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?