Should Theresa May resign, or be caused to resign, the Tory leadership in the near future, a number of hopefuls will be lined up ready to make their pitch for the job. One of them is the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, whose potential candidacy is being taken seriously by Tories themselves, even if most people would rather have none of it.
Raab, who was one of the co-authors of Britannia Unchained, the book which achieved notoriety by making the claim “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world”, has not covered himself in glory elsewhere. He famously told a Victoria Derbyshire live show, in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, that those using food banks were not poor, but merely experiencing “cash-flow problems”.
This, though, was a mere hors d’oeuvres for the far more substantial entrée of crashing ignorance he displayed during his tenure as Brexit secretary, when telling “he ‘hadn't quite understood’ how reliant UK trade in goods is on the Dover-Calais crossing”.
As the BBC had reported, “The Brexit Secretary's remarks came at a technology conference as he discussed the ‘bespoke arrangement’ the UK sought with the EU after it leaves the bloc … Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman suggested Mr Raab ‘doesn't even understand the very basics of Brexit’ … Conservative pro-Remain MP Nicky Morgan tweeted: ‘Gulp.’” So his latest faux pas should not have come as a surprise.
Tweeting out a graph showing average wage levels in the UK since 2008, he proclaimed “ONS data showing real wages rising at fastest rate in 10 years ... is good news for working Britain”. Except it wasn’t, because it didn’t.
Jonathan Portes, who, as a Professor of Economics at KCL knows a thing or two about sums, was unimpressed. “Can @DominicRaab genuinely be that innumerate? This graph shows nothing of the sort. This would be a relatively easy GCSE maths question … This is a graph showing *real* wages. Real wage growth was considerably faster in 2016 than now. This isn't hard”. Raab had goofed. But where had he received his bum steer?
Ah well. As with so much in the field of politics, it is never a good idea to trust borderline Fake News propagandists to tell the correct story. And the prompt for Raab’s maths fail came from one of the least reliable borderline Fake News outlets going.
The day before he issued his Twitter proclamation, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog had posted “Employment Highest Since Records Began”, which contained this nugget of Iron Pyrite: “Wages are also up by 3.3%, the fastest rise in a decade”. The ONS actually said “Total pay in nominal terms increased by 3.3%, the annual growth rate has not been higher since May to July 2008”.
But nominal and real wages are not the same thing. Raab had posted a graph showing real wages. As Portes pointed out, their rise was considerably faster in 2016 than now.
And this man is considered Prime Ministerial material. Be afraid, voters. Be very afraid.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at