Lies, damn lies and so on
But what really gets to me is the casual abuse of statistics. The first one that's been in the news recently is the 'fight against child poverty.' Labour have missed a target to reduce this by the proverbial country mile. That looks awful - a million children raised in poverty - until you look at what it means - an income of less than 60% of the average. By any historical measurement there is no poverty in Britain. The benefit system alone has raised income levels to a point unrecognisable a hundred, or even fifty years ago. Looking at poverty as a proportion of average income just guarantees its continued survival. This is, of course, the entire point. What is the Labour Party for if not to fight the iniquities of poverty? If you get rid of poverty what else is there to do? But the inherently ridiculous nature of the argument is obvious - if Bill Gates, the Aga Khan and Richard Branson live on an island together, is Branson really living in poverty because his wealth is proportionally less than the others?
The other one that has really irritated me - perhaps more so because it is still trotted out as clear proof of the iniquity of white Zimbabwean farmers - was that the whites owned 70% of the best farmland. The way this one was worked out was beautiful in its simplicity. How do you calculate the 'best' land? By looking at agricultural yields of course! Therefore, since white-owned commercial farms had higher yields, they must be on more fertile land. Obvious really. So when the farms were re-possessed what happened? Well, yields went down as investment decreased and the land gradually became less good. So, the removal of a farm from a white farmer actually increased the proportion of the best land in the hands of the remaining farmers. If I hear this argument once more, I really might blow a gasket.