Michael Millar

Lies, Darling lies and statistics

Lies, Darling lies and statistics
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Alistair Darling’s stubborn refusal to accept the economic statistics in front of him is getting a bit silly. Now anyone can prove something with stats - two out of three people know that - but Mr Darling’s insistence that the UK economy will grow by up to 2.25% in 2008 in the face of what everyone else is saying is not bolstering the government, just undermining its credibility.

The IMF says the economy can hope to grow by 1.6% this year (revised down from 2.3% in October so watch out for further revisions) and 1.6% in 2009. The Chancellor still thinks we could get up to 2.75% next year. The CBI has lowered its expectations several times in the last few months and is now at 1.8% this year, and 1.7% for 2009.

Darling said again and again in an excellent interview with Evan Davis on the Today Programme (see link above) that “we cannot be complacent”, but sticking to figures that appear outdated in a rapidly changing environment seems to be exactly that. He also kept comparing today’s debt figures with those of the early 90’s, which is only of use to politicians and no use to the rest of us whatsoever, and steadfastly ignores the  fact that UK household debt/income ratio is the highest in the G7.

It’s no use being right when everybody else is wrong.

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