After hubris, nemesis

One moment the Tory agitprop-pedlars are telling us how it’s all fine-and-dandy — a day or so ago there was a hysterical screech that “only the collapse of the housing market can save Labour”. Note, there, that houses are not homes where real people live, but exist primarily to be a marketable commodity.

Then a faint whiff of reality (accompanied by a shiver of fear) intrudes. One such is found in Isabel Hardman’s Speccie piece:

Government borrowing is up – the economic picture isn’t as rosy as the Tories say

It’s tempting given the optimistic mood on the Conservative benches at the moment to think that everything is just great with the economy. Not so, according to today’s borrowing figures from the ONS, which show that government borrowing was higher than expected: George Osborne borrowed £13.3bn in May, up £0.7bn from the same month last year, and much higher than the £9.35bn forecast. Tax receipts have been weaker than expected, which has contributed to higher net borrowing.

This is accompanied by a neat graph, which is superbly interactive in the original (but not so in this clip):


Ms Hardman, to her credit, may work for a scandal sheet of dubious pedigree; but she has a sharp nose to go with her appropriate surname.

Now, as I have been saying too frequently, and most recently in connexion with the unemployment numbers, I am profoundly suspicious of how we are being fed this Osborne Wirtschaftswunder. Below the encrusted gilding, there’s an awful lot of brass neck. John Rentoul makes just that point, borrowing graphs from  and this one from


This, as the original makes clear, is a typical “bad graph”— which is why, as indicated by the “close-up” there, it is the way the Department of Work and Pensions likes to present and mis-represent it.

HuffThose of us of a certain length-in-the-tooth remember Darrell Huff exposed just this kind of fraud, as far back as 1954. Amazingly, with updating, How to Lie with Statistics is still in print.

For it is a fraud. Since this particular example comes from the Department headed by Iain Duncan Smith, we should not be surprised by the sleight of hand. The only question about IDS’ handling of his Department is whether he is plain ignorant or malevolently deceptive.

The Treasury is up to the same tricks. When Martin Rowson borrowed Méret Oppenheim’s fur cup (it’s a pun, geddit?), he was being unduly generous:

Martin Rowson 07.07.2012


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Filed under Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., crime, economy, George Osborne, Isabel Hardman, The Spectator, Tories.

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