A new Ipsos MORI poll in the Sun has topline voting intentions of CON 40%, LAB 35%, LDEM 13%. This is in contrast to a MORI poll a week ago which showed Labour back up above 40%, ahead of the Conservatives. The five point Tory lead is the largest MORI have given them since back in April.

This poll was conducted over the telephone, rather than face-to-face like MORI’s standard monthly polls – MORI take the view that there is no systemic difference between voting intention figures from their phone polls and their face-to-face polls and, taking them at their word, I normally draw comparisons from the most recent MORI poll whatever the sampling method used. Compared to the last MORI face to face poll the changes are the Conservatives and Lib Dems steady, but Labour down 6 and the ‘other parties’ up 6. Compared to the MORI poll a fortnight before that, conducted over the phone, the changes are the Conservatives down 1, Labour down 3 and the Lib Dems up 2. I needs a better look, but on the surface I rather suspect the sampling method is making a difference somewhere along the line.

The rest of the poll asked a series of questions on immigration. MORI found deep dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of immigration, 72% of people were disatisfied with only 15% satisfied. 64% of people though laws on immigration should be tougher, not counting the 12% who wanted it stopped altogether. 68% thought there were too many immigrants in Britain.

Overall though a lot of the answers seemed a but confused… 48% of people thought that immigration in general was good for Britain, compared to 36% who disagreed. Asked if immigrants were having a good or bad influence on the way things are going in Great Britain though, only 34% said good and 52% said bad. The only answer I can think of to the apprantly contradiction is that the second question specifically prompted people to consider both legal and illegal immigration.

In their own area most people said immigrants had not had much positive or negative effect – only 15% believed immigration was creating problems in their own area. Most people did not think immigrants were more likely to commit crime either, only 24% did – and this question was again prompted to make people consider both illegal and illegal immigration. A large proportion of people also thought that immigrants worked harder than people born here – 45% agreed. Only 8% said they thought they worked less hard, suggesting the vast majority of people don’t actually believe the stereotype of a scrounging immigrant coming here for state benefits.

So, most people don’t think immigrants cause problems, don’t think they cause crime and don’t think they are layabouts (or at least, are not willing to admit thinking any of these things to an interviewer, which is not necessarily the same thing as not thinking them). Where the public did express fears was over pressure on public services: 82% of people thought that education and healthcare services would not be able to cope with rising population from immigration.

88 Responses to “Ipsos MORI on immigration”

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  1. Philip Thompson

    The point of stopping it is , as I have indicated, to keep a reasonable balance ( whatever that may defined as) between urban sprawl & related infrastructure-and countryside -ie quality of life.

    How many people is too many people? If your answer is there is no limit then I disagree.If you agree that their may be a limit then it has to be defined.

  2. There are two sperate issues that seem to be getting muddled here and a few people quite frankly going off the rails.

    Firstly lets look at the demographic challenges.

    Behind all the talk of immigration, what we are seeing is a change from the recnet past where our population has been relatively balanced, between immigration and migration.

    Up until the new entrants to the EU, principally Poland, the numbers entering was balanced by the numbers leaving. However, we still needed more homes.

    The two things driving this were household size and life expectancy.

    Take glasgow as an example it now has a population of about 650,000 when a generation or so ago it was close to 1 million. So have 300,000 houses been pulled down?

    Of course not but if in the fifties you averaged 4 people to a house you needed 250,000 houses in glasgow. If you now have 2.5 people to a house then 250,000 houses gives you a population of 625,000.

    Longevity is another factor. A very simplified way to see it is this. If people live to be 60 then and get there house when they are 20, it comes on the market every 40 years. If they now live to be 80, it’s every 60 years so to maintain the same turn over you need 25% more housing.

    This has all been compounded by things like RtB, where the debt issue has effectively stopped Councils building houses. This has meant supply has dropped while demand has risen, and the private sector has built to meet demand rather than need.

    The overall effect of this is that middle income people have had a bonanza while people on low incomes have been increasingly marginalisied. It is in these areas of low income where the tension is highest where you tend to get immigrants looking for cheap property.

    Thus the tension at the lower end of the housing market where demand outstrips supply but where people can’t afford the rising prices. We also get BtoR where at the same time as the number with no homes rises so to does the number who own two or more.

    This has to be tackled long term, and what the current influx from the EU highlights is how we have been sleepwalking as our society fundamentally changes. But it’s not the fault of immigrants, as they haven’t so much created the issue as brought it to our attention.

    Stopping immigration might help in some way but it won’t address the problem that we don’t have enough affordable housing. At present the people coming in are boosting the economy and are net contributers, which means we should be in a position to expand housing.

    But if we didn’t have them we would still have a move to fewer people per house and an aging population with those most in need earning less than immigrants in work.

    In the long term we need to look at how we house people and look after them. By 2050 the number of older people will be a real issue and who is going to look after them.

    We need a better pension system with people putting money away like Australia and ideally a lot more young people.

    However the problem is that the Poles and others coming in now in their 20’s, will be nearly 60 in 2050, so rather than the solution they may be part of the problem.

    Now what if we ask the young in the next half of the century to pay for that through tax?, They may well decide to say

    ” Cold, wet high tax Britain, to hell with that I am going to live in warm sunny low tax Croatia”.

