AN URBAN MYTH
For some time, the media has been full of stories about the large number of French people allegedly living in London. Clearly there has been some increase in the number of French people in Britain but is it really as many as the media makes out?
Surprisingly these statements about the alleged number of French people in London have generally not emanated from eurosceptics. You might think eurosceptics would be enthusiastic to point out that French young people are fleeing the EU social model, the high unemployment and static economy of the eurozone.
In fact, most of those putting forward exaggerated numbers of French people in London are strong EU integrationalists. It seems that the motivation is to put forward an example of the success of the free movement of people, a project close to the heart of the EU project as well as to multiculturalists. It also helps to distract from the real situation which is a massive influx of low earning or no-earning immigrants which reduces the wages of the lower paid and which requires an enormous appropriation from taxpayers to fund more infrastructures.
An indication of how the wealth of UK natives will be appropriated is shown by the sort of comments ‘respected’ commentators make in The Londoner, the house magazine of Ken Livingstone, indicating the scale of appropriation required to produce the necessary capital and wealth for immigrants.
According to Ian Barlow, a senior partner with KPMG:
“The amount of people using public transport in London is set to grow by more than a third in the next few years… Money must come forward [sic] for things like Crossrail. London also needs cheaper housing and more skills’ training.”
Tony Travers, the director of the Greater London Group of the London School of Economics, added:
“If London is to grow the way the government says it wants to, then [ministers must invest] in the capital’s infrastructure. Transport, schools, hospitals, roads and everything else that makes a city work will all have to have more money spent on them.”
Inadvertently those commentators reveal part of the real cost of immigration – massive appropriation from taxpayers to fund infrastructures.
In the latest edition of Prospect magazine (April 2007), Ken Livingstone again comes out with this frequently repeated urban myth about the numbers of French people in London. Speaking of London he said, ‘it’s because we’re a relatively open society and lots of young people from around the world want to come here … that’s why Nicholas Sarkozy included London on his campaign trail, because we’ve got 300,000 French people.’
This statement immediately seems unlikely. 300,000 French people in London means 10,000 in every borough. 10,000 French people in Sutton and Havering. No, Monsieur Livingstone, this does not seem right.
Time to check up to see if Livingstone knows what he is talking about.
Ken’s statement about the 300,000 French in London is one version of a whole series of media stories where all the facts vary except the 300,000 number.
Let’s look at some quotations:
“300,000 French citizens and voters (i.e. no children) in London” - Lord Wallace of Saltaire, (LibDemocrat) in the House of Lords, 30/1/07 [a Professor at the London School of Economics, no less]
“there are now 300,000 mostly young French people in London – economic refugees from a failing system”. - The Independent, 21/3/06
“There are said to be 300,000 French in London, mostly young people, etc. etc.” - British Embassy Paris website, 29/3/07
“Yesterday Sarkozy went off to London to try to bring back some of the 300,000 French people living and working there”. - Prospect magazine website, 31/1/07, Tim King, in his column, called ‘La France Profounde’
“London, where 300,000 French citizens work.” - Mark Leonard, Director of Centre for European Reform and former Director of the Foreign Policy Centre, on the New Statesman website. [He is modestly described in MarkLeonardnet as ‘one of the UK’s most visionary thinkers’ and author of ‘Why Europe will run the 21st Century’, a work funded by the German Marshall Fund. Of course, Mark Leonard has form in getting things wrong in his prognostications for Britain’s entry into, and success within, the Eurozone.]
Okay, note for the moment that all those quotations refer to London and to 300,000 French. But the 300,000 French are all different. To Mark Leonard they are all workers which implies that with 50 per cent extra for dependents (a figure I will discuss later) there are 450,000 French in London.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire’s figure refers to citizens and voters which means that it does not include children – let’s say 25 per cent more – so that brings the total French in his scenario to 375,000.
Among all these different figures, Livingstone seems quite modest and his figure agrees with The Independent, the British Embassy in Paris and Prospect magazine so you can see that Ken is simply re-circulating what is general media opinion. But hold on a moment, let’s look at what our national newspapers say.
“Between 200,000 and 300,000 French people live in Britain” - Guardian, 30/1/07
“Up to 300,000 French people now live in the UK – mainly in the capital” - Daily Telegraph, 22/02/07
These figures are startlingly different from Ken’s, since they cover the whole UK. After all, a substantial number of French people must live and work outside London, which only comprises 13 per cent of the UK population.
