Government use of data

I was asked about government data in the election, so I thought today I would share with you my reply:

I entirely agree that we need to improve the skills of our nation in handling and using data. The government is planning more emphasis on science, maths and data, which will be covered by new T levels as well.

I also agree that new policies should be underpinned by evidence. That is the approach I have always adopted as policy adviser and as someone involved in the national debate over major concerns.

There are issues both over the quality of data available to government and over the way some choose to interpret or use it. I myself use a lot of the economic data for the interventions I make in the national debate on public spending, economic growth and taxation. All too often the basis of a series is changed making comparison over time more difficult. There are regular changes to the back data, long after the intense political debate about the numbers has passed on. We often find the sharp political exchanges have attacked and defended wrong numbers.

The current changes being put through on inflation are an example of the complexity, with RPI giving way to CPI now giving way to a new index which includes a proxy for owner occupied housing costs which may not capture the reality. This is an example of an important index which has consequences for people’s lives, as benefits are uprated and index bondholders rewarded by reference to one or other of these indices.

In some of the important figures for debate the independent officials make forecasts which can have great political significance. For example, the OBR forecast poor revenues for the almost completed 2016-17 year in the November Autumn Statement, only to have to put back £8bn of revenue they left out from the November forecast in the March update. It is a good job the government did not respond to the November figures by cutting spending or increasing taxes to keep the deficit on target, as it turns out it was not off target as I argued at the time. There are always dangers in official figures that require judgements or rely on models which have not in the past accurately reflected what has happened.

The UK economic figures are subject to revision for many years after the date to which they apply. IT reminds us that decision takers often do have to make judgements without access to proper data. That is another area where a democratic system has its advantages. If the decision takers are in touch with those most affected, they will know qualitatively about the problem and the solutions which can help avoid a mistake based on partial, inaccurate or misunderstood data.

You can rest assured I will continue to highlight problems, working to our shared goal of more accurate numbers used intelligently and fairly to underpin policy.

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64 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Governments do not really want accurate figures. They want figures that can be used for political reasons. Crime figures, transport figures, people at university, people in poverty, the “living wage”, living standards, inflation, gdp, growth, levels of taxation, the temperature records, climate alarmism, computer modelling, environmental concerns ……. they are all politically manipulated. Many government funded bodies are all about using these distored figures mainly to demand ever more action from governments or from the EU or to try to garner votes. Governments always like to grow.

    I particulary remember the number people going to university figures was used. It showed a huge increase almost entirely due to the Polytechnics having changed their names (at vast expense) to Universities.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      Crime figure in particular are hugely manipulated. The police often seem desperate to refuse to register a crime report, if they can possibly think of an excuse not to do so or to link it as one crime rather than ten. NHS waiting time statistics are also hugely manipulated so as to deceive.

      I see that the NHS has a budget of £56 Billion for legal claims – is this really a sensible way to use tax payers money. Why not make patients take their own insurance if they wish to (and limit and compenation and cut the lawyers out)? Quite a lot considering government health expenditure in total is about £120 billion PA.
      We should look at ways of getting rid of unproductive jobs their are far too many and they are still growing. Lawyers, consultants, HR advisors, tax advisors, bureaucrats, politicians, pressure groups and the likes are everywhere, doing little of any use and much harm, while killing overall productivity.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    JR watching Mrs May being interviewed on TV yesterday she looked anything but “strong and stable”. If she gets as rattled as this over something like an election result, how would she perform under severe stress such as during a war? Its clear to see her USP does not exist. Incidentally the Webb household did not vote on Thursday, we cannot see why we should be forced in to buying a substandard product.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Given the complexity and questionable figures you suggest which occurs from time-time, would it not be more sensible for the government to plan ahead with their comprehensive tax and spend decisions, based on last years factual information and receipts, rather than adding further to the chaos and uncertainty by guessing what growth may be for a couple of years ahead and then having to adjust accordingly when those guesses are proven to be incorrect.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I keep hearing people say how moral and straight Corbyn is. What on earth is moral and straight about promising other people’s money to everyone to buy their votes? This while knowing he would never be able to deliver (or even have to) anyway?

    Vote for me, I will steal off the rich to buy your votes using dud cheques. This while destroying jobs & the economy in the process.

