Professor Rowthorn’s paper debunks a report by Christian Dustmann, a University College, London, immigration ‘expert’, who argued back in November in a paper for the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration that immigrants, especially those from Eastern Europe, were having a strongly positive impact on the UK economy through the increased taxes they paid.

The Dustmann report - unlike Professor Rowthorn’s – did receive widespread coverage on the BBC, those same massed ranks of newshounds got very excited and went to town with items in the bulletins and a string of features, including on Radio 4’s Today.  Breathlessly, the morning bulletins declared:

“A report says recent immigrants have paid substantially more into the public purse in taxes than they have taken out in benefits.  The study, by University College London, says migrants from European countries have made a particularly positive contribution.”

Dustmann’s views, it is true, were ‘balanced’ in the Today feature with commentary by Sir Andrew Green of the Migration Watch think tank, who questioned the statistical techniques he employed. But in other parts of the programme there was commentary from BBC correspondent Danny Shaw, who said that the report was ‘the most thorough of its kind’. In other words, he stressed the credence of the report.

Back in March Migration Watch itself published a comprehensive report rebutting Professor Dustmann’s arguments.  The BBC’s reaction?  Well, they completely ignored it.

Exhibit B is that News-watch is now well advanced in the he process of completing analysis of more than 300 transcripts across eight of the major BBC news programmes in the month leading up to European elections, which took place in May.

Immigration, of course, was centre stage. The clear headline is that throughout – largely because they favoured stronger controls - Nigel Farage and UKIP were treated as aberrant, venal incompetents pursuing racist, nasty-party policies. The issue of potential racism was raised editorially time and time again.

By contrast, those who favoured the EU’s free movement policies and indulged in the ‘racist’ name-calling, such as the Labour MP Mike Gapes, received a much fairer hearing.  Of which, more when the research is complete.

The BBC, as I have already pointed out in a separate TCW posting, have already declared this News-watch analysis to be wrong, without having read or considered it. Their view is that the coverage of the European election campaign was perfectly balanced.

Which leads where? The BBC tells us they are being fair on immigration and, indeed, they engineered that one of its most senior correspondents shouted it from the rooftops. But meanwhile, when hard evidence is produced to show that this is not the case, they bury their heads in the sand, say it’s wrong or ignore it altogether.  How very, very Animal Farm.

David Keighley
  • Shooty*

    Well… duh. We all knew this.

    Also nice to see Pointless Nick this morning making a speech about inter-EU immigration, blatantly ignoring the elephant in the room (i.e. the kind of immigration that we’re all actually concerned about, and which will make this country like ISIS within 10 years), in case he alienates the billions of postal voters in certain enclaves around the country (who are going to vote Labour anyway).

    Miliband knows this, hence his criticism of Israel.

    On the subject of Isis, I guess it’s not newsworthy any more, despite clearly still being ‘a thing’.

    ‘Yes’, say the BBC, ‘ISIS is still there, but Gaza. Gaza Gaza Gaza.’

  • marc biff

    The conservatives roll over meekly when ever challenged by the BBC they also took part in the disgraceful attacks on UKIP.

  • NewburyExile

    And have you contacted the Head of News at the BBC and asked for an explanation? Have you sent this article to him and asked for his response? I don’t see the point of posting an article like this on a site the BBC is unlikely to read – you need to send this to the BBC and OfCOM.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Not much point in that. The BBC ignore you, as I have reason to know. I complained about this article:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27665891

      and so did the ONS Migration Statistics Unit (I have been in correspondence with them about it). The BBC finally deigned to respond 6 weeks later by claiming that there is nothing wrong with the article, having referred back to the author who is either just incompetent or wilfully promoting a lie (hard to tell which). The entire article is based on a false understanding, because it attempts to count the fairly stable numbers of the average stock of people on short term visits as if they were fresh long term emigrants, rather than appreciating that only the much smaller changes in the average numbers abroad from one year to the next are a migration flow. In fact, because fewer people were making short term trips abroad, the most recent data show that the average UK population increased in the most recent year on that account by 8,000 – not the 136,000 reduction claimed by the article. The BBC pretending immigration is much less of a problem than it really is….

      Then we have the case of the new BBC News Head of Statistics – Anthony Reuben, appointed in February – who made his estimate of the number of people potentially affected by the latest benefits clampdown by wrongly applying data from different periods. If he’d done the numbers correctly they would have been twice as large. I’m still waiting for the denial on that one.