    Here in the Highlands the population in and around inverness has been growing for over adecade, but in Sutherland it has been falling and as it’s mostly young people who are leaving the average age has gone up and up. As a council we are struggling to find, let alone pay people to do homa care in a remote area.

    That could well be the fture for huge parts of rural Britain.

    In health and Social work, as with many low paid occupations, migrants are providing care and services at a cost we can afford. Get rid of them and the cost of care and the taxes to pay for it go through the roof and the number in work expected to pay for it rises.

    Again back in the fifties when people left school at 14, they worked all there lives and usually retire at 65 and died at 70. That’s 50 years working and 5 retired. So (extremely simplified) if you put away 5% of your wages every year, you could have 50% of your wages in retirement.

    Now a lot of us are effectively entering the labour market at 20, want to retire at 60 and expect to live to at least 80. Thats 40 years at work to pay for 20 retired. So if you want 50% earnings you bettter start to put away 25% every year.

    Long term challenges that need serious political debate and a national concensus. So what are we getting…..we’ll thats the losing your heads bit.

    We’re are getting petty mud slinging, and name calling and a knee jerk reaction to the recent period of rapid migration, as politicians react to peoples immedite concerns.

    But then if you have effectively a two party FPTP system with both parties obsessed with spin and PR what do you expect.

    For me this highlights a fundamental flaw in the way we plan for the future, where as it seems for most posters here it is just an opportunity to apportion blame and take cheap shots, mostly ending with,

    “It’s all your parties fault and mine would put it right”.

    If what we’ve seen here in what is generally a thoughtful and retrained forum is an indication of how Britain is going to address this then all we’ll get is more of the same.

    It will be a period of rapid migration followed by hysteria and putting the breaks on before the cycle starts again with no one ever planning any further ahead than the next election ( or indeed poll).


  3. Colin –

    I agree that immigration numbers should be monitored, along with other demographic statistics such as the number of “non-income generators”, but the question of actual numerical limits ceases to be necessary if one focusses entirely on the supportibility factors rather than the actual numbers.

    Clearly, it is “unfair” (I expect to hear that word from Cameron about lots of issues”) for non-English speaking immigrant children to take up the majority of resources in the education system to learn English, and I’m sure there are more and better examples of instability caused by lack of controls/”fairness”. NHS services probably feature too.

    I live in a high-immigrant area, and I don’t spend time in the queue at the supermarket wishing there were fewer immigrants in the queue ahead of me.

    From a philosophical viewpoint, I’m glad that some people on the left and right of centre are in favour of open borders. The problem lies in the notion of “handouts”, the perception that our hospitality is abused.

    If all sides can address immigration through the issues of equitable supply of and payment for services then the debate is cleaned of rascism. The argument over the is more acceptable has surely gone?

    There must be at leaast a few simple steps towards a “fairer” system (I’d include compulsory language teaching, and limitting of benefits according to length of stay/previous NI contributions), plus some sort of social contract that allowed the deportation of those convicted of imprisonable offences within the first few years.

    I hope we all agree the if you’re in favour of freedom, then you can’t restrict it unduly to those who were born here.

  4. “the argument over the acceptability of one ethnicity over another is surely gone” I meant.

  5. As to the minor furore over the PPC who has resigned, I would quickly point out that he was not sacked. He was asked by Spelman to apologise and he said that he would not because he was not sorry for what he said. The problem for the Tory leadership is inherent in the PPC’s response. He thinks Enoch Powell was right and, indeed, so does much of the party nationally. There is of course a perfectly intellectual argument to be made for what Powell said and I am quite sure that there are some here who would defend it. Cameron’s problem is that he is too frightened to do so for fear of being labelled racist. His calculation is that those who believe in what Powell said, will vote Tory anyway because Cameron perceives their desperation for government to be greater than their beliefs on this issue. In that regard, I suspect he is right.

    My view is that what Powell did wrong was not his warning as to the potential effects of immigration but the choice of language he adopted. As a highly intelligent man he knew full well what the consequences would be of using terms such as “rivers of blood”. It was designed to shock and it did. If he had wanted a sensible, calm and rational debate on the subject, he could have called for one without intentionally raising fears. That was his crime.

    As to the current debate on immigration, I will stay judgment until we have some idea of what Cameron’s policy on immigration will be. Thus far, all we know is that he will reduce the level of immigration which is as meaningful as saying that he will cut taxes or make everyone happier. Until we know by how much he intends to reduce immigration, how he intends to implement that policy and how he will pay for it, it is an academic debate.

  6. John T
    I concur with your thoughts on improving the integration of immigrants on a basis which might be seen as fair.
    It seems to me that all immigrants tend to live together-at least initially. This is as true for Brits in Spain as for Poles & Bangladeshis etc in UK. It may be unavoidable but it does make integration more difficult.
    As we begin to see the mistakes of multiculturalism’s insistance on “celebrating” difference, and move to the ideas of shared values in a British context, perhaps the tendency for the symptoms of social pressures to be expressed in ethnic terms will fade?

    I don’t agree that unfettered, uncontrolled, illimited immigration is sensible or desirable-for the reasons I have given.

    I believe that conservation of the Natural Heritage is as important for the well being of humans as it is for the retention of biodiversity of wild species & habitats. These, once lost under the next swathe of concrete are gone forever.

    Controlling where possible the density & location of the human population on these small islands is important in that context-and it feeds into the democratic rights of people to a say in the way their locality & community changes over time.

