There’s a rather interest piece of linguistic legerdemain on the Telegraph’s website:
One in four babies born in the UK now have a foreign mother or father, Government figures have revealed.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the year to July 2006 showed the proportion of babies born to a foreign parent has risen to 25 per cent compared with 20 per cent in 2001.
I wonder if the ONS has ever thought of compiling statistics on stroke incidence rates in conservatives following the publication of stories like us? It’s a thought…
…however, if one looks a little further down the page - a matter of only a paragraph or so - one finds a rather important word has been omitted from the Telegraph’s opening gambit:
A number of trends have produced the rise, including an increase in births to both UK-born mothers and foreign-born women, an ONS spokesman said.
“We have figures for the contribution of mothers and fathers born abroad and that has risen slightly from under 20 per cent in 2001 to slightly over 25 per cent now,” he said.
“That reflects the cumulative effect of immigration over the last 40 years.”
So despite the obvious implications of the reference to ‘a foreign mother or father’ - i.e. that we’re dealing exclusively with people who are not British citizens - what the statistics actually deal with is people who were merely born in a foreign country, which will include those who are not British citizens, of course, but also those British citizens who were born overseas but whose families later returned to the UK and anyone who may have once been a foreign national but who has since naturalised as a British citizen either by choice or by way of marriage to a British citizen.
Before the obligatory ‘we’re being swamped by furriners’ nonsense kicks off, its well worth pointing out that ‘foreign born’ and ‘not British’ are by no means synonymous.