If The Telegraph and The Guardian’s figures are correct (and they differ), Livingstone, The Independent and the British Embassy must be seriously wrong.
Our final and most recent exhibit is Agnes Poirier in The New Statesman (9/4/07) who tells us that ‘more than two million French citizens settled abroad and 30% of them can be found in the UK, London in particular’. That makes 600,000 people. Later she refers to ‘the average age of the 150,000 French people living in London’. Her conflicting statistics leave one reeling at the innumeracy of the educated French journalist.
London has 7.5 million people. According to Livingstone (an unreliable source admittedly), 29 per cent are from ethnic minorities and, according to National Statistics, 16 per cent are pensioners. So, unless the French invasion comprises French pensioners retiring to UK nursing homes, or has many Martiniquais, we can discount, say, 44 per cent of London’s population (allowing a small reduction for ethnic pensioners). So that leaves us with 56 per cent of London’s 7.5 million, which is 4,200,000 people. Of these 300,000 are French, according to Livingstone, which is 7.14 per cent (1 in 14). So Livingstone seriously believes that 1 in 14 people (taking non-ethnic non-pensioners) in Barnet, Bexley and Kingston are French? Is every 14th house in Surbiton occupied by a French family?
Yes, but are there not a lot of French people in South Kensington? The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea only contains 160,000 people in total including pensioners and ethnic minorities and South Kensington (however defined) is one small part of the borough with at most 20,000 people in total. 300,000 young French thrusters cannot squeeze in there.
If you follow Livingstone’s excited rhetoric, supported by the British Embassy and Lord Wallace and the Independent, young people predominate in the French invasion.
So, if you meet a sample of young white people in Barking or Hounslow, more than 1 in 14 are French, maybe 1 in 10 - according to Lord Wallace - or, maybe, 1 in 9 – according to Mark Leonard.
Let’s be generous and concede Livingstone is passing on some figures he has read in the media. It’s a worry that Livingstone is circulating these statistics which look vastly exaggerated. It makes you wonder what other mistaken statistics he is basing his policies on.
What are the boring facts? The Labour Force Survey in 2005 ‘Foreign Labour in the UK’ by John Salt and Jane Miller of the Migration Research Unit at University College published by National Statistics, reckoned there were 1.5million foreign nationals working in the UK, of whom 682,000 were in London. In the whole UK it estimated that the number of French and German workers was 108,000 (about 70 per cent thought to be French). Around 14,000 French workers are issued a National Insurance number every year, which ties in with an estimate of about 75,000 French workers in the UK as a whole. It is thought this is the average stay for the young French thrusters.
On top of these figures you have to add non-workers. Since most of the French are supposed to be young thrusters, they will not have brought many dependents with them so an estimate of 50 per cent extra for dependents seems reasonably generous. So we get an estimate for the whole UK of 75,000 workers + 37,500 dependents = 112,500.
Eurostat estimated there were 59,000 French nationals living in the UK in 1990 so the figures of 112,500 seems a reasonable increase by 2005. According to the 2004 French Census (reported in the Daily Telegraph, 31/03/07), the figure for Britons in France increased from 50,000 to 100,000 in the five years to 2004. Guardian Unlimited reported in 30/1/07 that 109,000 French people were registered resident in the UK at the French Embassy and 60,000 had registered to vote in the French elections. Some French, no doubt, were not registered but state form filling is endemic in France (look at the French Embassy in London website) and, additionally, some registerees will have left the UK.
So it looks like there are around 110,000 to 120,000 French people in the UK. Around 43 per cent of foreign nationals work in London. So, let’s increase that to 50 per cent for French people and you have got 55,000 to 60,000 French people in London.
No doubt, the true figure could be somewhat greater or less than this but it in no way can match Livingstone’s figures (300,000), let alone those of Mark Leonard (an imputed 450,000) or Lord Wallace (an imputed 375,000).
Yes, I can believe that one in 70 people (excluding ethnics and pensioners) in Redbridge or Sutton is French, which is what the figure of, say, 60,000 French people would imply. It implies 2,000 French people live in each borough including Bexley and Hillingdon.
p.s. Despite a turnout of 84 per cent of eligible French voters, only 13,989 French voters actually voted in London on 6th May, according to Le Figaro.
FUTURUS/01 June 2007