Originally posted by squarepusher
Its a very annoying part of politics, especially between Labour and Conservatives, they use different sets of statistics when debating the same
subjects, such as crime, health, education, employment.
PM's Questions gets VERY dull, when you watch both sides reel out their own statistics, showing how they are right and the other side is wrong.
It's all a matter of interpretation in my opinion, even when two politically opposed politicians use the same set of statistics they will still come
out with two opposing conclusions.
It's fairly safe for me to say, most people have trouble believing what a politician says nowadays, the language that they use, how they answer a
question without actually answering it. I think thats more of a problem than statistics, what we need is more transparency, not more statistics.
- Where is the surprise in any of this?
This is what our politicians do.
We in the UK have an adversarial political system in the UK with a voting proceedure which works against co-operation and the co-opting into power of
parties other than the single main dominant one.
In fact our system is practically designed
around having a single dominent party.
Our system is so adversarial that when a party is ejected from power they then start complaining about the behaviour of the new party in power even
though they are only doing what went before!
Are people here all too young to remember Thatcher and her PMQ's?
They were almost entirely a prolonged hectoring with endless selective statistics.
In that regard Tony Blair truely is not a patch on Thach.
How about John Major's grey droning on and on with stats?
Let's face it; PMQ's is entirely theatre.
It is, despite the claims made of it, not
about holding the gov to account, that happens in the select committees where the time and expertise
for proper examination is available.
(depending on the quality of the committee(s).....but then who is really that interested in hearing expert witnesses account for the differences in
widget 'a' versus widget 'b', hmmm? Compared to that
PMQ's is actually exciting!
The business where a handful of questions for the leaders of the other parties and a single go by every other MP is purely for the TV and anyone who
imagines it could be otherwise (in that format) is just kidding themselves.
When Labour are in power tories get upset at the use of PMQ's and statistics etc which labour will, not unnaturally, attempt to forward to show
themselves in as good a light as possible.
The same but reversed happened when the tories were in power.
As for statistics themselves?
Well we're coming down with statistics. There is no shortage of them. the trick is what they are based upon, what was the question asked and as with
all these things it is here that the problems arise.
The fact is that no official statistics here are false or faked (I cannot think of a single case of that in decades under any gov) but they
undoubtedly get manipulated as far as concluding what they mean goes.
That's why whatever the failings of the individual method or stat it is probably best to keep on using the same set.
They should be consistent and the same for everyone even if they aren't as comprehensive as a new lot.
For instance, this is why this gov can point to stats and say that crime is down compared to what has gone before......but that doesn't settle
anything as the arguement then just moves on to under-reporting or some such standby.
There is no conclusive answer to this if things stay as they are with our 'system'.
.....and when people just don't like the statistics? They just claim they're either wrong, out of date, not showing the new worsening trend.....or
that things should be much better! (my personal current fav)....blah blah blah, anything
in fact to deny any progress.
There is not a lot of scope for nailing down black and white answers to a lot of politics.
The opposition will always attempt to say the gov is doing badly and the gov will always be relied upon to say it is either doing well or the best
that can be achieved under the circumstances.
It won't be changing until we change the system that gives rise to this version of politics.
If we move to a more proportional collegiate kind of politics as they have in much of continental Europe we might see a different culture develop but
Oh and UK Wizard as for "Tory War on Fiddling the Figures"
; very funny. You keep coming up with such hilarious and ironic titles, good job.
[edit on 10-12-2004 by sminkeypinkey]