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Migration Observatory: Independent and Evidence-Based

13 Apr 2013

Today the Daily Mail – a British tabloid newspaper – features an attack on the independence of the Migration Observatory. This attack is unfounded. The Observatory is, and will remain, committed to independent analysis of data relating to immigration and other migration issues affecting the UK.

Through this approach we have earned a reputation as a leading independent source of data and analysis on migration issues in the UK. Our work has been referenced by politicians from all parties in the House of Commons and in news stories in outlets of all political persuasions – including the Daily Mail. The issue of immigration is highly polarising in the UK – as in many countries – and as such we have been keen to ensure that all voices are heard and considered in the work that we do. The Observatory’s media advisory board, which is referenced in the Daily Mail article, was designed to ensure that the Observatory received ideas and guidance from a range of media. The Daily Mail’s Jack Doyle attended the first meeting, along with journalists from the Guardian, Sunday Telegraph and the Economist. The Observatory had hoped that the Daily Mail would continue to play an active role in this body to ensure that its perspective was voiced and reflected in our work. We were disappointed when it did not do so, but the offer remains open – a point we have reiterated both before and after the last time that the newspaper attempted to attack our credibility. The Migration Observatory’s independence should be judged based on the work we have produced and on our history of thoughtful, evidence based analysis. We analyse all available data and evidence and are not driven by any perspective either for or against migration. Our funding has always been transparent and the list of our core funders has always been published on our website. The Daily Mail story is not based on any criticism of any of the work that we have undertaken but on some of the bodies that have funded the Migration Observatory. At no point have we ever allowed, or would we ever allow, the opinions of our funders to influence the independence of our work. None have ever made any effort to do so. It has been said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. This clichéd observation is particularly important in an area as inflammatory and polarising as migration. To have a high-quality public debate about policy, it is essential that all participants have access to reliable factual information, as well as an understanding of the limitations of the evidence base. The Migration Observatory, with our rigorous independence and access to world-leading researchers at the University of Oxford, has begun to play a key role in this regard, providing accurate information to participants in the debate across the political spectrum.

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