    Thanks to the dire, hugely misguided, Tory campaign he actually got away with it. Here students have £27,000 and cheaper rents and vote for me!

  5. eeyore
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Mrs May ignored all the important aspects of her defeat (I use the word deliberately) when she addressed the nation from Downing Street yesterday. JR gallantly stands side by side with her in this piece today.

    We who have a humble stake in this country, possibly having worked for it for a lifetime, who are happy to share but dread having the lot stolen and wasted by rapacious government, are now staring down the barrel of a bandit’s AK45. We look for protection to the Conservatives. Through truly appalling generalship they have left us exposed and horrified.

    The election debate cared nothing for statistics. Labour’s new supporters responded to hopes, dreams, fantasies, delusions and limitless irresponsibility. A human appeal was made to human nature, and it worked. The rest of us, who will pay the price, need not lectures but leadership.

  6. rick hamilton
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    It is striking that (unlike some more numerate countries) charts or figures are rarely shown by political parties in our TV debates or question times. It may be difficult for candidates to remember the numbers without some reference but with today’s ability to handle graphics it should be easy for studios to set up clear displays.

    Most of the political arguments seem to come down to rhetoric designed to get a round of applause. Let’s have more rigorous analysis of parties’ manifesto promises and past performance.

  7. Tabulazero
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Data protection… of all the topics you could have chosen on a day like this.

    For example, do you think that Theresa May is fit to be the current conservative Prime Minister ?

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    It’s just a pity your data didn’t flag up the dire consequences of having a manifesto designed to mug the English.
    One Nation I think not.
    English hating yes. Only English kids getting 40 grand in debt.
    Only English having their savings and property stolen for care.
    Preaching austerity whilst spraying money on aid, HS2 Hinckley Point and a wasted years tribute to Brussels.
    Thursdays poll was the result of a remain PM showing disdain for what should be core supporters.

  9. MikeP
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I read this with a mixture of disbelief, anger and expectation that it will be used one day for a episode of Yes Minister. It reads more like political chicanery for ONS or other sources to be asked to change the basis of important economic figures; add a new series with a new basis yes fine, but you should preserve the original until a new series is established. Would a large business have such poor information, I doubt it, those I worked in didn’t.

  10. Richard1
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Conservative MPs need to recognise that a civil war will lead to a Corbyn government in short order – a catastrophe for the Country. Sure Mrs May needs to be replaced, but not now. The story about these 2 dreadful advisers at No 10 needs to be shut down today, with their immediate removal. It is clear Mrs May’s own political instincts are statist and uninspired. So if we end up with her now having to run proper cabinet government that will be a positive.

  11. margaret
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Good, it is difficult to use anecdotal evidence on a big scale for the obvious reasons .One persons experience may be entirely different from another, yet to get it right I believe that no one should fall between the categories and lose out.
    The election was badly timed and local events naturally heightened emotions of togetherness for floaters , but the work has to go on. It should be more difficult to run away with policies in the house without a significant majority and perhaps that is a good thing. Evidence underpins any new ventures particularly in law , but now and again something new and fresh without much evidence is worth taking a risk for. A reshuffle should take place and there are a couple of people who would make a difference in the cabinet.

  12. NA
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Its good for traders in the Forex market as it creates short term volatility we can make money from. Especially when economic forecasts are wrong. Your can use software that catches spikes using a trailing stop. This only works if liquidity in the market.

    In short, we have a entire industry that can only make money when politicians get it wrong. So keep up the good work.

  13. AtlanticSpan
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I think had the Tory’s won,you wouldn’t be talking about such an ‘off the radar’ subject as data the day after an election. I wonder why you have chosen to do so today.

  14. NA
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    You would have made a good computer programmer JR.

  15. Oliver
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Stop talking about £Billions. Put everything in £’s per head (tax payers, households, citizens).

    Importantly, make it clear how much the top decile/quintile are paying of total taxes. And that the bottom half pay nothing on a net basis. Do this everytime a new expenditure is proposed. An average Corbyn sentence would cost a top ten % household £5,000 or so, an eventually even his compassionate supporters would get the hint that it isn’t “fair” as they endelessly bleat.

    Significant tax payers should be regarded with gratitude. Instead we are branded as greedy selfish B******s.

    Lastly, point out that both the debt and deficit are the price of politician’s lies – what they claim they can give us, but can’t fund through taxation.