    The issue as you rightly say involves “fairness”-but also “consent” in my view.

  7. Please could both sides stop with this ridiculous arguing about who is most racist. It should be perfectly obvious that Nigel Hastilow has been disciplined for his comments so they are not official Tory policy and were rather less provocative than is being implied anyway.

    On the other side I think I’m going to just about explode the next time I hear someone compare Gordon to the BNP or say “British Jobs for British workers” is illegal under EU law. I’m British – I have a British job. It’s not illegal! It’s only “No British jobs for Non-British workers” Which would be illegal.

    Rant over. :o)

  8. Warren

    The point made on Question Time not well-made – it was foolish and glib. The ageing British living abroad are not much of a charge on Britain except for pensions that they contributed to and worked for. They are a nett contributor of capital to, and employers of labour in, their host countries.

    I remain to be convinced that my point made earlier about the overall tax profile of immigrant workers is incorrect. I was not so naive as to overlook that someone would seize it and point out that there are many Asian doctors here. I have heard the assertion many times and it varies from a nett contribution of £5-billion a year to a ridiculous claim of £40-billion annually – those all from Labour politicians or immigrant interest groups.

    I realise that statistics that come from the Government are essentially worthless guesses but if the information is availabe from an unimpeachable source then let us have it published. I would be satified if Inland Revenue told us but, of course, I know that they keep no such statistics. DWP has shown that its grasp on figures is a bit shaky but I suppose that somewhere they have the figures of benefits paid out to foreign-born people. Have they ever published them?

  9. Jack,

    The latest NewsPoll [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/files/newspoll-6nov.pdf] has, for the two party preferred vote, the ALP on 53% (-1) and the Coalition on 47% (+1). The Coalition can on around 48% of the vote because the ALP’s vote is more concentrated than the Coalition’s.

  10. Colin – I’m with you on the preservation of “National Heritage”, but probably disagree on what are its most important components.

    I loathe the word “unfettered” – it suggests that “fettered” should be regarded as better, and I find that verb inhumane.

    Celebrating difference is a hman instinct, and really ought not to be a Government policy! Far too dogmatic and impersonal.

  11. Hi John-
    re your typo(?)-I said-and was refering to Natural Heritage ie-Natural habitat & the species which rely on them.. You may have misunderstood me ?

    A point well made re British Expats. It might also have been said that if 1.5 million did return home & 1.5 immigrants also ,as in the Question Time illustration-then 1.5 million of our “workless but able to work” might have come off benefit and into work.

    There are 5 million said to be in this category. This really is a nonsense piece of economics when their unqualifiedness or reluctance to take jobs is compensated for by immigration.The net result would appear to be loss to the Exchequer in benefit payments plus pressure on housing & public services from immigration.

    This topic reaches out into the effectiveness of education , vocational training, policy on benefit payments etc.

  12. Colin – It wasn’t a typo, I did mis-read you! I don’t want to get into an exchange about bio-diversity further than to say I don’t believe our existence as a species is threatened by over-population in these islands as much as by over-exploitation of natural resources on a global scale-An extra 10million dis / re-placed here or there pales when compared with an extra 2 billion overall.

  13. John T

    Agreement at last-absolutely agree!. Global population growth & forecast growth, particularly in Africa/Asia/China is the elephant in the room.

    It is destroying natural habitat at a frightening rate ( and as you say consuming resources of every kind).I am far more concerned about that than the fate of homo-sapiens.

    In the Sunday Times Sir Andrew Green gave the opinion that immigration from the EU accession countries would tail off and level out for two reasons -1) Economic opportunites will improve back home. 2) Germany , France & other EU members have closed their borders to accession countries till ( I think) 2011-they will then take their share.

    Green points to the huge population growth forecast for developing countries, and claims that this is where the great tide of global migration will emanate from.We will not be immune .

  14. The vast majority of the people in this country including the membership of all three main parties are not racist but they have long been denied a mature debate on the subject of immigration by the howlings of the politically correct mob on one hand and by the xenophobic utterances of unreconsructed facists on the other hand.Disregarding remote hilly areas like the Highlands-sorry Peter Cairns-we are clearly a very overcrowded little island and it simply does’nt make sense to have an ‘open doors’ policy. A balance has to be struck between allowing enough people in to do the jobs we seem to be unwilling to do ourselves-but perhaps nevertheless persuading a few of the indigenous workshy to get on their bikes-and keeping the incoming numbers under control. That is not the position today and if-for fear of being tagged racist- the main opposition party cannot come up with policies to address this issue as with any other then the void will be filled by those with far less scruples. That is the lesson we should by now have learned from history.

  15. British electors are not at all confused about immigration. They’re better informed than the politicians. As I understand it, the popular consensus is that in theory immigration could bring the United Kingdom benefits, but that there are insuperable problems, notably the provision of social facilities like housing and transport, that make anything more than minimal immigration (e.g. genuine, repeat genuine, asylum seekers, genuine brides/bridegrooms and genuinely time-limited interchange of staff within international companies) impracticable in the UK now or for the forseeable future. This view is far more sensible than politicians who kowtow to managers wanting short-term financial gain, regardless of the broader social costs, instead of providing proper opportunities for United Kingdom people, of whatever background. The grotesque situation of UK medical graduates being unable to find posts, and very highly qualified school leavers not getting into medical school in the first place, whilst more senior doctors from abroad get work permits is just an extreme example of what is going on, and has been going on for decades.

