Monday, November 23, 2009

Immigration myths (3): "Overcrowding behind BNP rise"

Part three of our analysis of tabloid-led misconceptions about immigration. Apparently, the far-right is growing because Britain...oops, I mean England, is packed.

When anti-immigration campaigners are presented with comparative figures showing that other EU countries are host to a much higher number of migrants than the UK, they then often resort to the "density factor".

Interestingly, suddenly the focus switches from Britain to England. "We're only a small country", we hear, and the headlines are often accompanied by a picture of a crammed street, better if in Central London. Aside from very small states like Malta, and also the Netherlands, England has the highest density rate in the EU. If you consider the UK, however, Belgium's also more densely populated, while both Germany and Italy are just a little behind.

Yet a man from Düsseldorf will point out that North Rhine, his hugely overcrowded state, is twice more densely populated than Germany and way more than England.

An Italian could say that if you consider Northern Italy only, then the country's density is higher than that of Bahrein. And that if you discount the Alps, which are objectively quite difficult to inhabit en-masse, population density will reach Singapore-levels.

Similarly, a Catalan will tell you that their density is six times higher than Spain's, and so forth. Yorkshire counts more people than Cumbria. Where do you draw the line?

But I'm diverging. The argument you hear is that, while France and Germany have more room, England is overcrowded. Therefore, the rise of the BNP can be explained by this alarming, simple, visible fact.

So let's have a look. Are far-right anti-immigration parties a direct product of high population density? If tomorrow England woke up the size of Russia, would Nick Griffin retire from politics and the BNP die a sudden death?

France, a nation four times the size of England, has long boasted one of the most successful far-right parties in Europe. In 2007, the Front National tallied 11% of the national vote. Its leader Jean Marie Le Pen notoriously qualified for the second round of the French Presidential elections in 2002, netting over 17 per cent of the votes.

Their figures are similar to those of Vlaams Blok, the far-right Flemish nationalists in super overcrowded Belgium.

Italy, the cradle of fascism, is also home to a thriving far-right anti-immigration movement. The country may be getting increasingly densely populated now, but Mussolini's political heirs have regularly won a fair share of MPs since WWII, averaging 6% of the vote at each national election- and that's before, during and after inward migration began in Italy.

Sweden has an incredibly low population density, but with 7.2% according to the latest polls, its far-right party, Sverigedemokraterna, can currently piss all over their German colleagues of the National Democratic Party who scored a rickety 1.8% at last September's general elections.

Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom may have netted 5.9% at the 2006 Dutch national elections protesting that Holland is packed, but Vladimir Zhirinovsky's far-right party in humongous, sparsely-inhabited Russia managed 9.3% at the Presidential elections in 2008.

And back to England (or Britain, depending on the data you're expected to swallow), the BNP gained 192,000 votes at the 2005 general elections, the same as the National Front in 1979, when there were less people and less immigrants around, the EU didn't exist and builders from Eastern Europe were kept in by the iron curtain.

The picture emerging, therefore, is one where overcrowding, population density, centre-right or centre-left governments, the EU and the Muslims all matter very little when it comes to justifying the far-right racist vote.

Read "Immigration myths": PART ONE and PART TWO.


Newmania said...

Part three of our analysis of tabloid-led misconceptions about immigration. Apparently, the far-right is growing because Britain...oops, I mean England, is packed.

Getting to you am I ?

I think at a time when Scotland is almost certainly in need of more inward migration has its own Parliament and a range of administrative competencies it is not unreasonable to call it a country ? Are you suggesting it is not , if so do please mention it to the Scots , they love that
It is not so much crammed Streets as housing costs jobs education and resources that are the issue also economic benefit which has been agreed as nothing by the House of Lords. The type of immigration and birthrates and emigration on the rate of change are all important factors you have ignored.

This is a very different picture in this country most comparable with France but much much more crowded
Your point about regions is a fair one to consider but to deny that England is country is not . Whilst the UK is formally still linked as a unit as an ethnic identity its only meaning was as Greater England hence the dislike the Scots have for it . That meaning is gone
Where do you draw the line , well you draw it so as to encourage more immigration and I draws it so as to describe the truth . I have given you the figures on London and the South East, you have no answer

As far as far right groups on the Continent are concerned I agree with you this is a remarkably tolerant country far far more so than its neighbours who you are so keen for us to be ruled by. So your whole theory that this is a country unreasonably panicking about immigration only “In line with Europe “ is by your own admission a inversion of the truth
This is a very tolerant country into undergoing break neck change into scarce housing and resources with no economic gain and enormous costs to society not least having to listen to New Labour parrots telling we have to stay in Afghanistan to stop terrorists from Yorkshire.

If you are claiming that this is despite Nationalist media bias then I would ask you to explain how it is that the Editor of social affairs in by far the most important media corporation for years in the 90s was Polly Toynbee

Can you imagine what you would be saying if her opposite number, shall we say Norman Tebbit , had been publicly financed to propagandise for years ...

claude said...

You rfallacy exposed.
While it is true that when "administrative competencies" are explained Scotland is always considered separately (so why not for immigration, I'm with you there)...then when migration is considered Wales magically vanishes.

Normally it's always "England & Wales", from housing to education, to crime.

But when the Daily Mail wants to tell you how OVERCROWDED we are, then it becomes just England. I wonder why.

As for the the South East, East Sussex should share some of the burden. Surrey is way more overcrowded. tut!

