by Chris Bertram on June 18, 2004

Dick Morris, former Clinton adviser and UKIP spin-doctor was on the BBC’s flagship discussion programme, Question Time, last night. Very many of his utterances were outright falsehoods (though plain ignorance of British and European politics was evidently a good part of the explanation). Amazingly, he explained the problem of high house prices in the UK [only some parts of which actually have high house prices!] was caused by the British government having lost control of immigration to the EU [false], with the result that people were pouring in and bidding up the price of a scarce resource! Supply and demand, QED! I don’t know whether I’m more surprised that this idiot is credited as the “genius” behind Ewekip’s recent success or that he was once employed by a Democratic American President!

UPDATE: Chris Brooke links to a Mirror hatchet job on of Ewekip’s celebrity MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk.

UPDATE UPDATE: this is a restored post from Google’s cache.



Bob 06.20.04 at 3:30 pm

UKIP is answerable for its own xenophobic inclinations and propaganda. It does not follow that xenophobia is the only cause for objecting to the EU Constitution as agreed at the IGC.

If we go back to the early debates on Britain joining the Euro c. 1997, it was then suggested by the head of a leading UK polling agency that the way to win the promised referendum on the Euro was the same way the 1975 referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Community (as then) had been won. As claimed, that was by painting all opposition as “wild men with staring eyes”.

Exactly that same disreputable tactic is being applied here and now. Doubtless, there will be more to come. For the record here, I campaigned in the 1975 referendum for Britain’s continued membership of the EC. When he first stood for Parliament at the Beaconsfield byelection in 1982, Tony Blair’s personal manifesto included his commitment to negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EC and that despite the outcome of the 1975 referendum when 64.5% voted in favour of staying in the EC.

The EU may or may not need a Constitution because of enlargement but the argument for a Constitution does not entail supporting this particular Constitution and I can still say that while admiring and saluting the way the Irish presidency of the EU conducted the negotiations and debate.


q 06.20.04 at 3:43 pm

_the British government having lost control of immigration to the EU_

Do you think he meant asylum seekers? I understand there have been a lot in the last 3 or 4 years.


Bob 06.20.04 at 4:50 pm

Try this which includes a chart showing the trend:

“During 2002, there was a sharp rise in asylum applications, reaching a record number that year. The government claims the subsequent fall through 2003 is largely down to its controversial policies. The latest asylum statistics for the first quarter of 2004 show that trend of decreasing applications continuing. . . ” – from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3747513.stm

The National Audit Office checked the reliability of the figures as best it could judge:

“The National Audit Office says asylum figures are ‘in most respects reliable’ after a probe into claims figures were massaged by relaxing immigration rules. It says there is ‘no clear statistical evidence’ that asylum was cut at the expense of other forms of migration.” – from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3745149.stm


q 06.20.04 at 6:53 pm

There are some odd statistics when it comes to asylum seekers…where would you expect most asylum seekers to be: London, Dover…first port of call?

BBC Link

58% were based in Yorkshire, Humberside and West Midlands and the North-West.
5% in London.
2% South-East.
2% South-West.
1% East of England

In the North I believe house prices have gone up the more than in London and the South East over the last 2 years.

(Approx 2003)
20% Yorks/Humber
10% London

_”Where do they live? Around one in four asylum seekers were allowed to stay in the UK in 2002, but not all of them permanently. Some asylum seekers are provided with accommodation by a government agency, with Glasgow (5,665), Birmingham (3,555) and Liverpool (1,925) playing host to the most people.”_

Of course, house prices are affected by some BIG factors…but it is interesting food for thought.


