back to article Stats Agency savages Brown over immigration claims

The UK Statistics Agency has teeth and it is prepared to use them. The latest high-profile victim of the Agency is none other than Gordon Brown, who was taken to task yesterday for misleading voters with his selective use of statistics on immigration. Last month, the UK Statistics Agency (UKSA) warned politicians that it would …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Lies, damn lies...

    and Browns government

    Come on, name the date you will all be gone!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That quote

      "Lies, damn lies and Browns government".

      I think what you actually mean is:

      Lies, damn lies and Brown.

      He's been proven to be a liar time and time again.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The UK Statistics Agency has teeth and it is prepared to use them. The latest high-profile victim of the Agency is none other than Gordon Brown, who was taken to task yesterday for misleading voters with his selective use of statistics on immigration."

    No that wasn't "selective use of statistics". That would be where you're careful about what statistics you include so as to present a particular picture. What Brown did was what is more usually called "lying", in political circles this is often referred to as "misleading the public" although in new labour speak this is referred to as "making a genuine error" or possibly "acting in good faith".

    The genuine error that was made was thinking that nobody would notice that he was lying. He had faith that nobody would call attention to his lies.

    I don't think Brown is worse than Blair as a prime minister (I don't think that's possible) I just think he's worse at misleading the public. Blair would probably have told the same lie, but made damn sure that there was a much bigger story around with which to bury the exposure of his lie. Brown has never mastered that particular skill.

  3. breakfast Silver badge

    The BCS

    The Conservatives criticise the British Crime Survey as a source of data on crime because it doesn't include murder statistics.

    This is because it is a survey of victims of crime. It transpires that murder victims are hard pressed to fill in surveys.

    This notion is too complicated for the party most likely to be our next government to understand.

    We're doomed.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The BCS

      Ok, and so just becuase a corpse cant fill in a survey the BCS doesnt count a murder as a crime..

      possibly manslaughter too? How about the survey talking to any other victims of the murder - perhaps the next of kin.. as you say easier than a dead body!

      Seems sensible to me a crime survey that ignores the one (or two) most severe crimes in the UK statute book, is a little shall we say poor?

      Doomed - pah - the four horsemen of the apocalypse are inbound and have been for some time.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Firstly ...

      Why are the Tories criticizing the British Computer Society ?

      Secondly why don't they ask Russel Grant to collect data from murder victims?

      Thirdly how do I set Firefox to check for English (UK) spelling?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


    3. not'known@this.address

      Murder <=> Victimless crime

      So some [expletive deleted] murders lunch - does that mean tea, supper and midninght snack just go on as if nothing has happened? Or are they, and anyone else who knew the victim, or stumbled onto the body, or is in some other way affected, do not count?

      Who is pimping out the victims' details for the BCS to contact them? Cos either someone is giving out information that is probably *not* in a victim's best interest, or the BCS is getting data from, ooh, I don't know - maybe the Police? Either way, surely youy can see that a crime HAS been committed, even if the BCS tries to pretend it has not.

      The only way I see ZaNew Labour being "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" is by taking so much of my money that I cannot afford to buy anything worth stealing. I cannot walk down the street without seeing literally dozens of CCTV cameras, but somehow crimes still take place. Crimes with real victims, like assaults and robbery, not such threats to public safety as someone overstaying their parking ticket by three minutes, or Granny Smith refusing to pay the increase in council tax this year since her pension has gone up by far les than the cost of living while her local council has had its money from Central Government (ie the theiving bunch in power) cut again...

      I suspect that ZaNew Labour would just love to have us all conveniently forget anything they don't like, but some of us remember that Murder is a crime - even if they try to hide it by getting the media to refer to it as 'homicide' now.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What about the "medya"?

    I don't suppose they are likely to bite the 4th estate, at all, on their dubious use of stats? Apart from the usual meaningless comparisons of apples, swimming pools with uranium production figures, there is the particular annoyance of "if you do x, you increase your likelihood of [dying, hair falling out, stubbing a toe] by n 100%" without stating any base. A base, in these circumstances, which is invariably an absolute minimum of 1 in 10,000 - so a 100% increase means 2 in 10,000.

    I know, I know - it's a slow news week and the editrix is breathing down your neck with a big stick; you also know that the "great" British public is essentially innumerate, most politicians are worse than that. But that really is no excuse for crap statistics, especially ones that you use to bounce the politicians into rushing some other new "law".

    Just look at the plant food ban as a case in point. Nobody knows what the base is, but it has to be in the several 100,000. The four people, that they has found so far, that have died with some of this in their blood stream, seem to have died of something else - so we are banning this because the usual 4th estate suspects say we should. What the f**k do they know about it? Oh, I know: something must be done to provide headlines for our newspapers!

