How will this affect the election PR war?
What strikes me as the most significant story of the day in terms of the next general election is the letter by Sir Michael Scholar, to Jeremy Heywood, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on yesterday’s knife crime statistics.
For one of the dead easy ways that Brown Central can get onto the next bulletins is by announcing some statistics and its always possible to play about with them to show ministers in the best possible light.
But could that now be harder following the intervention of Sir Michael Scholar, retired top mandarin and president of St John’s College
This was from his letter to the top civil servant at Number 10:-
I am writing, as chair of the UK Statistics Authority, to express my concern about yesterday’s announcement of statistics related to knife crime.
It has been reported to me by the National Statistician’s Office that officials or advisers in No. 10 Downing Street caused the Home Office to issue a press release which prematurely published rovisional statistics for hospital admissions for knife or sharp instrument wounding.
This press release said that “the number of teenagers admitted to hospital for knife or sharp instrument wounding in nine…police force areas fell by 27% according to new figures published today”.
These statistics were not due for publication for some time, and had not therefore been through the regular process of checking and quality assurance. The statisticians who produced them, together with the National Statistician, tried unsuccessfully to prevent their premature, irregular and selective release.
I hope you will agree that the publication of prematurely released and unchecked statistics is corrosive of public trust in official statistics, and incompatible with the high standards which we are all seeking to establish……
If Scholar is going to interject whenever dodgy numbers are bandied about that’s going to make Labour’s re-election chances that little bit harder. It will also make life a bit tougher for David Cameron if ever he makes it to the top job.