The Daily Mail lies about today's immigration figures

The paper claims that "immigration soared" by 20 per cent last year. But it was net migration that r

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The Daily Mail hasn't missed an opportunity to use today's migration figures to indulge in some populist scaremongering. "Immigration soared by 20% last year," thunders the top story on the paper's website (see screengrab above). Except, of course, it didn't. Net migration - the difference between the number of people entering and leaving Britain - rose by 21 per cent last year to 239,000, largely due to the lowest level of emigration since June 2005. The long-term immigration rate was 575,000 in 2010, up slightly from 567,000 the previous year - a 1.4 per cent rise, not a 20 per cent rise.

But why bother crunching the numbers? If the facts don't suit your story, change them. The first line of the Mail's story repeats the error: "The number of people migrating to the UK soared by more than 20 per cent last year, according to official figures released today". One can only conclude that the paper's journalists are either extremely stupid or extremely cynical. Mendacious journalism of this sort, designed to encourage the worst prejudices of the Mail's readers, does not deserve to be tolerated.

Bizzarely, towards the end of the story, the paper quotes the correct figure, noting that "long-term immigration was 575,000, similar to the levels seen since 2004". But perhaps they're assuming people won't read that far. I noted in my earlier post that Sky News erroneously claimed on its website that "immigration" had risen to 239,000. They have since changed their headline to reflect the facts: "Net Migration To UK Shoots Up More Than 20%". Will the Mail?

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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John McDonnell praises New Labour as he enters conciliatory mode

The shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present by crediting the 1997 government. 

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, John McDonnell has been on a mission to reinvent himself as a kinder, gentler politician. He hasn’t always succeeded. In July, the shadow chancellor declared of rebel MPs: “As plotters they were fucking useless”.

But in his Labour conference speech, Corbyn’s closest ally was firmly in conciliatory mode. McDonnell thanked Owen Smith for his part in defeating the Personal Independence Payment cuts. He praised Caroline Flint, with whom he has clashed, for her amendment to the financial bill on corporate tax transparency. Jonathan Reynolds, who will soon return to the frontbench, was credited for the “patriots pay their taxes” campaign (the latter two not mentioned in the original text).

McDonnell’s ecunmenicism didn’t end here. The 1997 Labour government, against which he and Corbyn so often defined themselves, was praised for its introduction of the minimum wage (though McDonnell couldn’t quite bring himself to mention Tony Blair). Promising a “real Living Wage” of around £10 per hour, the shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present. Though he couldn’t resist adding some red water as he closed: “In this party you no longer have to whisper it, it's called socialism. Solidarity!”

As a rebuke to those who accuse him of seeking power in the party, not the country, McDonnell spoke relentlessly of what the next Labour “government” would do. He promised a £250bn National Investment Bank, a “Right to Own” for employees, the repeal of the Trade Union Act and declared himself “interested” in the potential of a Universal Basic Income. It was a decidedly wonkish speech, free of the attack lines and jokes that others serve up.

One of the more striking passages was on McDonnell’s personal story (a recurring feature of Labour speeches since Sadiq Khan’s mayoral victory). “I was born in the city [Liverpool], not far from here,” he recalled. “My dad was a Liverpool docker and my mum was a cleaner who then served behind the counter at British Homes Stores for 30 years. I was part of the 1960's generation.  We lived in what sociological studies have described as some of the worst housing conditions that exist within this country. We just called it home.”

In his peroration, he declared: “In the birthplace of John Lennon, it falls to us to inspire people to imagine.” Most Labour MPs believe that a government led by Corbyn and McDonnell will remain just that: imaginary. “You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one,” the shadow chancellor could have countered. With his praise for New Labour, he began the work of forging his party’s own brotherhood of man.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.