Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

It seems to be a week for all three. I had to laugh yesterday at the clip I saw of the Scottish leaders address to the Liberal Democrats conference. Not only was the speech pitifully poorly attended, those that were there seemed to be napping, on mobile gadgets or reading agendas. When he said that the SNP were not going to win the next Holyrood election because of the hard work of Lib Dem activists and their supporters, a very feeble trickle of applause was heard. Now I am not saying that there is no way the SNP can lose, of course that is always possible. But to lose because of the Lib Dems, really?? You got to admit though that Willie Rennie has got telling porkies down to a seamless art.

Then we have the UK Scottish Secretary. Now I may be wrong but was he not telling us a short time ago that Brexit would be wonderful? Not only would we retain control over the areas we have but that there would be more powers to come from Europe? It seems pretty clear that they have no idea what is going to happen. He said “we are clear that we will devolve powers unless there is a reason not to”. Clear as mud then! The UK Cabinet are spread around the world at the moment telling other countries about their own individual visions of Brexit and trying to negotiate trade deals. Why would these other countries be more keen than Europe to negotiate trade deals before they find out what the UK has to trade with? Have they no understanding that news travels very fast around the world. People can see that Theresa is telling a different tale to that of Boris and that Mundell continues to be very vague about everything?

Now we have Vince Cable asking the SNP to support his campaign for a second EU referendum. Was he not among the many unionists who told us the Independence referendum could not be re-run? Why, therefore, is it ok to re-run the EU one? Could it be because he agreed with the outcome of one but not the other?

Finally for the statistics! There is a new paper out by Professor Jim Gallagher on spending priorities. If you want to read it you can download it from here:  nuffield.ox.ac.uk

All sorts of people have been spinning the numbers around to make their particular claims. This was written by a Professor at an Oxford University and published in the Times. The author was an advisor to the Better Together campaign. The summary on the university website states

High public spending in Scotland compared to England has often been the subject of controversy. Less attention has been given to where this money goes, the different public spending choices made in Scotland compared to England, and how the relativities have changed over time. The working paper examines the data on public spending in Scotland to identify overall trends, and the relative priorities of devolved government in Scotland compared to England. (A similar analysis can be done for Wales and Northern Ireland.)

The data confirm that overall spending relativities have not changed over time, contrary to what might have been expected from the operation of the Barnett formula, and that devolved government has demonstrated some different spending priorities, some explicitly announced and others detectable only by seeing where money has not been spent.

The significant phrase is demonstrated some different spending priorities. As England look to us for examples of how they can improve health and social issues for their own people all the media can do is pick out figures and twist them around to knit pick about their pet little projects. It’s true enough you can make statistics say anything. Sadly most of us don’t have time to go read the full documents and rely on the media to give us the jist. Even when we know what they are up to we still get taken in at times.

1 Comment

  1. Added to ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’ I would add arrogance. The Unionist establishment floats on the stuff having been blinded by a history of empire and ruthless domination over its opposition.
    However I do believe there is a powerful force waiting in the wings which has yet to be fully realised. I am referring to the energy in those young people who were denied a vote in the EU referendum simply because they were under 18 years old. Once they and all of us can demonstrate the Remainers would unquestionably have won had the former not been cheated with condescension, there should be a march on Wastemonster to force another referendum.
    It’s Scotland’s young people – bringing mayhem to May-hem – who may save us all and future generations from descending to hell in a handcart!

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