Earlier today, at the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) Conference in London, media attention has been focused on pugnacious and flamboyantly old-school MEP Godfrey Bloom, whose comments referring to a group of women as ‘sluts’ and brusque treatment of journalists has drawn ire from newspapers and TV stations across the country. Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, has taken to the press to chastise Mr. Bloom and lament the present shift of public attention from serious party issues to this spectacle.
“There is no media coverage of this conference. It’s gone, it’s dead, it’s all about Godfrey hitting a journalist and using an unpleasant four-letter word,” Mr. Farage said in a statement to reporters.
Yet if it weren’t for all the commotion about Mr. Bloom, Mr. Farage’s own keynote address may well have been the subject of today’s headlines, and not in the way he would have hoped.
Right around the 8:00 mark, listen as Mr. Farage describes the tremendous volume of immigration from the E.U. to this country that occurred in 2010:
“We’re a nation that has always been open minded to immigration. Of all the countries in Europe, we’ve been the most open to people from different cultures coming here from around the world. But it is a question – ladies and gentlemen – of scale; because more people settled in this country in 2010 than came here for the previous 1,000 years.”
Can that be right?
As a matter of fact, Mr. Farage’s claim is quite inaccurate. Even fewer people migrated to Britain in 2010 than did in 2009, much less the preceding millennium. This literal and exact interpretation of the UKIP leader’s remarks aside, it appears he was going after an entirely different statistic.
As Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, claimed in a letter to the Office of National Statistics, nearly four million people have immigrated to the United Kingdom in the period from 1997 to 2010.
“Four million immigrants in 13 years is an astonishing figure - the highest in our history, including the Norman conquest in 1066,” reads the letter.
So while Nigel Farage’s exact words are false, could he have been trying to convey the statistic above, that the number of people that migrated to the UK from 1997 to 2010 is larger than any other single historic migration to Britain since the Norman conquest 1,000 years ago? It is possible.
Setting the politics of immigration aside, at the next UKIP conference, perhaps Mr. Farage will be able to divert his attention away from Godfrey Bloom’s antics long enough to keep his statistics straight. We can only hope.