Spinwatch – or Migration Watch?


Simon Ross accepting the Population Institute award for best web-journalism at the OPT blog

For the last month, much of SpinWatch has been written by the anti-immigration campaigner Simon Ross. Ross, a ‘management consultant’ who works for the Optimum Population Trust is known for his anti-immigration views.       

Ross is thrilled that the British National Party pushed mainstream parties into arguing for more immigration controls, on the grounds that ‘Britain is full’.   One unhappy OPT member worried that ‘our cause is pretty much hopeless. Not one of the major political parties even addresses the problems caused by over-population here in the UK …I think all OPT is achieving is preaching to the converted, and I am starting to question why I am even a member.’      

Simon Ross, though, said ‘let me put the positive case’:      

Immigration has become an issue in the election and both leading parties are arguing for lower immigration, which is a major change from a few years ago. The smaller parties are even more explicit with UKIP and BNP both arguing for drastic restrictions      


Eh, what? Did you just say that? The British National Party is arguing for drastic restrictions in immigration, the mainstream parties are going along with that, and that is what Simon Ross calls ‘the positive case’.       

Not content with demanding tougher immigration controls, Simon Ross also wants to see benefits to families cut: ‘Yes…It’s not just the child grant system, it’s access to scarce and cheap (subsidised) houses if you have children’.        

Ross has used SpinWatch to defend the Optimum Population Trust against those critics who point out that it is anti-immigrant, as  well as writing hundreds of pages witchhunting leftists who do not share his anti-immigration stand.       

Richard Seymour heard Ross give an ‘insultingly poor’ talk for the Optimum Population Trust last year: ‘Ross glibly asserting that more people equals more mouths and a greater carbon footprint’. Seymour concluded ‘When the system fails people, the bourgeoisie instinctively responds by blaming those people for being inadequate and supernumerary to the system’s requirements’. He also pointed out that ‘Some of its [the OPTs] leading members are also connected to the racist think-tank Migration Watch’ – and to SpinWatch. 

This is what SpinWatch contributor Simon Ross thinks about immigration:      

OPT notes the recent House of Lords committee report that immigration has brought no overall benefit to the UK. We welcome recent Government measures to restrict immigration. However, migration monitoring is weak. Additionally, there is no control over intra-EU migration, and no target for net migration has been set. OPT urges the Government to improve monitoring, work with other EU Governments to further limit immigration to the EU, and set a target of zero net migration for the UK. (Eco-Towns: Living a Greener Future? Submission by the Optimum Population Trust in response to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation by Andrew Gill, Simon Ross and Richard Wilson, June 2008)



One group that has embraced the Optimum Population Trust message with gusto

Since it was first published last year, SpinWatch’s page on the Optimum Population Trust has been tweaked and amended ninety times. Pointedly, the changes are mostly sanitising the Trust, by removing the more critical comments that were originally posted.

These are some of the deletions.

Back in December the original, lively and information-packed post put up by SpinWatch contributor Miriam Rose said:

A number of upper class environmentalists (much of the demographic of the OPT) have been associated with anti-immigration policies which have been criticised as ‘protectionist’ or even ‘eco-fascist’ and potentially related to the territorial nature of their landowning roots.

Citing as an authority Donald Gibson Environmentalism: Ideology and Power, Nova publishers (2002). But this has been removed.

The December version, also put up by Miriam Rose, repeated the arguments in the May 2009  Sunday Times article ‘Billionaire club in bid to curb population’

that business leaders and mega-wealthy individuals were jumping on the population reduction train, identifying the growing population as the number one social and environmental issue (and one which they argue is mostly the fault of the developing nations).

But again, these criticisms proved to be too persuasive, so they were removed by SpinWatch manager Claire Robinson. 

Miriam Rose’s earlier version had this clearly stated objection to the OPT:

I have a problem with the line that people are a problem. More people are a good thing. People are the source of creativity, intelligence, analysis and problem-solving. If we see people as just simple things that consume and excrete carbon, then the OPT may have a point, but people are more than this and they will be the ones to find the solutions. (The original quote is from the Times, here)

But this is one critic of the Optimum Population Trust in particular that Claire Robinson had to edit out of history at any cost, namely Austin Williams – traduced elsewhere for the thought-crime of being  ‘associated with the libertarian anti-environmental LM network’.

So why is SpinWatch whitewashing the Optimum Population Trust?

The short answer is that SpinWatch supports the Optimum Population Trust. At first, we, here at SpinWatch-Watch assumed that the appearance of OPT communications manager Simon Ross on the SpinWatch roster must have been some kind of recent infiltration. Surely, we reasoned, SpinWatch could not knowingly play host to a bluntly anti-immigrant campaign.

We were wrong. SpinWatch’s manager Claire Robinson is herself a supporter of the anti-migration Optimum Population Trust – and has asked Ross in to help her out making the site more robustly deep green and reactionary.


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