Newmania said...

But when the Daily Mail wants to tell you how OVERCROWDED we are, then it becomes just England. I wonder why.

England is the country experiencing the inward migration. The devolved countries have the opposite problem .In a discussion of immigration I therefore t seems a perfectly reasonable unit to take England as a unit . I am , may I remind you talking to people who gleefully include Monaco in the list of more crowded countries above England .
Why do you not include Japan in your list of prosperous countries ? Happy to bung it in when pretending we are not bankrupt .... what is your agenda , as if I didn’t know

claude said...

And then when you reliase that England doesn't actually "top the charts", you use South-East for added weight.

You are guilty of Anglo-centrism.

Because either you are objective and consistent in using selective "regions" as terms of reference, or you're not. You can't do pick'n'mix as it suits you.

Like I said yesterday, Germany is a Federal Republic. It has Federal States with their own parliaments. Hence, legally and politically they are more 'independent', so to speak, than England.

I bet that if the Daily Mail existed in Deutschland, their "overcrowding" table would have a breakdown of all their Landers mentioned separately to make it look more dramatic, because surely a number of them would top the table and make the South East look like the Gobi desert by comparison.

Spain too. It has Catalonia and the Basque Country which have a higher degree of autonomy than Scotland. Especially the Basques. Their population density is quite high, remarkably higher than Spain.

It's fine by me if you wanna start mentioning England/South East/Croydon/Clapham Common, but just do it with every country then.

BTW, I didn't mention Japan cos I can openly tell you that I know fuckall about Japan, literally ZERO, so I didn't want to talk about something I know absolutely nowt about. As simple as that. No conspiratorial agenda.

For the record, you waste your time if you keep implying I'm a New Labour voter or sympathiser. I'm not.

Newmania said...

Japan has nil net inward migration. Ooops now you know
Ok Take German Lander excluding cities they are far far far less densely populated than England this is after all the Central plain and there is a more even spread.( Thats why you like to get those mountains in)
If I compare London and the SE with Brandenburg and Berlin just to bend over backwards to be reasonable .....
London and SE – Pop 16,000,000 area 20440 km2- 782 per km2
Berlin and Brandenburg Pop 5954000 area 30371 - 196 per km2

You begin to see the problem and as you have pointed out we are less bothered not more than the other countries you think are ssoooo much better than this one
You think this is all about Alf Garnett or some update of the Establishment stereotype of a bigot ,it is not .
Its about housing costs , its about communties its about schools jobs and the wish of the state and super state to break down every loyalty that is not its to control.

You are the dupe not the Daily Mail reader who takes it all with a pinch of salt anyway

claude said...

You are being selective. Again.

You shouldn't take London/SE vs Brandenburg. It doesn't have a leg to stand on. If anything because Berlin is placed in the middle of a relatively sparsely populated area.

What is London/SE? Is it an administrative region? Why not London/SE/West Midlands then?

"London/SE" doesn't exist. It's a convenientfigment of your and the Daily Mail's imagination.

But, I give you that, hats off to you, you'd make an excellent DAILY MAIL REPORTER the way you massage figures to make them fit around political pointscoring.

Nine official regions of England were designated in 1994 (purely for statistical purposes, they have no administrative meaning, hence not comparable to any German Lander).

There is London. There is -SEPARATE- "the South East".

Incidentally, the population density in the South East is 419/km².

The obvious equivalent to a German Lander (federal state) is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Looking at the most densely populated German STATES, there are Saarland and North Rhine.

North Rhine=528.3/km2
Saarland= 404.5/km2.
England= 395/km2

Then look at the Netherlands:
Noord Holland=978km2;
Utrecht= 860km2;

Now...back to the point.
Two things:

1) "the other countries you think are ssoooo much better than this one"..."You are the dupe"
You are tiresome, Newmania. Why do you have to come up with crap like that? Can't you just have a civilised debate?

I actually don't think any of those countries are any "better" or "worse" than Britain. It's a futile thing to think anyway. Each to their own and all that.

If anything it's people like you and your Daily Mail or Sun heroes who constantly talk this country down.

You pick up a copy of either and you really think Britain's gone tits up completely, bursting at the seams with paedophiles, drive-by shootings, ferocious lesbian dogs, randy gays who die for being gay, evil asylum seekers (who only want to go to Britain) and all the rest.

2) I have no political partisanship or affiliation whatsoever. You do though, as you've been repeating comment after comment. You are a proud Tory. Fair enough.

But while I have no problem admitting that with immigration come issues of social cohesion and exploitation (this blog is full of stuff I wrote about it and I think the government needs to urgently find ways of improving that), I have the feeling you are biased.

I'm not interested in hysterical, distorted, manipulated headlines and myths, but you seem very much into stuff like "the-Tories-are-better-than-Labour" and "we-are-blue-we-are-white-you-are-villa-youre-shite".

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I find these right-wing trolls quite odd, don't you Claude?

Left Outside said...

I'm enjoying this series. It has partially inspired me to write a post looking a the breakdown of population by country and the mythical coming disaster of the 70 million population.

Check it out.

Simon said...

Very interesting series, thanks for publishing.

Newmania: I haven't read your comments, so I don't know if I agree or not. What I do know is that I really, really wish you would use punctuation properly. I can't tell easily what you are quoting, when you ask questions or where your sentences end. People would find your arguments easier to follow that way! Please sort this out!