    We must stamp on the misguided belief that people are in some way “entitled” to the multiple benefits of the marvellous society we have built over multiple generations.

    • Oliver
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      And a question – where are we on Boundary Reform?

      Surprised I hav’n’t heard it mentioned, would seem a bit of a priority?

  16. Andy Marlot
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    It scarcely matters what changes are made to the inflation calculation. For very many years it has had little or no relation to reality. Constant changes mean it cannot be used as a comparison against previous years which is surely the point of them if they were real. The unemployment and GDP figures are either grossly manipulated or meaningless as well. All are used to prove anything the government of the moment wants them to prove. Lies, damn lies and government statistics.

  17. agricola
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Lies, damned lies and statistics (Data). Data on the economy is never going to be really accurate until well after the event, just because it takes time to get all the inputs.

    I am curious as to who produced the inputs to the Conservative party manifesto. Was it two or three advisors to the PM. Did the cabinet have an overview and editorial power. Was it ever put before the candidates who had to stand up and answer for it. As it proved an Achilles heel during the election, it would appear that not enough people with common sense had much to do with it. I thought it particularly stupid to drag the winter fuel allowance into the manifesto because I believe as a universal benefit most would be returning almost half of it in tax anyway. What sort of bright intellect decided that peoples inheritance tax contribution would be controlled by the type of end of life illness they contracted. Get run over by a bus, no problem. Get alzheimer’s and your carefully nurtured nest egg will be pillaged. Why feel compelled to mention any of it.

    If the PM or cabinet need advisors they have three hundred odd MPs to choose from, or are they all assumed to be idiots. If the PM is prepared to learn from this she could survive. My advice would be to concentrate on little but Brexit. It was what the election was supposed to be about. By now it should all be worked out, so go for it. If the EU thinks otherwise they lose. To me the difference between a hard Brexit and a soft one is that in the latter case we have free trade, but in the former trade to WTO rules. For Northern Ireland I would leave their border with Eire as it is and bring the hard border back to mainland ports and airports.

    Unrelated, I am not surprised that one of the three terrorists could travel unchecked between the UK and Eire. Eighteen months ago I flew from Dublin to Birmingham where there were no checks or border force on duty in Birmingham. If I fly from Alicante to Birmingham one suffers delays while they check returning holidaymakers. If you are going to have a border make it uniform and real.

  18. APL
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    JR: “I was asked about government data in the election ”

    You could of course, embrace John James Cowperthwaite’s approach and refuse to collect economic data on the grounds that it encouraged government to meddle in the economy.

    After all there is a whole government funded industry dedicated to reporting that one glass of wine will kill you, or one must eat a banana everyday, or some other such dribble.

    It looks like Cowperthwaite was correct.

  19. hefner
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    JR’s choice of topics during the coming weeks will be very interesting to follow. Very often, this blog has been such an exercise in dispersing its readers’ attention.
    There might be a study to be conducted here. Any political student interested?

  20. Richard1
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The narrow escape we have had from Corbyn’s socialist plans for punitative taxation, runaway borrowing, nationalisation etc reminds us why many of us on the right strongly supported EEC membership for many years (as Margaret Thatcher did) – it simply prevented such policies. Mrs May could have changed sentiment in Remain voting areas with simple gestures such as guaranteeing EU citizens their current rights, as will almost certainly be done anyway, and taking students out of the immigration figures. But no, she insisted on an obstinate uninspired lawyerly approach and here we are. Kensington has gone Labour! Surely 20+ seats would have changed if we hadn’t had such uninspired folly from Mrs May.

  21. NA
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    We dont need armies anymore. They brutalize the young, inflate the ego off the old, subvert the media and cost a fortune.
    This is not some teenage utopian nonsense, the older I get the more convinced I am we could all agree to scale down militaey spending on a global level, anyone who refuses to comply gets cold shouldered and we dont trade with them.

  22. Nig l
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Our Fintech industry based around Shoreditch is leading the world in developing programmes using customer information to give the Banks behavioural information down to an individual level enabling them to deliver everything from personalised programmes to sophisticated money laundering and fraud protection systems. I find it beyond comprehension that HMG is not using these ‘rocket scientists’ to sort out the problems you describe with its MI.

