Nov 11, 2011

Dorries on Question Time, and those 2.2 million illegal immigrants

On BBC Question Time last night (available here for a limited time, 24 mins in), Nadine Dorries was trying to defend the work done by the coalition government to protect our borders (see: Theresa May refuses to resign over border checks scandal).

She started off very well by objecting to the question:

"Let me actually focus on what DID happen. What happened was... (pause)... that there were... (pause)... two things happened."

The host tried to get her back on track, when Dorries arrived at her 'point' with this assertion:

"Shorter queues delivered an increase in the number of illegal immigrants that were protected, I mean detected..."

This border checks pilot "protected" illegal immigrants? Oops, bit of a Freudian slip there... but I must ask that you focus on those shorter queues she speaks of, as they will come up again.

Dorries went on to rattle out a series of statistics that, in her eyes, showed Theresa May's pilot scheme of selective scanning to be a success

"10% increase in number of illegal immigrants [detected]... 100% increase in illegal firearms [detected]... 48% increase in forged documents [detected]..."

These statistics are unsubstantiated at present, but even if they were accurate and (almost) accurately put, they do not cover the periods when nothing was being detected at all. But we're told things ran more efficiently on those occasions when the gate wasn't swinging wide open, and Dorries declared the pilot a success on this basis. Oh, and on the basis that the queues were shorter. Or were they...?

"If the queues were shorter... I have no idea actually if the queues were shorter... but the objective of the exercise was..."

Yes, so long as we keep our eyes on the objective of the exercise, there's no risk of a perceived success being marred by any actual outcome.

But Dorries wasn't finished yet.

Labour MP Rachel Reeves was invited by the host to voice her opinion on this pilot scheme of cutting back on some checks and if it was a success. Dorries quickly jumped in and answered the question for her:

"It INCREASED security."

Then Dorries kindly let Reeves speak... for about 20 seconds. Reeves made the point that we had no idea how many people were let in without due authorisation during the 'downtime' periods, but she was quickly confronted by the following statistic from Dorries:

"You let 2.2 million in, Rachel."

In the context of what was being said, many people understood this to be a claim by Nadine Dorries that the Labour government (i.e. not Rachel Reeves personally) had allowed 2.2 million illegal immigrants into the country.

This is an outburst comparable to her claim that cannabis was fifty times more potent that is was a mere 12 months ago:

1. We do not know and cannot know the number of people that have entered this country illegally, because they are here illegally.

2. This pilot scheme of Theresa May's actually increased our uncertainty about the number of people who entered the country without appropriate documentation/authorisation in recent months, because there were periods where relevant checks were not being conducted at all.

3. The "2.2 million" figure Dorries gave refers to the net immigration figure from 1997 to 2009; the number of people who entered the country (legally) minus the number who had migrated to other countries in the same period.

4. And it comes from a speech by David Cameron, but at this stage we cannot know if Dorries is responding to the dog whistle in his speech, or blowing her own:

"... for too long, immigration has been too high. Between 1997 and 2009, 2.2 million more people came to live in this country than left to live abroad. That's the largest influx of people Britain has ever had..." - David Cameron (source)

By the way, I'm one of the 2.2 million people Dorries has branded an illegal immigrant, but I'm sure it's nothing personal.

No comments: