Damn the lies, save the statistics

Mark Twain apparently attributed the phrase “ Lies, Damned lies and statistics”  to Conservative PM Benjamin Disraeli  although there is no known reference to this in Disraeli’s writings. Nice quote though and plenty of people have used it since! 

It also sometimes reflects either lazy thinking or deflection from a position that is statistically indefensible. 

I suppose, I should begin by congratulating Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss on getting through the significant barrier of their own peers to the point at which the Conservative and Unionist  Party ” in the Country ” will now anoint one as our next PM . 

I should confess that I have no preference for either of them. 

The significance of my endorsement for either would be statistically too small to record, so it is not that  I am being careful in my endorsement. It is just that since both were in Johnson’s Cabinet and neither had the guts to contradict him until it was in their interests, I don’t feel well inclined towards either. Conservatives it seems do not do irony, but folks it is not ironic that both of you are now deploring the polices that you endorsed until a fortnight ago? Perhaps people should remember that?

No, I’m not endorsing you because it is the anointing bit that really gets up my nose. ( I looked for a better way of expressing that but, gave up.) 

Here is where we get down to the statistics . 

The Conservative Party is coy about how many members it has and especially how many it has in Scotland. For the UK as  whole  I’ve seen 100,000 and  a rather-too-neat-to-be-believable, figure of 200,000 Tory members. I have  also seen a possibly more believable 180,000 so I’ll be generous and assume they have 190,000. 

So with a UK voting electorate of 47.6 million ( as of March 2020) our next PM will be anointed by 0.4% ( roughly) of the electorate .

Assuming that there are roughly 8.2% of the Tory electorate in Scotland ( based on an even spread of Conservatism across the nations and that is dubious,  so very generous ) we can assume that just under 16,000 Conservative voters in Scotland will be in a position to “anoint.” There are  4, 029,600 registered to vote in Scotland so roughly again 0.4% of the electorate. Except that is not quite true because I’d guess the Conservative voters would not approve of 16-18 years old being on the list. That is around 73,000 of you disenfranchised, something you might want to recall if you are 16 ….you will  be 18 at the time of the next election . If we get that far.

Some more statistics ? There are 6 Conservative MPs out of 59 in Scotland, that is 10.17% of Scottish MPs. How representative are they elsewhere ? Ironically they do very well in the  devolved Parliament  that they so disapprove of , where they have 31 out of 129 or 24% MSPs due to the list system, but only 17.4% of Councillors.

So expressed in different statistical samples this is the, significant blue minority that will anoint the next PM . 

Is there another way of rephrasing either Disraeli, or was it Twain ? 

“ Those are the statistics, we know who the liars are, and with the exception of the Scottish Parliament  we are all damned to be ruled in Scotland by an undemocratically elected minority.”  

But then that has been true of Conservative rule over Scotland since 1955, perhaps the fact that we do not reflect that more vociferously is due to the time we have had to get used to it?  Or is Scotland just outstandingly reasonable? It is hard to tell. But the unreasonableness of being asked to accept what would be seen as unconscionable in any other democracy,  is wearing thin . 

The standard argument of course to this bizarre way of changing leaders mid term without a general election is the ethically  dubious   assertion “ we have a mandate from the last election to do as we wish .” However since they also said that their mandate was gained for them by someone who they have disposed of, how strong can that argument be ? 

It doesn’t get much better If you consider  that Truss, who (staggeringly for someone who literally couldn’t find her way out of a room with one exit) is topping Tory polls as the anointed one. She it seems wants to trash Tory economic policy and throw their manifesto out of the window. Just the bits she disapproves of course  so she can introduce populist policies that will save her skin in 2 years time.

Mandate? I see no mandate. 

We won’t get an election because they know they would be punished by an electorate who has despised the lies  of their last leader and which squints knowingly at the record of Conservative MPs who ousted him but supported him for too long . 

These turkeys will not vote for Christmas . 

So I have probably just wasted half an hour of my time typing this. 

But I do believe in political incrementalism, i.e. your lies eventually catch up with you. So  to coin a phrase  :- 

“Hasta Lavista Baby “ to the lot of you.  

“ Damn the lies , save the statistics .” 

You saw it first here 

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7 replies »

  1. I’ve had all sorts of thoughts about those two – I’m going to say it – the two people competing to be next PM of Britain are a brown-skinned person and a woman – it shouldn’t really be seen as exceptional, but it is, and I would normally be delighted. I imagine that many brown-skinned people and women would also normally be delighted.
    BUT – look at them – it’s those two we’re talking about. He’s a vacillating multi-millionaire who until recently wasn’t even sure which nation he wanted to be a citizen of.
    My problem with The Truss is that she has an air of hysteria about her. One of my sisters was a Psychiatric nurse for many years, and had a way of looking at someone and saying – “That one’s an hysteric – look at the eyes.” When I look at, or listen to, Liz Truss – I see an hysteric.

    None of this is reassuring re. who will be next leader of the Conservative party – and therefore, for a time at least, next PM of Britain.
    Though – how the hell is that happening anyway? Adding it all up – the party, and it’s leader, should be out. To quote Gil Scott Heron again…

    “Well, the first thing I want to say is: Mandate my ass!
    Because it seems as though we’ve been convinced that 26% of the registered voters, not even 26% of the American people, but 26% of the registered voters form a mandate or a landslide
    21% voted for Skippy and 3, 4% voted for somebody else who might have been running.”

    As you said, Steve, I’m also wondering is there a lot of point in my even writing this – but – well it’s what I do – can’t do much else really, too knackered! http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp

    • All Sunak has experience of is working as an analysist for Goldman Sachs and as a hedge fund manager
      Meanwhile Kate Forbes worked as an accountant for Barclays Bank.

  2. To run Scotland’s economy they would need to understand Scotland and neither seem to have that capability or there than Truss saying that Paisley was not to her taste

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