    • hefner
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry: GCHQ, Cambridge Analytica and others already are on it.

    • hefner
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      You don’t even need be a rocket scientist to do such things: any person literate enough to use the R programming language can work with data easily extracted from Google’s, Yahoo’s and Twitter’s user statistics. So I would guess HMG can do that too.

  23. Lost in Space
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Mr Corbyn was asked in the campaign. How much is the debt? He did not know. A top Tory was asked the same. He knew the Deficit but did not know the amount of the Debt.Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and others often spoke in Parliament unknowingly using figures relating to debt and deficit without realising one was different from the other. Their use of the terms interchageably proved they were speaking parrot-fashion about economics without understanding. Similarly an ex-government advisor appeared on TV and actually gave an incorrect definition. Eventually Andrew Neil defined and explained the terms to a group of senior politicians before he even started questioning them. How embarrassing.

    JR, I am certain you know what you are talking about. Of course it is not a matter of remembering figures like a parrot. But data or figures are used, as you know, without a care of analysis but simply to “prove” a political point. “The OBR says… ” “The Treasury itself says…” “The IFC says…” “The IMF says…”
    The number of times such data is found wanting (!) and what Mr Carney calls “soft data”…well, that tells its own story. He openly and publicly based one of his pre-23rd June 2016 major behaviours solely on soft data . Turns out it was wrong and he was good enough to later say so.
    In our minds, we have made “Data” into much more than the word. The origin, I believe, of the word is Latin and is quite a petty little word-meaning. Data= ( thing ) given.
    We should not bow down or kneel and pray to Data, or daub it in gold paint. But we humans do this with everything don’t we. “Community” as a word is now too big for its boots.

  24. David Ashton
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but I have just seen a list of runners and riders for the challenge to Theresa. Please, please, please do everything in your power to keep Amber Rudd out of No.10. She is the epitome of everything that has gone wrong with Conservative party since Thatcher. Most of my friends are traditional Conservative party supporters, none of us would support or trust that green europhiliac.

  25. eeyore
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking at the figures behind Labour’s proposed Land Value Tax (“Garden Tax”). At a 3% levy on a notional 55% land value, the average house worth £250,000 would pay an extra £2500 a year on top of council tax of £1600.

    A £1m house, not far above the ordinary London three-bed semi these days, would be hit for £15,000 LVT. And so on up the scale. Presumably there would be rent controls preventing landlords from passing it on to tenants, while owner-occupiers who could not pay would face jail and expropriation by the courts.

    This forced conversion of accumulated capital into income would destroy the nation’s stock of the former within a very few decades. Those who think it good sense for a hungry man to eat his own legs will also think LVT an excellent idea.

  26. Mark B
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    One can only predicted likely trends and not actual outcomes, even with the best data. But controlling likely events and managing what you can helps reduce the risk of uncertainty and embarrassment later on.

    It is never wise to be too clever.

    Off topic.

    After reading yesterdays comments I must be the only person pleased with the result. I have long argued that our form of democracy is in adequate and needs replacing. How is it that the Executive can in effect have 100 MP’s in its pocket via the issuing of jobs. It is the job of the Legislative to hold the government to account and, to help in that process we need a strong and effective Opposition. This we now have.

    The government will not get an easy ride. Article 50 has been given and we are less than two years from leaving the EU. A second referendum is pointless as we will not be given a better arrangement.

    As for the future of the PM, I will leave that to the Conservative Party to decide.

    As for Jeremy Corbin, I think he can now safely stare down the Blairites in his party. Even though he is not in Number 10 he is nit out if the game.

  27. JJE
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    If anyone tries to persuade you that what the country just voted for is Boris Johnson as PM, I trust you will ask them to provide the appropriate data?

  28. Jack snell
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Well i suppose given thd awful predicament we find ourzelves in we might just as well discuss figures data graphs or anything else that comes to mind..but it will still not address the underlying seriousness of our situation

  29. Chris
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    In view of the serious situation in which we find ourselves with regard to government policy and how our government has functioned on a large range of issues, and particularly in the run up to the election, the article in The Spectator and The Times about the role of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, May’s two closest advisers apparently, exposes a situation which is not at all healthy and constructive for good governance.
    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/theresa-mays-former-spin-chief-calls-destructive-fiona-hill-nick-timothy/

  30. Peter D Gardner
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the policymakers in government are trying to do too much. Surely the economy cannot require tweaking of the government’s available tools every quarter, unless there is a very obvious need to respond to events outside the UK’s economy? Conservative governments are as prone to intervention as Labour in this regard. We should aim to cut the government’s share of GDP to about 35%.

