Migration Watch UK

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MigrationWatch UK describes itself as an 'independent, voluntary, non political body which is concerned about the present scale of immigration into the UK'. It was founded in 1991 and says it is 'supported entirely by private donations'. [1]





In Britain there are a variety of think-tanks and pressure groups which seek to influence the debate on immigration. One of the most contemporary influential and outspoken think-tanks is Migration Watch UK whose reports are frequently cited by the mainstream media and politicians. Since its inception MigrationWatch has produced eighteen papers to counteract economic arguments for immigration to the UK [3]. The basis of their argument is that the economic benefits brought by immigrants ‘in terms of GDP per head is therefore trivial – about 0.01% of GDP or just 4p per head per week – less than a Mars bar per month’. It has also released twenty papers re-interpreting and questioning the official figures and statistics concerning migration trends. The general thread running through the papers suggests that Official statistics and other studies have downplayed population forecasts, and that ‘the present massive levels of immigration’, are unsustainable [4] As of December 2007 Migrationwatch had produced around 115 papers, 58 press articles and over 160 press releases covering a range of issues concerning the alleged negative social and economic impacts of immigration on health, employment, housing and education. In all of the UK’s newspapers listed on Lexus Nexus. Migrationwatch, since its inception has been directly cited in 2365 articles [5] and that does not include incidences where the source may not have been named; the general tone tends to be alarmist and anti-immigrant particularly in right-wing tabloids. As can be noted below a mere 7 newspaper groups out of a total of 56, cited Migrationwatch 1679 times. Unsurprisingly all seven of them are traditionally held to be right-wing.

Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday (436)
The Express Newspapers (385)
The Express (258)
News International Newspapers Information Services Ltd. (177)
The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph (London) (161)
The Times & Sunday Times (135)
Northcliffe Newspapers (100)

Source: LexisNexis[6].

Half of the articles came from just 3 established rightwing tabloid groups such as The Mail Group’s Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, The Express Newspapers’ Daily Star and Sunday Star and News International’s Sun and News of the World. The two most popular right-wing broadsheets: The Times & Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph cited Migrationwatch 296 times[7]. The influence of Migrationwatch’s research is not limited to right-wing newspapers; a quick search on the BBC’s website reveals around 60 articles [8] citing Migrationwatch. On the BBC’s Destination UK webpage, which is intended to be a specialised, BBC news source on Immigration, Migrationwatch is listed as one of only six ‘key’ organisations [9]. Migrationwatch’s founder Sir Andrew Green has appeared on a number of BBC radio and TV interviews and was invited to speak as an ‘expert’ on issues concerning immigration on two separate occasions on the BBC’s flagship program Newsnight [10].

Migrationwatch’s own website proudly presents a list of 10 achievements where it claims to have managed to force the government to adjust their arguments, figures and even policies concerning immigration. In June 2003 the think tank-tank made claims that current immigration policy was facilitating the spread of HIV / Aids, Hepatitis B and TB. In July 2004 the group called for HIV screening of visitors. The government has subsequently implemented a pilot scheme to screen applicants from high-risk countries for TB. [11]

In a March 2009 presentation Tim Montgomerie and Matthew Elliott described MigrationWatch as part of the infrastructure of the conservative movement in Britain.[12]


Migrationwatch says it is “an independent and non-political body”[13]. However, a closer look at its aims and research agenda, not to mention its founders and supporters suggests that its claim to be independent and non-political is questionable. Much of the research conducted, the interpretation of statistics, and policy recommendations put forward, by Migrationwatch suggests that its stance on immigration is not neutral. On the contrary the think-tank has clear aims to steer public opinion and government policy towards restricting inflow immigration. Moreover, many of Migrationwatch’s reports and briefing papers available on its website [http:/www.migrationwatch.com] seek to undermine, discredit and re-interpret any other independent or official research or statistics which favour immigration and highlight the positive aspects such as the economic and cultural contributions of immigration to Britain.

