If the Government cannot tell us, give or take 700,000 or 800,000, even how many legal and officially working new migrants are here; then how can there be any handle at all on overall totals of arrivals in recent years? On top of the 1.5 or 1.6 million the Government finally admits to, there are all of the illegals, and then the majority of legitimate new entrants who don't work.
And you can bet that however revised are the figures for workers, it will still be a case of the wool being pulled over our eyes. Are those from new EU countries who haven't voluntarily registered included? And the self-employed? They certainly don't include those working in the black economy. And, of course, any figure doesn't include the dependents of workers. (And how do they count those who have fraudulently obtained National Insurance numbers? Or those who don't co-operate with surveys?)
Councils like that of Slough can claim 'I told you so'. And these questions have new resonance with the alarming projections of future population growth by 20 million we were given a week ago. The Government has no policy whatsoever on this.
We may well ask what if anything the Government does know, and what the Government is for. Well, a good kicking, as, inevitably, everyone wises up to the bigger picture of just what a disaster is UK immigration.
The problem is far bigger than just the scale of migration by those who have an above-board presence in the economy, and the impact they have on unemployment and wages (and that is serious enough: an EU study in 2003 showed that for every 100 new working migrants, 83 workers of the host community eventually lost their jobs; and most new entrants are usually earning so little that they are net tax-benefits takers). What about not just those who are in the hidden economy, but those who don't work -- the majority of new arrivals? But especially, what about those who shouldn't be here in Britain at all?
Until recently, discussion of the immigration disaster was sidelined by focus on the relatively small problem of asylum -- everything indeed is relative, as they say. Even at its height, when new claimants were coming in at close to 100,000 annually, this was but a fraction of even official migration rates. Now focus is on legal and working migrants, but this is to ignore not just the fact that four out of every five legitimate migrants come here not primarily to work, but the huge, unquantified number who come here illegally.
This last is the big bogey for the Government, because so far it hasn't dared even to make a proper guess. There IS a guess, but it's a deliberately useless one. This is the mantra-like 600,000 tossed forth; usually with a 'health warning' that it's an upper estimate. This figure is laughably low. It's a guess of the number of illegals compared to legals at the end of the last century, before the massive rises in annual inflows under Labour. And, as usual, it doesn't even include non-workers or dependents. What's more, it's based on a hopeless international comparison that produces a figure for Britain of only a fraction of what it must be.