Bob 06.20.04 at 7:51 pm

The BBC link you posted does NOT support the claims you made about the residence of asylum seekers. According to this government posted information:

It has been estimated that over half of the international migration to the UK comes to
• In recent years people given UK residence as a result of seeking asylum, or entering
the country as a visitor and requesting residence, have formed an important part of the
inward migration from overseas.
• There is no reliable information on how many refugees are living or have moved to
London. It has been estimated that the numbers of refugees who have entered the
country over the last 15 years and are now living in London is between 240,000 and
280,000. (HOLP 1999 unpublished)
• The majority of asylum seekers are young, two thirds aged between 21 and 34, and
men (over 75% in 1997). Roughly 35% of applicants in 1997 were Asian, 30% African
and 30% from Europe.
• A home office study showed that eight out of 10 people granted refugee status between
1983 and 1991 settled in London. This would suggest that over 43,000 applicants since
1989 have sought to house themselves in London.
• As could be expected, refugees and asylum seekers experience some of the greatest
difficulties trying to house themselves in London.

– from: http://www.londonshealth.gov.uk/pdf/lhs/hsfact2.pdf

According to the national census in 2001, 26.8% of inner London residents were born outside the European Union: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/profiles/1B-A.asp

Among outer London residents, 18.7% were born outside the European Union: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/profiles/1C-A.asp


q 06.20.04 at 7:52 pm

Glasgow is an interesting case:
Frenzy house purchasing in 2003 with a large influx of asylum seekers. Stats from COSLA. Maybe the theory is not so crazy after all – lies, damned lies and statistics!


q 06.20.04 at 7:55 pm

I made no claims at all regarding residence – merely posted the stats from the BBC website.


Bob 06.20.04 at 8:17 pm

The Scots are worried about the consequences of their declining population.

“The Scottish population is a little lower than at the time of the last census in 1991 and a remarkable 2% less (116,000) than the 1981 figure.” – from:


q 06.20.04 at 8:19 pm

It seems that your statistics don’t necessarily disagree with mine, it seems possible that in the 90s migrants went to London and in the last few years they went to the North.

Do you agree?

Do you agree that your statement “The BBC link you posted does NOT support the claims you made about the residence of asylum seekers.” is misleading or false?

Here is the precise location of the picture stats from the BBC:



Bob 06.20.04 at 10:00 pm

Your orginal BBC link did not show the figures; the second one does. But as best I can gather, the figures in your second BBC link relate only to the destination of asylum seekers in one year, namely 2002. The figures do not show what happened in previous or subsequent years so hardly give an indication of settlement in Britain’s regions by folks who were born outside the European Union, whereas the posted Census 2001 figures for London do. And London currently has a higher unemployment rate than any other standard UK region – see Table 18(1) at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0604.pdf

However, all this is somewhat beside the main thread issue of Europe’s new Constitution.

Blair is making it an issue of “myth versus reality”.

Really? Here is the reality:

The UK’s annual inflation rate is reported at 1.5%, compared with 2.5% in the Eurozone at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/Public/datashop/print-product/EN?catalogue=Eurostat&product=2-16062004-EN-AP-EN&mode=download

As for the unemployment rate, that is reported at 9.0% for the Eurozone compared with only 4.7% for the UK, little more than half the Eurozone rate: http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/Public/datashop/print-product/EN?catalogue=Eurostat&product=3-02062004-EN-BP-EN&mode=download

Evidently, the unemployment-inflation trade-offs in the Eurozone and the UK are hugely different. And GDP growth in the UK is faster too.

Just who is myth peddling?

Why does Chirac keep pushing tax harmonisation, as here:

“An irate President Jacques Chirac of France last night rounded on Tony Blair for thwarting the ambitions of the EU to appease Eurosceptic opinion in Britain. ‘The ambitions foreseen [for the constitution] are reduced, especially on tax and social security, by the clear position of the United Kingdom. This will be a real problem,’ he said.” – from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,7369,1241774,00.html

The reason Chirac keeps pushing tax hrmonisation is this:

“Communications technology creates a single, global market in which a trade in New York can instantly be seen in London or Tokyo. This gives senior managers global responsibilities and global reach. They could be based anywhere, but as London is the only time zone where the business day overlaps with the other two, it is the location of choice for the new cadre of global money managers.

“The upshot is converging compensation, says Mr Baines. Managers in any of the three time zones are increasingly rewarded the same way. But because the main source of people with technical skills is New York, pay for the moment tends to level up to New York levels.

