Apparently last night on Channel 5 there was what had, I presume, been intended as a debate about immigration which seemed to turn into a row – in compliance with the title of the programme. Not that I watched it, but that is how it seemed from comments appearing on Twitter. Tim Stanley, writing in the Telegraph, provides his take on the evening, stating that what is need is a serious, calm conversation about immigration and not a big row.
It is perhaps with a sense of timing by either Channel 5 or the EU that the latter have just released the latest statistics on the subject of immigration. No doubt the sensationalizing sections of the press will seize on the fact that the United Kingdom reported the largest number of immigrants (566 044) in 2011, followed by Germany (489 422), Spain (457 649) and Italy (385 793); these four Member States together accounting for 60.3 % of all immigrants to EU-27 Member States; or that in absolute terms, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU on 1 January 2012 were found in Germany (7.4 million persons), Spain (5.5 million), Italy (4.8 million), the United Kingdom (4.8 million) and France (3.8 million). Non-nationals in these five Member States collectively represented 77.1 % of the total number of non-nationals living in the EU-27, while the same five Member States had a 62.9 % share of the EU’s population.
What must be taken into consideration is the emigrant numbers and in this context Spain reported the highest number of emigrants in 2011 (507 742), followed by the United Kingdom (350 703), Germany (249 045) and France (213 367).
We all know that statistics can be presented in many forms, especially when they are being used to reinforce an argument. Stanley highlights the problem immigration causes on social services and the burdens on our society, while making the point that the British feel they have no political leverage or cultural capital. As with most journalistic debate in the media today Stanley completely ignores the fact that decisions have been taken whereby our society has indeed changed and the people were not specifically consulted in the making of those decisions – in other words, like so many, he totally ignores the question of sovereignty and governance and in so doing just who it is that is sovereign and just who should be doing the governing.
If Stanley wants a serious, calm conversation about immigration, then perhaps he should ensure it is all encompassing – and not one of selectivity.