    1. Gordon is not a Moron

      The plant food story is better than that..

      the initial t.v reports on the BBC about death of the two lads had them drinking (alot) and taking mephedrone & methadone. Strangely by next day all mention of the two drugs not causing a moral panic had disappeared from the story.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: The plant food story is better than that..

        The mention of methadone has come back into the stories now, but it seems to be treated as an irrelevance.

        None of the stories about mephedrone make any mention of quantity. You can easily kill yourself with too much of a lot of things that are benign enough in moderation.

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: The plant food story is better than that..

          (The quantity taken by the people who died, I mean. It could have been a line or a gram or ten grams.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Methadone is the official and legal drug pressribed by doctors to heroin addicts.

        Methadrone is not offically a drug in the medical sense. It's a fertiilizer.

        You can overdose on almost anything. Back in the 80's, people were sniffing glue, a few people passed out and died. As a consequence the government ensured that glues couldn't be sold to people under a certain age. But, they didn't declare glues illegal! Might be a tad inconvenient that.

        It's absolutely crazy to suggest that we ban substances because people deliberately use them in a way they were never intended to be used. Personally, I feel it's a part of population control. So a few mindless morons get killed, it's proof of Dawin's theory of evolution and helps better removes the wasters, the useless people from society.

        If you want to sniff fertilizer then, that's your problem mate.

        You can't legislate for every substance/chemical which is used in away which isn't intended to be used which can lead to death.

        But I am in favour of an education programme by the government, which has yet to materialize. They seem more interested in giving teenagers a criminal record after the event, rather than trying to prevent them from taking the stuff in the first place by a process of education.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    A politician lied? Never!!

    A Downing Street spokesman said: "We accept that some of the statistics used in the Prime Minister's podcast were not strictly comparable and as a result were unclear."

    But will they go public and retract their previous statement? Yeah, right...

    1. Adam Williamson 1

      Well, in fact..., actually, Gordo did correct himself in a speech the next day. Clearly, this is too tricky for El Reg to report (they appear to be a day behind the entire rest of the media on this one). It's even the next line in the statement El Reg quoted a part of:

      "We accept that some of the statistics used in the prime minister's podcast were not strictly comparable and as a result were unclear. As the chair of the Statistics Authority points out in his letter, the prime minister clarified the position in his speech today [Wednesday]. The figures he used in his speech are consistent with the analysis set out in the accompanying note from Sir Michael Scholar."

      So, yes, he _did_ correct himself. Yesterday. That's not exciting enough to report, though, of course.

      ('Savages' seems a remarkably strong word for the fairly diplomatically-worded letter from the Statistics Authority, too...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        So... When is the next cheque arriving from Millbank?? Will that be money from Unite or some nefarious government "advertising" fund?

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    Drugs are *always* good for a media/moral panic.

    *Any* meja report of a drug death should be read as "xxx died after tacking the drug yyy, and *whatever* C&*p it was cut with by their supplier at the time" I think Leah Betts was nice example. 1 first time user dies. Estimate Ecstasy consumption at the time, 1-2 million UK users *every* week.

    Not that 99% of the autopsies done will try and find out what yyy *is*. That might imply it was what the supplier cut it with that was a problem and (dare I suggest it) people could take drug xxx without harm *if* it was of known purity.

    In an ideal world such suppliers *should* be arrested. By Trading Standards for supplying products unfit for human consumption, like *every* other supplier of sub-standard merchandise.

  7. Gordon is not a Moron

    Rap on the knuckles & a pat on the head

    there was another part to the note from UKSA, that gave El Gordo a little pat on the head for using the correct stats in the speech he gave yesterday on immigration.

    So what are the odds that El Reg will get a vist from the UKSA Head Master about selective use of available data?

  8. Chris Miller

    Sir Michael Scholar

    But is he also a Gentleman and an Acrobat?

    Mine's the pink one, with the tail - ta.

    1. DavCrav


      He's the president of St John's College, Oxford, actually.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    This must be an April fools joke.

    How are politicians expected to do their jobs if they have to stick to the facts?

    This is not how election campaigns are run.

    This will never work.

    What the hell are they supposed to do now?

  10. RW
    Thumb Up

    Democratic government

    A commentator once said that one hallmark of a truly democratic government is the presence of multiple independent centers of power within government.

    It is good to see that in Britain, the bolshevist principles of Labour have not yet extinguished such independence, and that at least the head of the stats department is able to give the lying pols a public tongue lashing for their misuse of statistics.

    Too bad the advisory council on drugs isn't the body tasked with setting drug classification and policy.

