...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 5098: You Can Prove Anything With Statistics Un More Temps


Ho ho ho Merry Christmas, and here’s Pollyanna Toytown in the Grauniad telling us that the Conservatories want to eat babies.

Polly’s clearly getting worried that Mr Ed won’t be delivering her cushy peerage a victory for social democracy anytime soon, as her language gets less believable by the day.

Today she’s claiming that “Only one in forty new jobs is full time”, citing the Workers Revolutionary Party(!) rather than the press release from TUC who came up with this statistic, presumably because the TUC use the word “Net” rather than “New”, a small difference but a significant one.

The TUC have arrived at their figure by taking the Office for National Statistics numbers for the amount of people in employment in summer 2014 and comparing them with the numbers from the start of 2008, before Mr Frown’s Government ran face first into the biggest crash in history.

The Coalition government like to do this too, because it shows that a million more people have jobs now than before the economy was wiped out under Labour.

And the figures do show that twenty-five thousand more people are in full time employment now than in 2008, which is indeed 25,000/1,000,000 or 1/40 of the total increase.

Think about it for a moment and see if you spot the flaw in the reasoning before I tell you.

Yes, that’s 1/40 is of the extra new jobs, not all new jobs.

This makes the TUC’s headline somewhat hyperbolic, but at least with a figleaf of honesty in that, pardon me, “safety Net”.

To switch the “net” for “new” makes the headline say a whole other thing.

So the question becomes, is Polly stupid or lying? I have to say that citing the Workers Revolutionary Party – when she is neither worker nor particularly revolutionary, and not much of a party animal either; despite her aspirations to influence, the defector to and then from the SDP usually ends up in a party of one – suggests that she was looking for the headline to match her prejudice.

For Pollyanna’s claim to apply to “one in forty new jobs” she would have to be saying that not one single full time job has been lost under the Coalition.

It seems unlikely that Ms Toytown’s message is that the Coalition are paragons of preservation when it comes to employment.

In fact, Polly – and the Labour Party – put it about rather a lot that the Coalition have caused the loss of a great many full time jobs (by implication “proper” jobs) and replaced them with part-time zero-hour (substandard) serfdom. And that is what this “one in forty” claim is trying to back up, to make you think.

But the figures actually show that just as many people (actually slightly more) have full time jobs now than before the Credit Crunch.

And there are a lot more people in part-time and self-employed jobs, who were previously without work at all.

Of course it’s not that simple. Some people who were in full-time jobs have lost them and not got new ones are now in part time work or unemployed. There’s genuine hardship and suffering about. And the real value – after inflation – of the wages from those full-time jobs may not be as much as they used to be in 2008 because we’ve been sharing the pain so that fewer people lose their jobs. We mustn’t forget that.

But Hard Labour cynically seek to capitalize on this politically by calling it their “Cost of Living Crisis”.

The recent cross-party report on hunger in the UK was remarkably fair and non-partisan. But again, almost immediately Hard Labour went for the self-interested spin and started crying crocodile tears over the “shame” of Britain’s Food Banks. (Germany, in fact, has more people using food banks.)

This point-scoring for their own ends undermines efforts to help end hunger. Labour don’t just put their own interests ahead of fixing things; they actually make things worse.

Polly Toynbee no doubt justifies her mendacity with the thought that Labour are “good” and so anything to get them into power, no matter how dishonest or harmful, must be “good”.

No doubt David Milipede justified British complicity in CIA torture with much the same reasoning.

Previously, Statistics Part Un

and Part Deux


Jen said...

Germany has, I think, more people in the first place. Do they have more people using foodbanks, or more people as a proportion of all their people?

Either way any discussion of foodbanks in the UK that doesn't mention how it's much easier to have foodbanks when the supply of food to them is no longer restricted as it was under Hard Labour, and when people (as in Manchester) who try to provide help for those in need are not threatened by Hard Labour councils with prosecution for doing so!

Jen said...

(My second para seems to have got in a bit of a muddle there but I think the meaning is clear enough!)