    If the country, or more specifically the parts of the country in which immgrants congregate, is full then it is full. You can’t with integrity start favouring people from one nation as opposed to another (let alone discriminate depending on their appearance)or by having points based systems for people managers would like in the short-term because the nation has not been competent enough to plan its labour resources strategically. That is not to say that labour movement should not be as free as possible between nations where the movements will not be impossibly one-way (and don’t forget skilled pople entering the UK to work are not using their skills wherever they come from).

    I recollect that Michael Portillo, who is by no means a racist, has observed on “This Week” that the electorate has not been offered a choice of policies on immigration (because people and party members who differ from the establishment get tarred as racist, although he did not say so). Politicians wishing to disregard the views of electors as a result get away with far too much. For instance, I recollect on “Question Time” some weeks ago panellists claiming that extra houses for the predicted population would only take up 2% of our land. Maybe so, but our total land area includes the huge proportion of the land which is in places like the Highlands of Scotland, and it overlooks that the land surrounding towns which is built on is often the best agricultural land. But I don’t recollect the point being challenged.

    The 72% dissatisfaction with immigration policy reflects a Pandora’s Box that Labour has been sitting on, and it is likely to become a running sore for them that will not go away. I suspect that this is the more so because the 36% who disagree that immigration is good in general are more likely to change their votes (if only between right-wing parties) than the 48% who agree.

    It is also the case that key marginals with which I am acquainted, such as Sheppey, The Wrekin and South Ribble, are seats which are particularly likely to be affected by consequences of immigration such as excessive house building. If Cameron continues to highlight the problems of immigration whilst, rightly, emphasising that these issues are different from race questions, Labour will be in trouble if the Government is seen in this area as being incompetent, cynical, and putting interests other than those of the electors first. These are the perceptions the Polls currently suggest, however regretable they may be for non-political as well as political reasons.

    P.S. I did not see the “Question Time” about ex-pats, but there is a whole complex of issues relating to the export of British capital, rather than its reinvestment in particular to meet the needs of global warming, that needs separate consideration. In particular, from the point of view of this site postal votes by ex-pats, to which I am opposed for reasons including the impossibility of ensuring that such votes are cast secretly and fairly in accordance with proper procedures, raise important questions.

  16. I have to say reading through this is turning out to be the most depressing tread I’ve come across since this polling report started, and they say Scots are whingers……..


  17. “Overall though a lot of the answers seemed a but confused…”

    …as were the questions.

  18. Warren

    I can tell you that in so far as the “human face” is of failed asylum seekers children long settled at Glasgow Schools it is a hot issue here. The former coalition leader (a decent man and a former teacher) thought he had got a deal, but was let down by his Westminster party colleagues.

    In that respect there is much in common with the other issues which led to the SNP victory, as there was with the running of the campaign itself.

  19. Fred S.Your comments are right on the button. The only point you dont mention relates to safety and security, a prime rsponsibility of government. It is this which leads to nervousness about immigration. Policy(such as it is) over the last 15 years has lead to the ambivalent attitude of the electorate.Unfortunately,as I said before,a differential policy on immigration cannot be debated without accusations of racism,or,in the case of Peter Cairns,of whingeing.Perhaps he can suggest how informed discussion-and poll voting- can take place without detailed information on the problem of security.

  20. I really get tired of the ‘immigration’ issue; mainly as it is confused between refugees and legal migration.

    I get very annoyed as no-one considers it the other way; I wonder how the people in Spain / France / Australia see the impact of old Brits clogging up their health systems, taking away their jobs, lifting local real estate prices to record levels etc… I wonder what the impact would be if the idiots who say ban all migration realised the other impact which ought to be that Brits overseas had to come home; that’d clog up the housing market / NHS / skew the job market etc.. yes, folks migrants do come to the UK and many Brits migrate to other countries.

    And let’s not forget that amigration adds much more to the economy than it takes out and that children of migrants do better, on average, than local children. Why? Migrants do the dirty jobs that locals do not do as they make a positive move to change countries so their children will have chances they didn’t so they care about their children and oversee their education. This is true on research from all over the world. But too many English just can’t handle the change.

    Go see a real multi-cultural country such as Australia. Stand in the middle of Sydney and see the complete ethnic diversity. England really is a white Anglo-Saxon country with a couple of pockets of ethnic diversity although it likes to believe that it is multi-cultural.

    Sorry, I know this is a bit of a whinge and this should be for poll discussion but I just got very depressed reading too many of the comments.

  21. So Peter Cairns thinks the English are whinging? You can always rely on the Scot Nats to get in a dig at us somwhere along the line. Must be something to do with the more ‘caring society’ they claim exists north of the border but which in 22 years of living there I have unaccountably failed to discover.And whilst along with Peter Cairns the vast majority of Scots are no more racist than or indeed about the English some of a certain political persuasion just cannot resist making points tinged with racist innuendo. It started out with sly references to the number of black players in the English football team graduated to sniggers about not having seen a single white man on the tube back to Heathrow and has now reached the point where they openly boast about the relative lack of black or colored people in their midst as compared to England. I happen to think that the English have managed to build a remarkably tolerant and well intergrated multi racial society-it is a pity some Scots see fit to sneer at us for our efforts.