“As New York drags up London, so London drags up Europe. To keep talented people in France, says Marina Eloy, who runs global human resources at Paribas, a French bank, you have to pay British prices. ‘As soon as someone has an international side, you have to give them double the domestic equivalent,’ she says. ‘The premium on speaking English becomes enormous.’ No wonder London’s coffee bars are staffed by eager French students polishing their linguistic skills. . .

“Tax is a growing problem for companies based in countries with heavy imposts. When Electrolux, a Swedish appliance maker, recently tried to woo Stephan Carlquist, a Swede then working for ABB Asea Brown Boveri in America, it had to agree to let him run its data-processing division from comparatively lightly taxed London. . . ” – from:

An insight into the different tax imposts in Europe can found here: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/6/63/1962227.pdf

France has one of the highest imposts in Europe, which is why we need to worry about Chirac’s enthusiasm for tax harmonisation. The hurdle ahead for Britain is that “under the constitution, the 12 countries that are part of the single currency could decide to axe the national veto on tax issues. If Britain later wanted to opt into the currency, it would then have to accept the rules, including majority voting on tax.” – from: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=533357

Let’s have the reality and not the myths being spun by Tony Blair and Charles Kennedy.


q 06.20.04 at 10:32 pm

Does the 2001 census indicate a breakdown of when the immigrants (non-EU) people moved to London, in the previous couple of years or earlier? It seems to me the 2001 Census is a static snapshot. The relation between property prices and people movement has to be a dynamic one.

Lots of people in London who weren’t born in the EU moved there in the 1970s.

The point the UKIP make about house prices is presumably that there was a large RECENT migration that caused a RECENT rise.

It doesn’t matter if 99% of Londoners were born in PERU, what matters is did they move there in the period 1998-2003 when the house prices went crazy – or did they already live there?

I pointed out that in 2002 a lot of the Asylum Seekers were in the North according to the BBC – a group of people who are an part of the net migration, and likely to have recently arrived. I am quite willing to listen to any argument you have, but quoting statistics about the 1980s is not going to get us very far when the most extreme house price rises occurred between 1998-2003.

It would be interesting would be to see statistics relating to the total net migration of individuals over the period 1970-2003 and campare that to the fluctuations in house prices over that period.

On a local scale, it is clear that population movements affect prices: people have been moving out of Liverpool for years, hence low prices in the city. Bournemouth and Poole are growing, and prices have been rocketing.


Chris Bertram 06.20.04 at 11:43 pm

q, you are talking nonsense. The immigrants of whom you write don’t have the financial means to bid up house prices. Dick Morris’s ignorance of that fact exposed him on Question Time. Posting from New Zealand, I guess your ignorance is more forgivable.


Bob 06.21.04 at 12:21 am

Your post is again off thread, which relates to the EU Constitution, but I will take you up on houses and house prices.

House prices are determined by the balance between supply and demand, as are the prices of verging on all products and services in (largely) unregulated competitive markets. Last year 123,000 homes were built for sale in England, the same average as for the past 25 years and the Empty Homes Agency records almost a million properties going begging, including in the South East.

On the demand side, recent interest rates have been at their lowest for 40 years and recent unemployment rates at their lowest for about 30 years. The UK economy has been growing without interruption since 1992 and the official annual inflation rate is presently down at 1.5% – compared with 2.5% in the Eurozone.

In that buoyant context, buyers are willing to pay more in relation to their earnings to buy a home of their choice and mortgage lenders have been willing to go along with that. There is also a significant element of speculation in the market – the notorious housing bubble – with buyers upgrading their housing in the expectation that house prices will go on rising, just possibly stoked by a belief that Britain might join the Euro at some time so future interest rates will fall to Eurozone levels. Average household size has been declining on trend for at least the last 30 years. The percentage of one-person households has almost doubled since 1971 from 17% to 31% in 2001 and is projected to rise over the next couple of decades to c. 40%.

