The independent statistics body for Britain has a 'sinister' attitude to immigration, a minister has claimed.I guess that’s the inconvenient thing about these independent bodies, isn’t it Phil. They have a habit of letting the cat out of the bag…
Phil Woolas questioned the motives of the Office for National Statistics in publishing figures showing one in nine UK residents was born abroad.
The immigration minister revealed that he had tried to prevent the organisation publishing the data and accused it of 'playing politics'.So, he tried to prevent an independent body from publishing data, and he accuses them of ‘playing politics’?
Ministers appear to be going on the offensive against the ONS and its chief statistician, Karen Dunnell, after a series of rows over official data.
But Mr Woolas's broadside is likely to trigger a backlash from MPs, who say the body must be able to collect information and provide impartial analysis free from Government interference.
Ministers were said to be 'fizzing' with anger last month after the ONS published figures showing the growing numbers of immigrants getting jobs while the British workforce declines.It was unfortunate, yes. Perhaps Broon shouldn’t have opened his mouth, if he knew the evidence would discredit him? How come he didn’t? Isn’t he supposed to be some kind of control-freak?
It revealed that the number of foreign workers increased by 175,000 to 2.4million last year while the number of British fell by 234,000 to 27million.
Labour sources suggested the timing of the release was a political act designed to embarrass Gordon Brown over his controversial 'British jobs for British workers' slogan.
But then, if we’d been talking about a Conservative government, would any of these ‘sources’ be claiming the same thing? Of course not!
It came as construction workers took part in wildcat strikes in Lincolnshire and Kent, angry about jobs going to foreigners.Because that’s what they DO - publish statistics. It’s hardly their fault that each new statistic shows the true picture, and not the one painted by government spin doctors.
Then last week, the ONS published statistics showing foreign-born people make up one in nine of the population of the UK.
In a letter to Sunder Katwala, head of the Left-wing Fabian Society, Mr Woolas said most people believed it was the Government that had released the data.Suck it up, Woolas! They are doing their job. You aren’t. And that’s all there is to it….
'In fact, it was the ONS with no ministerial involvement and indeed despite my objections,' he added. 'What's worse is that the press release highlighted the one in nine figure as the main finding.
'So, Government gets the blame by some for whipping up anti-foreign sentiment when it is the independent ONS who are playing politics.
'The justification from the ONS who had, out of schedule, highlighted the figure two weeks earlier because it was "topical" is, at best, naive or, at worst, sinister.'
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'The way ministers are behaving over crime and immigration figures is little short of a disgrace.It’s called ‘losing the plot’. And it’s going to happen more and more often, until we finally get rid of this bunch…
'When they can, they manipulate the figures for their own political purposes and when they can't they launch hysterical rants at the independent statistics office.'
Sir Andrew Green, head of the MigrationWatch think tank, said: 'It's extremely unfortunate if a minister gives an impression of bullying the official statisticians for doing no more than setting out the facts, however inconvenient they may be for the Government of the day.But not surprising, given this control-freak government.
'To imply that there is some sinister motive in simply telling the truth is astonishing.'
Last night, Mr Woolas was unrepentant saying: 'The ONS need to be aware that they are entering shark-infested waters. It's not the role of the ONS to dictate the debate.'Or in other words: ‘F*** you, Minister!’
A spokesman for the ONS said: 'We will not be responding to this letter.'
Mark Wadsworth has the possible reason for the ONS to decide not to play nice with Broon’s Bunch, and Unenlightened Commentary has a great post title for his take on this!