  31. Jerry
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Off topic, back to the far more important issue of who is going to govern the country.

    What is going to happen, if the 7 SF MPs were to resign, thus force by-elections, stand down their candidates and then tell their supporters to vote for the SDLP.?

    The NI Stormont government is moribund and likely to remain so if the DUP is propping up the UK Westminster government that needs to act as go-between and mediator. Other than some minor benefits from having MP status SF has little to in giving up their MPs if by doing so it allows the Stormont government to resume, even more so if it stops direct-rule being implemented.

    Sorry Mrs May but you are barking up not only the wrong tree but a tree that is in danger of collapse at the earliest opportunity. So much for “Strong and Stable”, so much for a Strong Brexit negotiating position. In the words of Loe Amery during the Norway debate…..

    • APL
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Jerry: “What is going to happen, if the 7 SF MPs were to resign, thus force by-elections, ”

      Well, nothing. The fools don’t take their seats in Westminster.

      They could of course affect the balance on Power if they had sat in Westminster. Potentially, there are seven seats on Corbyn’s side. He has supported the IRA and thus Sinn Fein are his natural allies.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        @APL; Try reading the rest of the paragraph you have extracted that quote from, better my whole comment, then reply again!

        If SF force by-elections and then advise, tell, their supporters to vote SDLP that changes the entire arithmetic, even with the DUP Mrs May doesn’t even have a majority of one…

        • APL
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “If SF force by-elections and then advise, tell, their supporters to vote SDLP ..”

          How can Sinn Fein resign? they haven’t taken their seats.

          No seats, no resignation, no by-election.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 12, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            @APL; Wrong. They are still MPs, regardless of taking their seats, and thus can still resign.

  32. Bert Young
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I wish John’s use and facility with numbers were used in the role of Chancellor ; I have little faith – or trust , in Hammond . The new Cabinet ought to reflect not only the deal with the DUP but a correction in Tory policy . Theresa made severe errors of judgement prior to and during the campaign ; if she is now not willing to show that she has accepted these errors and is back on course , then she must go .

    Leadership at this stage is most important . The Brexit negotiations lead the way followed by the re-building of the Conservative Party . If there is not cohesion in the ranks any diversion will disrupt and prevent the implementation of any policy . As an onlooker I feel powerless and sceptical . The reassurance I need and the public want has to be another priority .

  33. Ken Moore
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    May having called an election to create a mandate to ‘deliver Brexit’ and her own desperately needed ‘strong and stable leadership’ ..she has now trashed the one she already had as well as her own majority. Then she has the bare faced cheek, after having wasted 8 weeks to tell us ‘lets get back to work’. Someone just please tell her to go.

    As I said before, Mrs May isn’t a ‘bloody difficult woman’ she is a bloody stupid woman. She isn’t fit to lead and will only cause the party more and more pain totally out of touch.

  34. hans chr iversen
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    John

    It sounds great that you will work diligently with the , facts, figures and data and interpret them to the best of your ability to the benefit of the electorate.

    Please, make sure you also interpret the data objectively and not just subjectively which you seem to be doing a lot when you are comparing UK figures and performance with teh rest of in particular the EU.

    If, that changes we might begin to take your arguments seriously again.

    Hans Christian Iversen

  35. SecretPeople
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    A belated congratulations on your personal election result, John. I’m sorry this is ‘off-topic’, but overnight I’ve realised I’ve been had. No sooner were the election results out than ‘soft Brexit’ (= remaining in the single market and freedom of movement) are apparently back on the table. These were clearly not mentioned in the manifesto and as a first time Conservative voter I was responding to TM’s request to strengthen her hand in securing a true Brexit, not Brexit in name only while everything stays the same.

    You can see what Ruth Davison is up to in the Telegraph. The DUP’s needs for extra workers can be met from within the points system or whatever system is developed to keep control of the quality and quantity of immigration. We have plenty of unskilled workers in Great Britain (well, England) they can avail themselves of if they need them. And failing that, there could be an arrangement for EU citizens (if that’s what they’re getting at) to work in N. Ireland but not Great Britain.

