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Nov. 30th, 2010

Earlier this year the Conservatives claimed that 54 per cent of girls in deprived areas were likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18. As I have suggested, this revealed not only poor mathematical skills but a welter of uninformed prejudices—you can bet that even when the figures were corrected, there was a lot of dark muttering among the party faithful about how they knew the true scale of the problem.

That was a harbinger of their governing style. Now that they’re in power, they’re not working too hard to dispel the impression that they’re practising what the Labour MP for Westminster, Karen Buck, has labelled “government by anecdote”:
Baroness Hanham [Con]: There is more than a suspicion that rents have risen quite substantially on the back of knowing that housing benefit will be paid. Rents are now very high; they rose substantially during the previous Government's reign, and that is where we are now with the level that they are at.

Lord McKenzie of Luton [Lab]: I apologise for interrupting the Minister. Is she suggesting that the policy was built around a suspicion about the impact of housing benefit on rents, or was there evidence that supported that suspicion?

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, there is a suggestion. I think I will put it like that. [Hansard]
In a debate on the recent report on health and safety, Common Sense, Common Safety, Baroness Turner pointed out that the evidence in the report itself flatly contradicts what the Prime Minister writes in its foreword:
Baroness Turner of Camden [Lab]: “A damaging compensation culture has arisen”, the Prime Minister says. He also says that “the standing of health and safety in the eyes of the public has never been lower”, yet the report makes it clear that, although this may be a perception, the reality is very different. For example, under the heading, “Annex D: Behind the myth: the truth behind health and safety hysteria in the media”, some of the stories that appeared in the media are repeated and shown to be quite untrue. I hope that we do not have more legislation based not on fact but on perception created by media misrepresentation. It is in everyone’s interest that workplaces should be as safe as possible. [Hansard]
Meanwhile, official correction seems to follow official correction as ministerial figures are shown to be wonky, and there are accusations that policy has been based more on supposition than on fact. Still, as long as everyone involved is sensible and has a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the world around them, that’s bound to be all right. I mean, if the people at the helm were just a bunch of millionaires barking pet theories and stale prejudices at each other as they stripped money and help from the vulnerable while quietly protecting those who were already pretty well cushioned, that would obviously be a disaster. But I think we can trust the good old British public not to let that happen at an election.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
But I think we can trust the good old British public not to let that happen at an election.

And in a way, they kind of didn't. That's what makes it all so delicious. The Coalition are doing a brilliant job!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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