Background and Credentials of the group

Leigh Daynes, of Refugee Action, in an article in the Observer described Migrationwatch as

a partisan pressure group, whose influence far exceeds its authority. Its sole objective is to fuel ill-informed public debate on migration by polarising the issues. There is an absolute and fundamental difference between migration and asylum. Migrationwatch seeks to obscure this fact[14]

Migrationwatch, in spite of its claim to non-partisanship, has well-established right-wing credentials. Its Co-founder David Coleman was special adviser to former Tory Ministers Leon Brittan and William Waldegrave. Sir Andrew Green the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia was one of the Tories 'favourite diplomats and a close friend of former Minister Jonathan Aitken who sits with Green [15] and Baroness Caroline Cox on the Board of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). CSW’s claims with regard to Sudan have long been questioned and has been described as "overeager or misinformed" by reputable human rights activist and past director of African Rights Alex de Waal, with regard to her previous claims about slavery in Sudan[16] CSW’s former President Baroness Cox, who was then replaced by Jonathan Aitken, was even thrown out of the Tory party for openly supporting the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) which is notorious for its hard-line anti-immigration stance. (Pallister, 2007) David Coleman’s right-wing credentials are even more impressive than his co-founder; he has been described by the BNP as their “friend at the immigration-reform think tank Migration Watch" and "a very distinguished demographer whom we trust" [17]. Being praised by the BNP of course is not in itself an indication of his political objectives; David Coleman has been a long-standing member of the Galton Institute which was formally known as the Eugenics Society.

This issue has had very little coverage in the mainstream media; in fact it has only been mentioned in 10 articles out of all of the UK’s newspapers and 6 of those articles were in his defence[18]. However, a closer inspection of this institute demonstrates that the affiliation of an influential mainstream critic of immigration such as David Coleman with such a controversial institution is not something to be taken lightly. on the contrary, this relationship should be taken very seriously.

The Galton Institute gets its name from Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton who coined the term ‘eugenics:

We greatly want a brief word to express the science of improving stock, which is by no means confined to questions of judicious mating, but which, especially in the case of man, takes cognisance of all influences that tend in however remote a degree to give to the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had. The word eugenics would sufficiently express the idea; it is at least a neater word and a more generalised one than viriculture which I once ventured to use(Galton, 1883)[19].

The principle of eugenics is to improve the human race by encouraging the fertility of the elite whilst regulating reproduction through the sterilization of ‘inferior’ humans [20]; the idea was taken to extremes by the Nazi's in their "master race" experiments. Although Coleman claims that the movement has been marred by Nazism and has since distanced itself and moderated its stance, there are still active members within its ranks who describe themselves as scientific racists who believe that most black people by virtue of their genetics are inherently stupid and more prone to psychopathy, and that governments and states should adhere to the principles of eugenics to ‘improve’ the quality of society by sterilizing the mentally deficient. These self-labelled ‘scientific racists’ believe that ‘civilisation is going to the dogs because the degenerate underclass is over breeding’[21] One of its members wrote the foreword for a book authored by an American Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke[22] who is the most prominent racist in America today and heads the largest white supremacist organization in the world[23]. Teresa Hayter, author of Open Borders: The Case Against Immigration Controls, refused to share a platform with Coleman at meeting because of his affiliations with Eugenics, She gave the following reasons.

Eugenics, as most people I am sure know, advocates the improvement of populations through breeding, proclaims the superiority of the white race, and denounces inter-breeding. It was taken up by Hitler. It is a dangerous, frightening doctrine and should not be given any credence or support. I believe that, historically and now, immigration controls are explicable only by racism, and that they legitimate, and feed, racism. Even when attempts are made, as they sometimes are by Green and Coleman, to justify controls in terms of British economic self-interest, this is hardly of greater moral validity. As far as I know, Coleman and Green have nothing to say about the suffering and deaths caused by the vast and growing edifice of repression resulting from the, rather vain, attempt to stop the free movement of people.
I do not feel it is possible to have any sort of polite, or honest, or academic debate with these people, who appear to be little more than a very plausible front for the BNP [24]

