“There are lies, damned lies and statistics”, Mark Twain once said and when it comes to politics, it often rings true. As a general rule, politicians fiddle around with statistics until it supports their case rather than the other way round. This means that the government largely sticks to its ideological course rather than review the numbers and change direction.
The most recent example is that of the British Chancellor, George Osborne, claiming to increase capital investment in 2015/16 to boost economic growth in today’s ‘Spending Review’. He announced it would rise by an astonishing £50 billion. However, in the midst of ascending hopes within the construction industry, it quickly became clear that Osborne had changed the statistics to fit his lie.
In more detail, instead of net investment, he used the measurement of gross and once one takes a detailed look at the numbers, the policy quickly becomes a complete and utter farce. The promised £50 billion gross investment is, according to the OBR, just under the planned £50.4bn in 2015/16.
Do politicians think the public is that stupid? The UK government clearly thinks it is.