By Dr Phil Edwards-According to their web site, Migration Watch UK are an independent think tank, concerned “that successive UK governments have lost control over our borders during the past fifteen years, and this has resulted in immigration on a scale that is placing huge strain on our public services, housing, environment, society and quality of life”
I think we can all agree with that.
But now the Guardian has revealed that the BBC has been criticised over the way it stages debates on immigration issues by campaigners who say it is uncritically airing the views of Migration Watch.
Founders of a group calling themselves Migration Matters – an organisation that says it wants "an open and honest debate about the issues of migration" – recently wrote to the acting director of BBC News, Fran Unsworth to voice its concerns.
But the letter – passed to the Guardian (who else?) - claims the BBC increasingly treats Migration Watch as "neutral analysts of UK migration patterns", adding that its opinions often go unchallenged on BBC news programmes, and that "Migration Watch UK are not an independent think tank, or academic body, but a lobbying and campaigning organisation that is currently engaged in a campaign entitled 'No to 70 Million’''.
Migration Watch says its policy objective is to control the number of non-EU migrants who are given the right to settle permanently in the United Kingdom.
They say migration from the whole of the EU accounted for only around 20% of net migration under the Labour government. By far the greatest proportion of net migration comes from countries outside the EU.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch, insisted his group was "independent of all political parties" and says it makes no secret of its support for migration in both directions nor of its desire, shared by 70% of the public, to see a reduction in current levels of migration.
It also has a track record of accuracy which is now widely acknowledged.
One Migration Watch UK Advisory Council member is the academic David Coleman, professor of Demography at Oxford University since 2002, and formerly Reader and Lecturer in Demography.
Professor Coleman will know a thing or two about immigration and its effects on UK demography.
But what about the group the Guardian are championing, Migration Matters – what do we know about them and their rationale?
Are they able to give an “open and honest debate” about immigration and who are they?
Migration Matters is a cross-party organisation chaired by the former Labour MP Barbara Roache and co-chaired by the Tory MP Gavin Barwell.
The group's website says it has the support of "politicians, business executives and trade union leaders", adding: "We acknowledge the positives of migration, while directly confronting the challenges modern migration patterns pose to society."
According to their web site the Migration Matters Trust is led by a “chair” and two “co-chairs”.
Born in England with a Polish Russian Ashkenazi Jewish father and Sephardic Jewish Spanish Portuguese mother, Barbara Roche, once made the outrageous and factually incorrect statement “We are all migrants, so if you want to celebrate Britain then you have to celebrate migration."
Co “chair” of Migration Matters is Lord Navnit Dholakia, a British Liberal Democrat politician and the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.
Lord Dholakia is one of the most senior Asian politicians in Britain.
Another co “chair” is Tory MP Gavin Barwell who, with a Cambridge Natural Sciences degree, ought to know better.
Director, Atul Hatwal runs the day to day campaigns and other members include Greg Thomson of the virulent anti BNP trade union Unison, and Julia Onslow-Cole who works at Price Waterhouse Coopers, and has “over 20 years' experience in providing specialist immigration advice”.
Migration Matters outline what they claim to be a number of “myths” – for example migration is a net economic burden, but they say the government's own figures show current levels of net migration of 250,000 per year boost annual GDP by 0.5% (source: Office for Budget Responsibility).
This growth means more jobs, higher tax revenues, more funding for schools and hospitals and a lower deficit.
More jobs for the police, immigration lawyers, TB specialists, more overcrowding and expense in schools, transport, NHS etc – back in 2008 the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said immigration was worth just 58p each week on the living standards of the native population – about the price of a Mars bar.
Anyway, there’s more to life than money.
I very much doubt Migration Matters, essentially a group of immigrants, leftists and fat cats, are to be trusted to give "an open and honest debate about the issues of migration".
We should all keep a watchful eye upon them.