The tired but often true quip about there being “lies, damned lies, and statistics” was pointed up yesterday when the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole of the Guido Fawkes blog, the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere, decided to call out Mil The Younger for an assertion he had thrown at Young Dave during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
Discovery of the figures?
Miliband told that youth unemployment had not exceeded one million under the previous Labour Government. That seems a pretty unambiguous statement, but as with so much in politics, these matters are never cut and dried. That, though, was a thought that Staines and Cole did not allow to enter, as they dug up some numbers that appeared to show otherwise.
This enabled the Fawkes blog to claim that the Commons had been misled, and to issue a routine smear of Yvette Cooper, because she has committed the heinous crime of being married to “Auguste” Balls, who is a favourite hate figure of Staines and Cole. Sad to say, though, there is sufficient wriggle room in the Miliband assertion for him to bodyswerve the accusation.
As one Zelo Street regular pointed out, it very much depends which numbers you use. A quick perusal of the Office Of National Statistics (ONS) website brings you to series “A06: Educational status and labour market status (employment, unemployment and inactivity) of people aged from 16 to 24”. An Excel spreadsheet containing the data may be downloaded.
And this is an extract from the “seasonally adjusted” levels, showing the figures for 2009: at no point does the number of unemployed exceed 944,000. Now, I’m sure that Staines and Cole will claim that their numbers are authoritative, but as Mandy Rice-Davies once said, they would say that, wouldn’t they? If the less than dynamic duo had been defending the accusation, they’d have no trouble with these figures.
Moreover, they’ll be getting no apology from the opposition front bench, nor will Mil The Younger be summoned to the Commons by Speaker Bercow. But, unlike the Fawkes blog’s intervention in Phonehackgate, at least someone there did a few minutes’ research this time. You never know, it could be catching ...