    People are crying out for relief from the pressures of too many people – it’s a strain on people’s lives and something NI, Scotland and Wales have little first hand experience of. In The Times yesterday there was a piece about overpopulation in Dublin! They should try living in one of our inner cities.

  36. Norman
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    “Ruth Davidson has been told by the prime minister that any Conservative deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not affect LGBTI rights.”
    “Daily Mirror: May ‘clings on’ with ‘coalition of crackpots – Unionists oppose same sex marriage and abortion”. (That makes me a ‘crackpot’, then.)
    Has Britain been reduced to this??
    Sadly, John, this is the data we need to hear re our beloved country, if it is not even now too late: “The writing is truly on the wall” (See Daniel 5:25-28 – the parallel are devastating .)

  37. NickC
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    There is considerable disquiet in academic circles that significant percentages of the results of research are not reproducible. It is up to 50% in some disciplines. This may not quite be what you meant by “data”, but there is no doubt it has an important effect on government policy.

    For example the scientific “consensus” on “climate change” (in reality, the belief in catastrophic global warming driven by man-made CO2), relying on climate computer models, is not reproducible in the real world. Put simply the models run too hot. Moreover, the true believers, to bolster their position, falsely claim there is a consensus when there is not.

    Consequently we are wasting £billions, and have killed basic industries in the UK, for no good reason. President Trump recognises this, has said enough is enough, and has pulled the USA out of the costly tokenism of the Paris Accord. We should follow suit. And remove green subsidies as well.

  38. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, from the letters pages of the Maidenhead Advertiser, August 4th 2016:

    http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/news/letters-to-the-editor/102586/no-need-for-a-snap-general-election.html

    “No need for a snap general election”

    What a pity that Theresa May ignored my friendly advice and later allowed herself to be manoeuvred into holding a general election which was always unnecessary and unwise and has now turned into a complete disaster.

    Some sensible person pointed out this morning that if the Tories ditch Theresa May:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2017/06/our-snap-survey-two-in-three-conservative-party-members-say-that-may-should-announce-her-resignation.html

    they will just be installing another unelected Prime Minister like her and the same pressure will build up for that person to hold another general election …

  39. ian
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see zac back in the house of commons.

  40. data exhaustion
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Conservatively, an average of four hours of my working day over a one six month period was wasted. A very simple matter of data tranferral to me by my then company. There were a number of colleagues similarly affected.If I stated the company, you would not believe it. 99% of its many employees at all levels are educated to at least degree level. Much of the complete batches of data was irrelevant to my job nor to literally anyone else.
    Data collecting by many organisations can be equated with a whale travelling with its mouth open gulping down plankton and, millions of other tiny items nothing to do with its survival. God was a computer nerd. He was also my boss, I think.

  41. Jason wells
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It was figures and the compilation of figures, data and statistics that got us into this terrible mess. Mrs may calculated on improving her mandate but failed miserably because she did not feed in the correct figures, for instance she omitted figures about the young – she also greatly under estimated on the reaction of the older vote by her announcement of the dementia tax and triple lock change.. and in the IT world we would say ‘garbage in and garbage out’.. it would have been much better for her had she listened more to her party colleagues instead of those closeted advisors.. but it’s all too late now..

  42. Miss Waters
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Are we to assume from recent resignations that two people out of 66 million UK citizens were uniquely responsible for a bad manifesto and-or the timing of the Election itself?
    A PM should be without need of formal advice except in technical matters such as nuclear power stations, DNA implications and progressions, water retention, flooding, and supply in regard to changing demographics, should be the kind of things necessary. Obviously Mrs May has not availed herself of the work of these kinds of advisors or such advisors are politically bent as to be unproductive.

  43. NHSGP
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Data is one reason why you screwed up the last election.

    You know full well that you promised in 2010 to release the debts of the socialist welfare state.

    Then when in power you reneged on that election promise.

    The reason was the state owed 5.01 trillion in 2010. Labour legacy. By refusing to make that number widely know we know have the situation where a large percentage of the population think that there is a magic money tree.

    IF you had published it, and gone further like send every tax payer a personal statement annually of their share, socialism would have rightly been ended in the UK. They would be on the back foot trying to explain why they had pissed all the wealth up the wall.