  22. Nick,

    I wasn’t commenting on the English but rather this blog which seemed to be getting more and more hysterical.

    The amount of immigration in to England isn’t at the crisis level people suggest and as I made clear it has highlighted a lack of UK long term planning, not caused it. Nor did I point out that Scotland is different.

    If you look at the Scottish results concern about immigration has grown here too, but it still lags behind the UK and other things are higher. The fact that Scotland has different prriorities doesn’t make us smug or better, just different.

    I don’t think we are any more caring but what we have had is a falling population and no real large scale immigration since the the sixties.

    The effect of that is that Scotland has had far longer to get used to it’s immigrant population and with a need to expand the population has been fairly laid back about recent EU immigrants, although that has become more of an issue in the last year or two.

    Actually one thing that has held any resentment in check has been that there is a strong historic link between Poland and Scotland. During WW2 the Poles were based in Scotland ( I think their HQ was in fife) and in effect defended the country.

    At the end of the war a lot of Poles decided to stay rather than return to live under Stalin ( who wouldn’t) so for the last fifty years or so Scotland has had a large Polish community.

    In addition Scotlands asian population is distinct in that it is more middle class than in England and we really didn’t have any major immigration from the Carribean. Going back to the start of the century Scotland had an influx of italians predominantly from NW italy, who integrated very well.

    All this explains how by default rather than planning Scotland has had a lower pace and scale of immigration. In some respects we have been lucky because we haven’t suffered from that lack of planning.

    here’s something to help the debate… facts…. From the ONS

    UK population grows to
    60,587,000 in mid-2006

    Coverage United Kingdom
    Theme Population and Migration

    The population of the United Kingdom was 60,587,000 in mid-
    2006, an increase of 349,000 (0.6 per cent) on mid-2005,
    according to new statistics published today by the Office for
    National Statistics. In the five years since 2001, population has
    increased by an average 0.5 per cent per year.

    The latest increase was smaller than the 393,000 rise (0.7 per
    cent) in the previous year.

    Increases in births, decreases deaths and changes in the pattern
    of international migration into and out of the United Kingdom have
    all contributed to population growth since 2001.

    Overall, migration and other related changes accounted for 55 per
    cent of population growth in the year to mid-2006, compared with
    68 per cent in the previous year and 71 per cent in the year to mid

    Contribution of births and deaths

    Natural change (the difference between births and deaths) has
    increased and contributed 159,000 to population growth in the
    year to mid-2006, 127,000 in the previous year and 62,000 in the
    year to mid-2002.

    Births in each yearincreased from 663,000 in the year to mid-2002 to 734,000 in the year to mid-2006 while deaths decreased in the same period, from 601,000 to 575,000.

    In the year to mid-2006, the flow of long term migrants into
    the UK was 574,000. This was 25,000 lower than in the
    previous year, but 38,000 higher than in the year to mid-

    Long term migration from the UK reached 385,000 in the
    year to mid-2006, the highest figure since the introduction
    of the current indicator in 1991. This was 49,000 more than
    in the previous year, but only 34,000 more than in the year
    to mid-2004.

    Net international migration (the difference between long
    term migration into and out of the UK) was 189,000 in
    2006. While this was 73,000 less than in the previous year
    (262,000), it was similar to the mid-2004 figure (185,000)
    and 41,000 higher than the figure for the year to mid 2002

    Estimates of Total International Migration by citizenship
    show that the change in long term migrant numbers between
    2005 and 2006 varied by citizenship and direction of migration:

    Migration levels to the UK by British and other EU citizens
    were similar in the years to mid 2005 and mid 2006. The
    main decreases between 2005 and 2006 were for
    Commonwealth citizens (down 23,000 to 179,000) and
    Other Foreign Nationals (down 17,000 to 140,000).

    The main increases in migration from the UK between
    2005 and 2006 occurred among non-British EU citizens
    (up 20,000 to 62,000) and Other Foreign Nationals (up
    18,000 to 65,000).

    Mid-year population estimates relate to the usually resident
    population, which includes long term international migrants.

    ONS international migration figures are based on the UN
    recommended definition of a long term migrant – someone
    changing their country of usual residence for at least a year.

    They do not include people who come to the UK for less than a year.
    These are referred to as short term migrants and are not included
    in the usually resident population estimates. ONS has published
    plans for developing estimates of short term migrants, including
    the release of national estimates in October 2007. The short term
    migration estimates will supplement existing population statistics.

    Other key points

    The UK population is ageing. In the year to mid-2006, the largest
    percentage growth in population was at ages 85 and over (6 per
    cent) and the number in this age group reached a record
    1,243,000. The number of people of retirement age increased by
    1 per cent, to 11,344,000, and the number at working ages
    increased by 0.8 per cent, to 37,710,000. The number aged under
    16 decreased by 0.4 per cent to 11,537,000 people.

    Population growth rates varied within the United Kingdom.

    In the year to mid-2006, growth was fastest in Northern Ireland, at 1 per
    cent (to 1,742,000 people). Growth was slowest in Wales, with an
    increase of 0.4 per cent to 2,966,000, similar to Scotland with
    growth of 0.4 per cent to 5,117,000. The population of England
    grew by 0.6 per cent to 50,763,000. This pattern is consistent with
    the previous year where the greatest growth was also seen in
    Northern Ireland.

