This article on the BBC's website reveals how ministers can view official statistics twenty four hours earlier than the rest of the public so that they can create an adaquate response. As a result of this the general public often have little trust in the figures that are reported. Government statistics chief Sir Micheal Scholar believes that the UK should "move to a system in which everybody gets the figures at the same time," it does seem unjust that statistics can be warped by the very people that we should be able to trust.


The problem, I fear, is who employs and rewards the people who prepare the official statistics. As the oft-used Latin phrase asks "Who guards the guardians?" Government statisticians are, in theory, employed to serve the nation, but they are employed and rewarded by government. It is very hard for them to treat the ministers who commission their work as if they deserve no more or less than the electorate at large. That is, of course, what they should do, but few ministers in post war history have manipulated official data as ruthlessly or frequently as Prime Minister Brown. Remember the Golden Rule? Remember the accounting trick that keeps spending on public private partnerships (PPPs) off the current account? Yes, we should be able to trust our statisticians, but their political masters make their lives very difficult indeed.    

Dodgy politics... are statistics reliable?