As for London, its population declined on trend from before WW2 until the early 1990s:

It cannot therefore be credibly argued that London house prices are relatively high because of population pressures, except possibly in the 1990s. The more potent factor is that London is one of the most affluent regions in Europe in terms of average income per head of its residents but London is also one of the most costly cities in the world in which to live: http://money.cnn.com/2004/06/11/pf/costofliving/

In terms of net disposable incomes after housing costs, almost all London boroughs come out as only middling affluent and about a quarter of the boroughs are rated in official reports as among the most deprived districts in England and Wales – Scotland insists on being in a different data set. Despite the deprivation, resident London tax payers are making a net contribution to the central treasury of up to UKP 20 billions a year, which is then spread around elsewhere. As mentioned before, London currently has a higher unemployment rate than any other standard UK region – see Table 18(1) at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0604.pdf

“Eight of the top 10 wealthiest places in England are in the north of the country, with Tatton in Cheshire, home to David and Victoria Beckham, the wealthiest area in terms of disposable income, research revealed yesterday. Barclays Private Clients looked at average salaries and the cost of living across England and Wales to establish the actual value of disposable income in a region.

“Under the measure the average salary of £29,303 in Tatton is worth £41,506, once the cost of living is taken into account. Hallam in Sheffield emerged as the second wealthiest place in real terms, with an average salary of £29,150 worth £41,289, while Kensington and Chelsea, which has the highest average salary in the country of £40,951, came third.

“Overall, eight of the top 10 wealthiest regions in real terms were in the north of England, with only Kensington and Chelsea and Warwick and Leamington outside the area.” – from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/northsouth/article/0,2763,955965,00.html


Chris Bertram 06.21.04 at 7:14 am

Your post is again off thread, which relates to the EU Constitution…

Um no. My original post was on Dick Morris and UKIP, not on the EU constititution (which I didn’t mention).


Bob 06.21.04 at 9:22 am

Chris – Sorry, my post about being “off thread” was meant for “q”. Curiously, threads on the EU and the Constitution often get diverted.


q 06.21.04 at 9:24 am

_q, you are talking nonsense. The immigrants of whom you write don’t have the financial means to bid up house prices._

Presumably, they have to live somewhere, maybe rented accommodation, which pushes up rents etc.

_Dick Morris’s ignorance of that fact exposed him on Question Time. Posting from New Zealand, I guess your ignorance is more forgivable._

Ignorance is closely related to the possesion and usage of facts. Apart from the fact of your open contempt for others, what other facts are you presenting in this comment thread?


q 06.21.04 at 11:44 am

_Chris – Sorry, my post about being “off thread” was meant for “q”. Curiously, threads on the EU and the Constitution often get diverted._

Like Chris, I was not talking about the EU constitution. The only person who has talked about the EU constitution is Bob.

My understanding of the topic was that Chris was mocking someone from the UKIP for being ignorant – and that the example he gave was that the UKIP person said that mis-controlled immigration was affecting house prices. Maybe I am wrong about this intepretation of the original comment?


Andy 06.21.04 at 11:45 am


You can be in possesion of large numbers of facts and still be ignorant if you are unable to make sense of the facts you have.

Asylum seekers in Britain receive state benefits of around £36 per week and also recieve housing benefit to pay their rent.

They are mainly housed in local authority housing stock in inner city areas where there are empty houses and flats becuase no else one wants to live there.

While there may be a correlation between rising house prices and rising asylum seeker numbers, there is no plausible mechanism which would cause house prices on the scale that they have risen by rise as a result of ayslum seekers.

More plausible explanations include:

The expectation among house purchasers that prices will continue rising, so they are willing to pay more in anticipation of getting a return on their spending.

Low interest rates which mean people can afford to borrow more.

Poor stock market returns which mean that people are putting money into property instead of the stock market.

Now I think you should face the fact that you and Dick Morris are ignorant.


q 06.21.04 at 12:06 pm

_You can be in possesion of large numbers of facts and still be ignorant if you are unable to make sense of the facts you have._

I agree, indeed I think I mentioned that ignorance requires possession and usage.

_…mainly housed in local authority housing stock …_

Now wouldn’t it have been better if instead of mocking “ignorant” opponents, these propositions were put forward in the first place.

_Now I think you should face the fact that you and Dick Morris are ignorant._

If it is ignorant to raise questions, facts and debate the matter, then I plead incurable ignorance.

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