Patprimer74, if I may tackle the Indepenent’s points one by one –
Claim: Britain is confronted with an HIV time bomb when Romanian teenagers descend on our over-stretched health service.
Reality: There are 15,850 Romanians with HIV/Aids, according to the UN. Two thirds were infected while living in children's state institutions during the late 1980s. The infection rate is 0.7 per cent of the population - slightly less than in the UK.
There seems to be no contradiction here between "claim" and "reality", at least insofar as the latter is expressed by the Independent. The overall infection rate in Romania is surely irrelevant - the problem has to do with the 10,000 children infected in the 1980's. Given that there are only just over 25,000 HIV cases among 20-30 year olds in the entire UK, a significant influx of the Romanian patients could indeed increase their ranks substantially. The "reality" presented by the Indy in no way refutes this.
Claim: Unemployment has soared to its highest level for more than six years as thousands of workers arrive from eastern Europe.
Reality: While the unemployment rate rose last month, the number of people in work grew by 42,000 over the three months to March 2006 and by 240,000 over the year, to reach 28.94 million - the highest number of people in work since records began in 1971.
Again, the "reality" doesn't contradict what the headline would have us believe is a "lie". Indeed, the Independent's disingenuousness - their admission that "the unemployment rate rose last month", as if this were a blip appears itself intended to deceive. In fact, the unemployment rate has been rising for some time, and now stands at 5.5%, up from 4.8% a year ago - an increase of nearly 15% in that time.
Claim: Earnings of British builders and other manual workers have slumped by 50 per cent as a flood of east European migrants drives down wages.
Reality: The annual growth rate in average earnings excluding bonuses, was 3.9 per cent in June 2006, up 0.1 per cent on the previous month. Including bonuses wages grew by 4.3 per cent, up 0.2 per cent on the previous month.
The Sun claims that earnings of some "British builders and other manual workers" have been halved. This was not a fabrication on their part, but a statement of the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, quoted as saying that:
"Many migrants are undercutting wages. The day rate for building workers in Southampton has fallen by 50 per cent, Pounds 120 to Pounds 60, since May 2004".
The Indy responds by quoting stats for earners in all sectors. The claim may indeed be crap - but the rebuttal doesn't even address it.
Claim [Print edition]: An unchecked flow of workers from overseas is harmful to the members of society who can least afford it (the young and unskilled)
Reality [Print edition]: The CBI says migrants are providing vital skills and that British school leavers lack the necessary qualifications for even simple jobs.
The Indy again avoids the question. Rather than address the cited article's statement that "a study of the impact of migration into America between 1979 and 1995, by George Borjas of Harvard, concluded that immigration had reduced the wages of unskilled workers (those without American high-school diplomas) by five percentage points", the Independent simply makes the claim that young people here can't do any jobs at all.
Claim [Web edition]: The unprecedented influx of newcomers has had an impact on the availability of social housing.
Reality [Web edition]: The shortage of homes in Britain pre-dates the arrival of east European workers. Accession state workers do not qualify for council housing.
The Independent seems to believe that, given a pre-existing shortage of homes, an influx of perhaps 600,000 immigrants has had no effect on the availability of social housing. Even though the new migrants will not be directly occupying council flats, it seems scarcely credible that there wouldn't be a significant knock-on effect.
Claim: Mafia chiefs in Bulgaria are plotting to flood Britain with heroin, prostitutes and guns when they join the EU in January.
Reality: The Centre for the Study of Democracy, a Sofia-based think-tank, found the crime rate in Bulgaria was lower than the European average with crime rates falling by half between 2001 and 2004. It is now safer than Denmark and Australia.
Of interest is a report on this study by a Sofia newspaper, this report, which lists as one factor contributing to the decline "emigration of many criminals to the EU after the establishment of a visa-free regime with most European countries".
In any event, the Indy's "response" consists of yet another transparent avoidance of the issue, which has to do with organised crime, not the general crime rate. An Economist report from last October seems more to the point:
"More than 50 Bulgarian mobsters have died in car-bombings and shoot-outs in Sofia and other cities in the past three years. The pace is accelerating, with eight murders in the past three months. One reason is that Bulgaria is a conduit between Turkey and Europe for trafficking in people and drugs."
Claim: The UK is likely to surge up the league of favoured destinations for trafficked women and children once Romania and Bulgaria join the EU next year.
Reality: The US State Department recently welcomed Bulgarian efforts to crack down on trafficking, offering witnesses protection and allowing suspects to be extradited to stand trial abroad. The number of trafficking convictions in Bulgarian courts increased nearly fivefold in 2005 - up to 34.
As the Telegraph articleclearly points out, it is true that Romanian and Bulgarian authorities are taking steps to curb what is a huge problem in those countries. But the problem unquestionably remains - and to assume that the UK will not become a preferred destination for trafficked children once accession makes entry so much easier seems naive. The Independent's "reality" provides little encouragement.
Claim:A leaked government report warned that schools and hospitals will struggle to cope with an influx of people from eastern Europe.
Reality: Immigrants make up 8 per cent of the workforce but contribute 10 per cent of the UK's GDP. Ernst & Young reports they are net tax contributors - rather than a burden - to the public purse, easing the pensions bill through tax and keeping interest rates at least 0.5 per cent lower - equivalent to £500 a year on the average mortgage.
The Times' claim is a simple fact - a leaked government report did include such warnings. And the Indy once again deflects, turning the topic away from the pressure of new immigrants on schools and hospitals and onto GDP and tax contribution of all current immigrants, including those in high-paying jobs - unlike the vast majority of prospective immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania, whose contributions, if any, will almost certainly be considerably lower.
Claim: Britain will be swamped by up to 145,000 poverty-stricken migrants from Bulgaria and Romania who are expected to flock here once they join the EU.
Reality: Think-tank the IPPR estimates 56,000 will arrive from both countries in the first year - 41,000 of them from Romania. A Bulgarian government survey revealed only 2.9 per cent of its nationals planned to migrate.
Hmmm - let's see. Population of Bulgaria: 7,917,600. Multiply by 2.9%: 229,600. Interestingly, that figure represents almost exactly 1% of Romania's population, so an out-of-the-air assumption that only a third as many Romanians plan to leave leads to a total of 450,000 potential emigrants.
Given that Britain was one of only 3 EU states that unreservedly opened its doors to EU workers last time (the others being Sweden and Ireland), the statistic cited by the Indy seems to support the 145,000 claim - it certainly doesn't contradict it.
All in all, the reader expecting the exposé of media "lies" promised on the cover can't help but be cruelly disappointed, as in none of their attempts could the Indy researchers point to an actual untruth.
I always think that the Indy's headlines are the broadsheet equivalent of the girls' nudey shots to be found at the Star/Sport end of the market: both approaches pose as "news"; both claim to be revealing but are actually more revealing about the corrupt thought processes that put them there on the front page; and both are shameless in their grab for attention.