Do you know the truth about immigration? Or anything?


January 12, 2014 by Adam Smith

Credit: datenglish on flickr

Credit: datenglish on flickr

**Update: voting now closed – results here!**

The BBC’s Nick Robinson smirked his way through a documentary last week, claiming to tell viewers the truth about immigration. Most of us get the truth wrong, according to an Ipsos Mori survey last year, which found that the public think 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figure is 13% (even estimates that attempt to account for illegal immigration suggest a figure closer to 15%). And yet our perceptions are what fuel the ongoing public and political debate about immigration, such as the hysterical fear last year that the nation was about to see a catastrophic influx of Romanians and Bulgarians.

The Independent quipped that the Mori survey, which covered other things such as crime and benefit fraud, showed how the British public are wrong about nearly everything. Most of the time it’s difficult to separate perceptions from reality – but that should be easier in the Rational Parliament. As people who have been to one our sittings know, the Rational Parliament balances views and values alongside rigorous research evidence from publicly funded academics.

It sounds like it’d be fun to debate immigration at our next sitting. Or maybe the idea of a mandatory living wage. Or assisted dying. Now I’m starting to plan the next sitting of the Rational Parliament, I need to know what you think. This is the first time I’ve opened up the choice of topic to the vote, but I’m sure you agree that we should try to push democracy into every corner of this project as much as we can.

Several people have tweeted or emailed me to say what they’d like us to debate next, so I’ve produced a shortlist below. Please vote! And if you have any suggestions for academics or other participants I could invite to the debate based on these topics, please comment below or contact me.

The sitting itself is likely to be in February, but I don’t have any details yet. Make sure you’re signed up to this mailing list to receive info when the date is set and tickets are on sale.

Your clerk,



One thought on “Do you know the truth about immigration? Or anything?

  1. […] 52 % of the vote, by far the most popular topic for our next debate is the living wage and basic income guarantee […]

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