Statistics and cynicism

30 Apr

It is amazing how statistics can be used for dubious purposes. I have just received an election leaflet for the European Elections from the deluded little Englander party (sorry, United Kingdom Independence Party / U.K.I.P.).

The headline figure is that 4,000 people a week are moving to the UK from other EU states. Wow, isn’t that terrible? Errr, no, well, hang on a mo, that doesn’t show people moving away from the UK, which is probably an equal number. Also, how many of those are from the older established EU states and how many of those are business people, medical staff and other desirable potential citizens, and how many are on short-term contracts etc. Bet the number 4,000 per week doesn’t seem quite so large now. A more meaningful statistic is that London is the 6th largest French speaking city in the world, because so many people from France have and are moving over here.

Then there is the population of the UK, which was estimated at 63,822,000, at the time of the last census. To equal that number, 4,000 people a week would have to come into the UK every week for the next 309 years. Or, put another way, for any one of the new arrivals there are 16,068 Britons. That is one sixteen thousandth of the population or 0.00016%. Really significant, eh?

Not that it really matters, because using statistics out of context as a way to reinforce prejudices is a political act of cynicism which all parties use. The difference with UKIP is that they are making the value judgement that all foreigners are wicked, after our jobs and our women etc. I used to think that UKIP were merely social conservatives. The UKIP pamphlet has changed my mind. The party is deeply racist and has been infiltrated by far right groups and complete nutters. The list of UKIP candidates who have been taken off the list because of their connections to the BNP (British fascist party) and by others making ridiculous statements about black citizens, gay people etc. lengthens by a couple every week.

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