    Within England, all regions showed an increase in population.
    The biggest percentage increases, of 0.8 per cent, were in the
    East Midlands, East and London.

    The population estimates published today also include estimates
    for all local authorities in the UK together with Strategic Health
    Authority areas in England.

    In England and Wales there were five local authority areas where
    the population increased by 11 per cent or more over the five
    years since 2001 (Westminster, Camden, South
    Northamptonshire, Forest Heath and Rutland).

    In the same period the largest reductions in local authority population in England and Wales were around 2 per cent and occurred in Rushmoor,
    Middlesbrough, Sefton and Burnley.

    The estimates released today incorporate the improved methods
    for estimating international migration, announced on 24 April
    2007 as well as the refinements announced on 24 July. ”

    The ONS experimental breakdown of ethnicity in 2001 (the best figure we have) has Englands population at 49,449,700 of which 42,925,800 described themselves as White English, which on my calculation is 87%.

    All the above doesn’t read like a country with a real problem with immigration. It does have very high immigration to a few areas and given a lack of affordable housing that causes problems in those areas.

    I find it hard to come to terms with a situation where 17 out of 20 are traditional white British but where posters on here think the country is being swamped and their culture or heritage in danger.

    As I said I was depressed by the comments on here which to be honest hardy reflect a “remarkably tolerant and well integrated multi racial society”.

    Actually think that by and large England and in particularly London have handled large scale migration (in and out) very well, but that isn’t reflected in the comments here.

    As to us being whingers, we’re always being called whingers, but just as we are no less racist or any more caring, we don’t complain any more than anyone else. What we do have is a distinct culture and a sense of ourselves and here we view ourselves as a minority in Britain.

    Who knows, maybe Scots feeling like foreigners in the UK makes us less threatened by immigration.


  23. Peter:-
    “posters on here think the country is being swamped and their culture or heritage in danger”

    I don’t recall anyone saying that-which posts are you refering to?

    If you are refering to mine-I repeat-loudly- I referred to NATURAL HERITAGE ( as opposed to Built & Cultural)-ie Natural habitats & wildlife, wild places, open places-countryside.Population increase worldwide is destroying it .

    Here’s another set of statistics:-

    Population density -people per sq km 2006:-
    England 390
    Scotland 66

    Source ONS who forecast that in the next 25 years ten million new people will occupy UK-an increase of 16%. Around half of this increase will be as a direct result of immigration.

  24. Colin,

    I wasn’t taking issue with you, just he general tone which seems to be based on current headline figures of “X” thousand, as opposed to 0.5% population increase when the turnover (as a share of in and out) is about 2% and may well have peaked already.

    Also the ONS figures like the ones that sparked this aren’t predictions at all they are projections, they say where we will be if this continues indefinitely in to the future, and that’s extremely unlikely.

    This is a good piece by Evan Davis.


    The population density in England is 390 compared to 66 in Scotland, but that hides as much as it shows.

    The population density of Glasgow is over 4,000 per Km2, in Cumbria it’s only 73 per Km2. To use national statistic as a comparison without looking at the distribution within each country them is daft.

    Apart from anything else between 40% to 60% of Scotlands land area is irrelevant as it’s pretty much physically let alone economically uninhabitable ( the same can be said for Cumbria and much of Northern England).

    Anyone for a house with no road access,water or electricity on a 45deg slope 3 thousand feet up the side of a mountain…..

    I remember having an argument with someone in the SNP who wanted to massively expand forestry and who pointed to a map of the huge open spaces in Scotland.

    I showed him the land catagory map which showed that for timber amost two thirds of Scotland was classed as type 5 or 6, trees either wouldn’t grow their or would be of such poor quality they would cost more to harvest than they were worth.

    The best land in catagory 2 was in fife, but that was also scotlands best arable land, and ploughing up fields to plant tree was as daft as planting them on mountain tops.

    If we are going to take this seriously we need more than “England is Full”

    The popultion rising be 8% due to immigration over 25 years is only about 0.3% a year and it’s mostly young people of child baring age.

    Given that without them you’ll have 0.3% anyway and that it will largely be due to longevity and an aging less active population I’d say that not bringing in migrants has it’s own problems.

    My main criticisms in this whole argument have been that the UK doesn’t plan well for the future and that people are blowing this out of proportion. Every time we allow migration on an scale we get boom and bust without any long term strategy.

    With the government allowed the boom we now have everyone clamouring for the breaks to be slammed on, which is exactly the kind of narrow short termism that I think has caused the problem.

    For all the Tories seem to be complaining the most over the last ten years it’s exactly the sort of hands off Neo-liberalism and free market approach they favour that has got us here.

    Let people get on their bikes and the market will sort it out , without the dead hand of the state is straight Norman Tebbit.

    What I think we should have is a well thought out consensual population policy, but we’re unlikely to get that with everyone running around like Chicken Little saying “the sky is falling”.


  25. I don’t think the UK’s culture or heritage are in danger either. They are susceptible to changes which in my view are all part of what culture and heritage are about.

    Jack refers to Sydney – he might as well have been talking about the London I’ve kown for many years.

    The only depressing things I find is that higher immigration is generally regarded as wrong per se, that we should put “keep out” notices around our borders, and that the discussion tends toward the decadent.

