[Latest in a series of articles about the way in which statistics about migration and demographics are manipulated in order to mislead people and cause harm generally.]
Here’s the latest immigration numbers game horror story. It comes from cabinet minister Chris Grayling on Radio Four. During a discussion of the EU on Question Time Grayling suddenly announced that an “additional population the size of Newcastle” was fronting up in the UK each year, because of the EU.
The population of Newcastle is around 300,000; which is about the same number as the net surplus of migrants in to the UK last year over the emigrants who left last year.
That’s an increase in the order of half of one percent in the total population, which doesn’t sound like much because it isn’t. Half of one percent of anything at all isn’t normally worth bothering about, unless it is amount of time spent listening to Claire Fox of the (pointless?) Institute of (stupid?) Ideas, who was also on the show.
But the vision of each an every year having to accommodate an additional 600,000 Geordies does grab the attention, as evidently intended.
And this is every year, mind. So you just get finished erecting a new gigantic brutalist medium sized European city plus regional airport, coastal national park and relegation-prone Premier League football team on December 30th, and – haway- you have to start all over again on January 1st wrecking forever the bit of green belt next door.
To muddy the debate further I am hereby providing for Chris Grayling or Claire Fox a number of similar true but misleading concrete representations of demographic facts (all figures approximate. Actual figures easily available from the Office of National Statistic website).
If you take the total gross number of migrants, assumed that they had an average height of 1.5m and then laid them head to head they would stretch all the way from Slough to Inverness. That’s just one year. The next year there would be another line from say the Dartford Tunnel to Belfast. In just a few years the whole country could be covered in a cobweb of prone head-to-head people weaving around all the new Newcastle Metro systems and Stottie Cake emporia which will be popping up.
And did you know this: the number of people who die in the UK each year is equivalent to the population of Wiltshire. That’s right. Every year – the whole of Wiltshire wiped our Children of Men style. If current trends continue, then everybody in an entire large-ish English county will die every year from now on until the whole country is entirely empty.
More horror. Every year a population the size of Cornwall (or Leeds, which is about the same) retires. Add together the dead and the retired, then you are just shy of the population of Birmingham. Looked at in terms of economics, being retired is just a more expensive and more wasteful way of being dead anyway. Every year we lose Birmingham to death or economic living death. And yet the EU just sits there and laughs.
There is some comfort in the fact that a population the size of Croydon or Dudley is born every year.
And that must be a great comfort to Chris Grayling. When it comes to UK voters, or future voters at least, there’s one born every minute.