  11. Tequila Joe

    Gordawful Brown, his lies and his sums

    Based on the figures in the pdf letter, second page, detailing migration figures and net-migration figures:

    1 - the number of immigrants coming in has barely decreased, being still over half-a-million per year;

    2 - the number of people leaving the UK is increasing, (I had no idea it was so many).

    So from 1 above, Brown's immigration controls based on 'skills' have no effect.

    And from 2 above, we can say that is why 'net migration' is decreasing - that the peope who have some choice in the matter by having some combination of money, skills talent, etc are fleeing the country in droves.

    As Brown is pretty sure the immigrants will vote ZaNuLiebore, and that those people with aspirations who are fleeing the country wouldn't, he is smugly happy with this outcome.

    And that is why the spin is about 'net migration' figures, to make it look as if ZaNuLiebore are addressing the immigration problems that they have deliberately created.

    Incidentally, I use the term ZaNuLiebore deliberately, to irritate the apparently increasing number of 'Browns-bloggers', or should that be 'Browns-boogers'?

  12. Adam Williamson 1


    Never mind 'not yet extinguished', the Statistics Authority was set up by the current administration, specifically to provide some independent oversight on the use of official statistics.

  13. Paul Stockwell
    Big Brother

    What about EU Member States

    There is another bit of Obfuscation happening here.

    This time it is probably within the rules and a matter of omission rather than lies.

    Most of the measures to control immigration concern non-EU immigrants but even the briefest survey of the public will reveal that the nationalities they are most concerned with are eastern Europeans from new EU states and therefore entitled to come here and work. The Polish are the stereotypical scapegoats for this.

    Thus when the Government (or any politician) presents their latest fabulous plan for immigration control they can mumble something about ‘non-EU’ as a disclaimer and get away with presenting this as a solution for a problem that is not really addressed.

    The press need to get on top of this and stop letting them get away with it – or press them on what they are doing about EU workers – most likely nothing as they are limited by treaty.

    Mind you we could go to Poland and work with equal ease.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Points system - no real difference

    Last time we renewed our UK visas it was on the points system. From what I can recall there were something like three criteria worth 10, 20, and 70 points. 100 points needed to get the visa.

    So no difference in function from a simple list of three boxes each of which must be ticked.

    However the introduction of the points system allows "them" to claim that things have changed and the rules are suddenly more strict.

    But over the past 5-6 years the rules haven't really changed - there is now more energy being spent on enforcing the rules but that sometimes seems arbitrary - especially with foreign wives of Britishers, even when they've been married a long time.

    As ever with authority, "they" are clamping down on those who try to follow the rules, and not doing much to eliminate immigration outside the rules.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    How big is the asylum seeker back log now?

    John Reid was told it was something like 20k files on the system, but *80k* files "pending."

    Hence his comment about the Home Office not being "fit for purpose" and the split into the HO and MoJ.

    Thumbs up to the stats agency. Hope it continues.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gordon is not a moron

    Why make such a big deal over the UKSA giving Gordon a pat on the back for correcting the inaccurate stats the next day?

    The point is he mis-used the stats and was dragged over the hot coals for it, such a public rebuke is therefore correct and proper.

    Do people deserve a pat on the back for giving the correct stats? No, of course not. The reason they don't deserve a pat on the back is because everyone is expected to use the correct stats.

    It's the norm. Or it should be.

    So, in my view, for news organisations not to report the pat on the back with such prominance as the failure to use the correct stats, or use the stats correct, is appropriate.

    Next, you'll be wanting a pat for managing to do up your shoes in the morning.

    I'll also add, that Gordon only corrected the stats the following day because he'd been caught out over them! In the run up to the election, having been caught-out for manipulating figures for his own ends, for him not to correct them would have lead to a lot of negative publicity for an extended duration, which would have done him and his election campaign a lot more harm.

    He had to correct them, but only did so because he'd been found out.

    So the real question is, would he have corrected them of his own volition had he not been found out?

    This makes the UKSA commendation that he corrected them the next day of even less value!!

    1. Gordon is not a Moron

      It's called balanced reporting

      the Channel 4 news piece on this was pretty much spot on, giving both labour and conservatives a bit of kicking over use of dodgy statistics with the correct stats in the speech getting maybe two whole sentences right at the end of a 3 or minute piece.

      But you can't write an article about selective use of information and then yourself be selective about the information you report. Well you can, but it's bad journalism at best and at worst outright hypocrisy.

      In a democratic system the press is there to the politicians honest, but it's the unwashed masses who have to keep the press honest.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @Gordon is not a Moron

    "But you can't write an article about selective use of information and then yourself be selective about the information you report. Well you can, but it's bad journalism at best and at worst outright hypocrisy."

    In the UK the requirement for balanced reporting comes under the "Representation of the Peoples Act."

    It does *not* apply to newspapers. Something Rupert Murdoch rather likes about the UK.

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