It should be of serious concern, to anyone interested in this area of research, that a professor in Demography who in his publications and public comments has proposed solutions to the world problems by discouraging reproduction in the third world whilst increasing fertility in Europe[25] and has ties to an institute founded on the principles of eugenics; the basis for the compulsory euthanasia program of the Nazis. The neutrality of Coleman, and by extension Migrationwatch, is seriously undermined by their association with eugenics. It is of equal concern that he was allowed to serve as Special Advisor to the Home Secretary and be granted such an influential role in one of the most politically charged debates such as immigration through a think-tank whose research assessments and policy proposals on immigration are based entirely on the preservation of the economy and national Identity of Britain. Migrationwatch makes virtually no reference to - and expresses no interest in - the well being of the immigrants who are quite often fleeing persecution or coming from countries on the verge of starvation. Its cold analysis seeks to convince the government and people to accept restrictions on immigration by emphasising the so called 'economic burden' of immigrants; this is similar to the argument used in Nazi propaganda which sought to eliminate the supposed economic burden brought upon by the existence of those of “inferior stock”


  1. MigrationWatch UK, Welcome to the MigrationWatch UK website, accessed 22 August 2011
  2. Declaration in Nicholas Soames MP's entry in the MP's Register of Interests, acc 10 June 2014
  3. Migrationwatch. (2006, November 4). Guide to Economic Papers. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from Migrationwatch
  4. Migrationwatch. (2005, July 25). The illegal Migrant Population in the UK . Retrieved December 7, 2007, from MigrationwatchUK
  5. LexisNexis. Nexis UK: News Search. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from LexisNexis
  6. LexisNexis. Nexis UK: News Search. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from LexisNexis
  7. LexisNexis. Nexis UK: News Search. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from LexisNexis
  8. BBC. (2007). bbc.co.uk. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from bbc.co.uk
  9. BBC. (2007, August 15). Destination UK. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from BBC NEWS: Special Report
  10. Green, S. A. (2007, January and November). Newsnight. (R. Bacon, G. Esler, & J. Paxman, Interviewers)
  11. Migrationwatch. (2007, January 17). Ten MigrationWatch contributions. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from MigrationwatchUK
  12. Tim Montgomerie, The growth of Britain's conservative movement, ConservativeHome, 14 March 2009.
  13. Migrationwatch: WELCOME TO THE MIGRATIONWATCH UK WEBSITE & EDITORIAL BLOG SITE. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from Migrationwatch
  14. Bright, M. (2002, December 1). Onward march of lobby against immigration. Retrieved December 7, 2007, from Guardian Unlimited
  15. Bright, M. (2002, December 1). Onward march of lobby against immigration. Retrieved December 7, 2007, from Guardian Unlimited
  16. The European Sudanese Public Affairs Council. (2000, October). Allegations of Slavery: A CASE STUDY IN POOR JOURNALISM. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from The European Sudanese Public Affairs Council: Working For Peace In Sudan
  17. Hayter, T. (2007, March 16). Watching David Coleman. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from CommentisFree.Guardian
  18. LexisNexis. Nexis UK: News Search. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from LexisNexis
  19. Galton, F. (1883). Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development
  20. BURCH, G., & PENDELL, E. (1947). Human Breeding and Survival Population Roads to Peace Or War. New York: Penguin Books.
  21. Pallister, D. (2007, March 21). The Number Game. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from CommentisFree.Guardian:
  22. Pallister, D. (2007, March 21). The Number Game. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from CommentisFree.Guardian:
  23. Bergman, J. (2005). Darwinism’s influence on modern racists and white supremacist groups: the case of David Duke. Journal of Creation , 103-107.
  24. Hayter, T. (2007, January 29).Migration Watch protest. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from No Borders
  25. Coleman, D. (2001, March). Replacement Migration’, or why everyone’s going to have to live in Korea A Fable for Our Times from the United Nations. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Galton Institute