    We’re lucky here, and should focus a little more on the problems in the parts of the world that face real struggle.

  26. A follow on article from today’s Scotsman (07/11/07, Yes in know interesting and the scotsman seems a contradiction in terms but there you go. I should add that the comments section is as violent and istrurbing as usuall and not for the delicate.



  27. Peter

    My population density figures were to point up the general differences between the two countries.
    You cannot possibly have an objective viewpoint on the urbanisation occurring in places like NE Kent, and Cambridgeshire from the vantage point of The Black Isle.

    Of course there is what you so interestingly describe as “economically uninhabitable” land in both countries.I say thank god for it too. We don’t “inhabit” every bit of land available-nor should we try to.

    Landscape-particularly wild landscape is very important for the well being of people and is neccessary to support the natural bio-diversity .

    You are fortunate in Scotland to have so much.
    It’s geographical characteristics as you say precludes building. Ours -outside the uplands of National Parks, and the increasingly vital land owned by conservation organisations, doesn’t. The creep of urban sprawl and its associated roads , airports etc is inexorable in many parts of lowland England.

    The Green Belt, which is already being lost at the rate of 2500 acres pa around our conurbations is under threat from a massive house building programme, supplemented by Government plans to reduce the ability of local people to influence planning decisions.

    These houses are as you rightly observe the result of lack of planning for past population increase.This is the backlog.
    The situation will only get worse if the “open door” policy we currently have is allowed to continue.

    A “consensual” population policy-informed by the need to balance human population with landscape area and quality-is exactly what I called for.

    Unrestricted immigration , however is inimical to such a concept.

    Incidentally wild landscape can be “economically” uninhabitable” and still be destroyed, as you will know from the Industrial scale wind farms built and proposed in Scotlands pristine uplands.

    These installations and their infrastructure together with the with the proposal for 220km of transmission line on 200ft high pylons across the Scottish uplands are a prime example of what I am driving at. Why are they being built?-to export electricity from the most remote & beautiful parts of Scotland, in the mistaken belief that they will combat “climate change”.

    If the industrialisation by wind turbines of Isle of Lewis proceeds it will be an environmental disaster. And for what? So that Landowners & Developers can cash in on ROC premiums , and the ever increasing population of UK can go on increasing its energy demands via transmission lines stretching to what were the pristine peat bogs of Lewis?

    You can soon wave goodbye to that symbol of Scotlands wild places, The Golden Eagle if this carries on.

    You were right indeed to say that there has been a lack of planning for population and energy.None so noticable as the disaster occurring in the Scottish Landscape since Brian Wilson re-designated it “an energy resource”

    Our equivalent down here is to cover the uplands of the North East in turbines in order to save the planet-whilst at the same time building thousands of new homes & expand Stansted Aiport in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

  28. Colin,

    “You cannot possibly have an objective viewpoint on the urbanisation occurring in places like NE Kent, and Cambridgeshire from the vantage point of The Black Isle.”

    Yes I can, I don’t need to visit Antartica to know I don’t want to live their.

    I can pick up all the relevant information I need from an oppinion from open sources. If we all restricted our selves to direct experience then this site would be pretty empty.

    The “creep of urban sprawl” isn’t a new thing it’s been happening in the South East for decades, I know I lived in Baldock in Beds for a while in the late 80’s. It wasn’t caused by immigration, and few of the recent influx of immigrants are buying new homes on the green belt.

    I haven’t seen many complaints about the march of new housing from the millions of people who have made money out of selling them in the last decade or so.

    Like I have said migration has highlighted our lack of planning, not caused it.

    As it is we don’t have an open door policy we have the free movement of people in the EU ( excluding Romania and Bulgaria) and that includes tens of thousands of Britains going the other way putting up prices in other peoples countries.

    You don’t here many complaints about that when you watch “A Place in the Sun” on prime time UK TV. But then that’s us going to there countries and not the other way round.

    Equally you haven’t heard that many people complaining about getting a cheap cash in hand Polish plumber, or us stripping the third world of doctors and nurses from a quarter century.

    What we have had is less than 5 years of very rapid inward migration from Eastern Europe that we weren’t well prepared for coinciding with the consequences of not building enough houses for over twenty years creating a demand that has made house prices go through the roof.

    As to wind farms they won’t stop climate change, India and China will see to that, but they will provide energy security.

    80% of Scotlands electricity comes from just 4 plants, two nuclear and two coal. With oil near as damn it at $100 a barrel ( even if it’s ours we still pretty much need to pay the market price) and nuclear unpopular, we need to clean up the coal ones and not replace the nuclear.

    Helpfully Scotland produces more electricity than we need so along with efficency we only need to reach about 30% renewables to fill that gap. On shore wind will probably produce about 10%.

    Most of the big wind farms are actually near the central belt, places like the Fenwick Moor or Ayrshire. Things like Brian Wilsons monstrosity on the Western Isles at the opposite end of the country from the demand don’t make a lot of sense.

    But then Wilson has long personal connections with the area, and as well as pushing it as a gaint wind farm he also supported nuclear including Hunterston, which surprise surprise just happened to be in his own constituency.

    He still regularly pops up on telly to talk about energy policy even though his energy review was effectively binned within a year of being published.

    What we do need is more domestic turbines and on-shore scaled to meet local need, so that we place less emphasis on pushing power out of big power stations.