    • http://Firebird.com JunkkMale

      OFCOM? Zero point. BBC Complaints? Even less… if seeking a coherent response, but still worth it to witness the bizarre process that will get initiated to make the thing go away no matter what and result in that awesome record the BBC has for finding the BBC free of fault. Which it does, internally, in secret, all the time.

      Hence the value of positing in public, as it gets shared and noticed versus staying their little secret; a corporate policy that has served few well over the years. Including the BBC’s deluded and now credibility free reputation for trust or transparency.

    • Cooper cap

      Better to write to your MP and I have little faith in that either.

  • vi_sa

    Have you raised this with the BBC? They have a complaints procedure, they have to reply to any complaints you raise. It is very important we flag this.

    • itdoesntaddup

      News to me. I’m still awaiting any reply to a complaint I made back in May.

    • Cooper cap

      Have you ever listened to Feedback on Radio 4. Every BBC response I have ever heard shakes the dice on exactly the same set of words justifying their position. I have been thinking of writing in to say they could fit in more complaints if they just gave the one response at the end of the programme.

  • blingmun

    The BBC mindset assumes its own version of impartiality is enlightened, balanced and objective. It is almost impossible to have a meaningful dialogue against such arrogance.

  • David Prentice

    Thanks, David, important article. However, when you have Ian Katz appointed to edit Newsnight, straight out of the Guardian or James Purnell appointed to a senior BBC management position out of Gordon Brown’s cabinet, it’s no surprise, is it, to see a strong left-wing bias to the BBC’s editorial line. It’s just a travesty that the British public continue to fund it on pain of imprisonment. The BBC needs a new funding model, subscription only, and since they won’t move in this direction of their own accord, the Govt needs to act.

  • aanpakkuh

    BBC is in favour of immigrants who tend to vote Labour which will fund BBC more lavishly through generous license fee settlement than Conservatives …
    … is like:
    Night follows day
    Rain falls down
    Bears …

  • SonofBoudica

    Nothing the BBC says or does surprises me. It it no longer an impartial conveyor of News. It is a participant in debate with strong views of its own, which it pushes relentlessly to the detriment of any other viewpoint that does not coincide with BBC political ideology. For this reason alone the compulsory BBC television tax must be ended.

    • agneau

      No longer? It never was. Where was it during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when you weren’t anyone in the establishment unless you were having some sort of illegal sex.

  • Ulysses Jefferson

    Always trying to tell me what I want. I’ll always disagree with Beeb because, well, who needs a reason….and that’s good enough for me, supercilious, patronising, champagne socialist

  • The Masked Marvel

    Why are you surprised? After Nick Robinson made that faux apology, he went and made a blatantly biased documentary about how it was wrong to oppose rapid, mass immigration, following the BBC line exactly. He hasn’t been promoted to Today for it yet, but give it time.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Why protect Nick Robinson? Did you not see his documentary?

  • Phil Hove

    Roll on the 2016 Review – The sooner the BBC’s wings are clipped the better. Please CM & Sport Committee reduce the ‘left’ damaging spin, which is not supported by the majority of people who pay the tax for this broadcaster.
    The public service statutory remit is so often abused and one does not have to be an extreme political animal to quickly conclude there is a definite ‘left’ slant to political reporting,(which is possibly down to staff hiring over donkeys years), which means they cannot really help themselves with the red mist bias on EU, immigrant cohesion and politics.
    They can produce brilliant programmes which can easily compete with the commercial market so let them go to a subscription model so we no longer have to fund what the majority do not want, like such exorbitant salaries from our taxes, (even then the BBC try to avoid taxes by making some top earners go self employed – despicable behaviour).
    This tax licence fee system, sees the courts clogged up with 180,000 annual non-payers, (mainly the poor and immigrants) and gives the corporation such a financial advantage over other UK media. This enormous budget enables it to indoctrinate a lot of the citizens of this Nation into it’s own left slanted ethos which will eventually, like the corporations Pedophilia breeding, come back to haunt it.

  • http://www.identityforum.org.uk Bain Dewitt

    The term ‘Biased’ Broadcasting Corporation simply isn’t accurate. It’s not merely slanted, but blatant agitprop.

  • evad666

    The BBC today allowed comment that” of course British muslims do not support ISIS” to go unchallenged.
    I am still awaiting the condemnation.