    But you didn’t. You get it secret, and now we have an even bigger mess.

    So are you going to fulfill your electoral promise or are you going to hide it for longer?

  44. James neill
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Now that the young people have woken up to the consequences of voting and not voting..it might be a good thing to run a second referendum on this brexit thing..i have an idea that if given a vote again the brexit decision would be reversed and heavlily defeated..probably 60/40..it would save us all a lot of trouble

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Dear James–Let me guess, are you a Remainer by any chance?–How about a second referendum on the original decision to join in the first place–Makes as much sense to me–or if you are right, how about a Third in a couple of years? Depressing listening to this stuff.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Hate to disappoint, but Corbyn is more anti-EU than May by a country mile. If your wishful hypothesis was correct the LibDems would have been the second party.

  45. Advisor to the Gods.
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Saw written statements by two former advisors to Mrs May. Oh dear! I should advise her!

    Terrorist and other physical attacks on a “community” compel them to hide and cling on to known objects, ideas, etc including political allegiances. The tribe tightens. Individuality lessons. New thinking counter-intuitively, lessens.
    “Strong and Stable” is the best catchword if it is pronounced by the perceived tribal leader. Mrs May is not. Gandalf is, he is old, with a beard, and speaks of Valhalla in Asgard, the place of peace and security. The stuff of young dreams and the delusions of the old.
    She should defeat terrorism.

  46. Ken Moore
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Is this site on lockdown – surely everyone wants to discuss the election result ?

  47. alan jutson
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I see it is reported that Mrs May’s two personal gatekeepers and advisors have now resigned after the damage has been done.

    Interesting that Nick Timothy says Whitehall had been working on the disastrous Social care plan for months, and it was not simply his pet project.

    If the statement is true, I wonder how many Cabinet Ministers were aware.

    Difficult decisions ahead for the Conservative Party.

  48. Woz you!
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    So in the very highest British Business traditions, Mrs May has taken action.It woz the offices juniors wot did it and the accursed semi-retired tea lady, I should say woman ahh who clumsily, would you believe it, spilt a whole teapot full of really awful tea anyway onto important documents. Of course I told her time and time again, be careful not to empty a whole teapot full of your awfully stewed tea on to important documents. I even pointed them out to her!

  49. ian
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I think parliament should stay open this summer, so MPs can get some work done for the people instead of laying around dreaming.

  50. Go Mrs May!
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday. Ruth Davidson answering a journalist “I am a Member of the Scottish Parliament and if I wanted to be a UK MP I would have …etc ”
    Today ” There is no vacancy fo Mrs May’s job”

    The Tory Party should ensure there is a vacancy for Mrs May’s job and Ruth Davidson somehow is placed there, now.

    The thought of Mr Glum Chancellor and Mrs Glum PM sat side by side at PMs Questions with the Labour Party doing cartwheels, wheezing with laughter,and blowing up baloons and letting them shribble crazily through the air this way and that will finish the Glum family off.

  51. hefner
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    On a somewhat related subject: how comes that nobody seems to question the pollsters, their methodology having been shown for the second time in a year to be at best deficient. But then, parties and various other groups must have spent a non-negligible amount of money to get very poor final products. Why has this not become a hot topic?

    Are those so much different from the poor economic projections so many people are so quick to criticise?

  52. Ken Moore
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Interesting timing.
    With inflation on the march the government decides to change how it is measured making historical comparisons meaningless.

    Dr Redwood – is there a reason for this change other than the government trying to cover up the degree to which our currency has been debauched. ?

    • hefner
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Good question: the coalition government moved from RPI to CPI arguing it was to facilitate international comparisons (true) but the quick disappearance of figures for the RPI (except in some economic press) allowed the political “magicians” to sedate the public as RPI was usually 1% higher than CPI. People in a given country would certainly prefer indices remaining the same for meaningful comparisons to be drawn over long time periods (30-40 years).
      Now the CPIH, CPI including owner housing cost and not an international comparison figure, allows more or less the same trick to be played.
      See http://www.ons.gov.uk Look for UK consumer price inflation
      For example the latest (April 2017) CPIH is at 2.3%, CPI at 2.4% not much difference but likely to be systematic.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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