    At about 10-15% on shore wind Scotland has more than enough space to allow it without enviromental damage.

    You will always get people close buy complaining and not all sites are appropriate, but dispersing them sensitively on moorland in close proximity to towns and cities is better than a handfull of megastations producing hundreds of thosands of tonnes of Co2 or thosands of tonnes of nuclear waste.

    I’ve seen the Novar wind farm every time I’ve gone over the ridge to Dingwall for over ten years and in the last year I’ve been able to see the new one at Farr out my window even though it’s, twenty miles away.

    I love living up here and it’s a beautiful place, but to be honest the wind farms don’t bother me or the vast majority of people.

    It has been badly handled just like the market led “dash for gas”, but that’s back to neo liberalism and the use of the market instead of the type of planning we saw when we developed Hydro in the fifties.

    So whether it be wind farms or migrants, I just don’t buy that the problems we have created for ourselves over population or energy are other peoples fault.

    In the seventies first under Thatcher and then Major and Blair we gave up long term startegic planning for the market.

    People enjoyed it when it meant cheaper phone bills, electricity and water, along with rising house prices and less interference from the state and lower taxes. It is after all what people voted for.

    Now with an acute housing shortage and pressure on services, people are complaining that the politicains have got it all wrong and haven’t been listening to the public.

    Wrong, they did listen and gave people what they wanted, which was short termism with Jam today.

    Now that we see the negitive side of some of it the public who were all to happy to vote them in seem to be trying to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of how they voted.


  29. Peter

    “So whether it be wind farms or migrants, I just don’t buy that the problems we have created for ourselves over population or energy are other peoples fault.”

    I didn’t say they were. On the contrary they are most definitely our fault.

    More people=more consumption of resources of every kind from energy to land to water to doctors.

    Immigration is now, and is projected to be at least 50% of our population increase.
    Since we have a huge pool of economically inactive people on welfare, much of this immigration is currently economically unneccessary.

    The idea of an unpredictably variable and intermittent energy source providing “energy security” is plain daft.
    There are other alternatives which would.

  30. Peter:-

    “As it is we don’t have an open door policy we have the free movement of people in the EU ..What we have had is less than 5 years of very rapid inward migration from Eastern Europe ”

    From National Statistics:-

    Net migration to / – from UK


    Year Total British EU Commonwealth others
    1996 54 -62 28 47 41
    1997 47 -60 18 51 38
    1998 139 -23 33 72 57
    1999 163 -23 8 80 98
    2000 163 -57 6 101 113
    2001 172 -53 11 101 113
    2002 153 -91 11 100 133
    2003 151 -85 14 107 115
    2004 223 -120 75 164 104
    2005 185 -107 88 126 78

  31. That table didn’t work very well-
    for years 1997 to 2005 inclusive the National Stats for net migration are :-

    thousands :-
    British. -619
    EU. +264
    Commonwealth. +900
    Others. +851

    Net. +1396

  32. Colin,

    But compared to the rest of the EU we’re about average,


    Try looking at the bigger picture.


  33. Peter

    Oh we’re on to the “big picture” now are we!

    I understand the big picture only too well thanks.

    I just wanted to correct the quotes from you that I cited. As a summary of the key elements in UK migration patterns over the last decade they were entirely misleading-wittingly or unwittingly.

  34. Colin,

    But the bulk of it has been in the last few years and that isn’t sustainable, as it is principally due to the expansion of the EU. It has to be seen in the context of a larger population and greater movement of larger numbers of people.

    Since the start of the year oil has risen from $80 a barrel to $100, a 25% increase, but that doesn’t mean that by 2010 it will be $196 a barrel ( increasing 25% year on year).

    This whole debate is driven by an over reaction to a short term rapid rise in population over a short period of time.

    If Poland hadn’t joined the EU we’d probably be panicking over the flow of 25-45 year olds heading for Australia and New Zealand, leaving the old to fend for themselves.

    Polls deal with perception not fact. What is driving this is our old friend, “There coming over here and taking our jobs and swamping our services”.

    The government is culpable of poor planning and little or no forsight, but we don’t have an open door immigration policy and there isn’t a crisis.

    Britain is less densely populated than Belguim and it’s hardly going to sink in to the Channel. Rapid change can be unsettleing for people, but that doesn’t mean we should panic or that it will continue indefinitely.

    The context that has sparked this has been an over rection to a large number of migrants from a new source in short period of time and an belief that weare ill prepared for a growing population.

    What we are seeing is the migration equivelent of the Norther Rock, there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong, but a crisis of confidence in the system has made it in to a self fulfilling prophecy.


  35. Just to redress the balance

    I think the LibDems are doing jolly nicely for now, and I’m looking forward to polls which show their recovery stabilising once they have a new leader.


  36. Anthony,

    See….. Migration works both ways.


  37. :)

  38. Peter

    “This whole debate is driven by an over reaction to a short term rapid rise in population over a short period of time.”

    That may be your view -it isn’t mine.

    THe data for the last decade makes it clear what the nature & scale of the problem is & I am perfectly cabable of reading it & assessing it without silly comments about oil prices thanks.

    I-unlike you am content to let people make their own minds up without resorting to phrases like-“There coming over here and taking our jobs and swamping our services”. There are plenty of very unpleasant people around willing to use that sort of phrase in earnest.

    So I can do without people like you using it as a patronising joke.

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