31 October 2007

Government Statistics c. Time Immemorial - 2007

Government Statistics have perished with the news that the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, underestimated the number of migrants working in the UK by 700,000, and failed to factor in the 40 odd members of the infamous Windsor family who have been milking the benefits system for decades.

Since the dawn of time governments have struggled to issue a factual reckoning of everything from the annual figures for the wheat harvest, literacy rate or life expectancy while those governments' subjects have struggled to believe that the figures haven't been spun, seasonally adjusted, calculated in base 72 or just downright fiddled.

When the Trojans woke up one morning to find the Achaeans gone, they proudly announced to the surviving citizens that all that was left behind was one horse, before being forced to rapidly revise this figure by Odysseus and his 30 armed companions leaping from the belly of the horse to remonstrate with the official Trojan statistician. The Ancient Britons massively underestimated the number of migrating Romans arriving via the south coast to take up work in the indoor plumbing and underfloor heating sector that so many Ancient Britons considered beneath them. And, similarly when Harold got his court tellers to tot up the numbers of Normans popping over for a weekend break to buy up and restore disused farmhouses and cottages in England, their calculations were so far out of whack that Harold had no choice but to hand over the keys to William the Conqueror.

Throughout history a sceptical public became used to governments announcing a number they'd first thought of, and then adding ten million to that figure. So when Home Secretary Jacqui Smith first stated confidently that the number of migrant workers in the UK was definitely 800,000, it was no surprise that she was later forced to sheepishly admit that the batteries in her abacus weren't fully charged and the real figure was, actually, 1,100,000... before the Office of National Statistics reminded her that the figure was, in fact, 1,500,000. Having displayed all the statistical acumen of the Metropolitan Police counting the number of protestors at a student demo, Ms Smith's series of seven(1) gaffes exposed Government Statistics as a tissue of lies, damned lies and... er... Government Statistics. As a shocked nation - outraged to discover that it had been misled yet again - called for Ms Smith to be replaced as Home Secretary by a Lithuanian accountant, Government Statistics failed to add up for the final time and were no more.

Government Statistics will be buried at the Church of St Johnny of Ball, the service will be conducted by the Reverend Dave "Let's Just Call It A Hundred for Cash" Dodgy and the congregation will sing hymn 432... sorry, hymn 700,432.

Government Statistics are predeceased by the Tooth Fairy's calculations and survived by Let's Just Split The Bill Four Ways.

(1) sorry, nine, sorry, two, sorry ... 278 following seasonal adjustment.

1 Comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

How come if I overestimate my disposable cash the bank soon let me know it but the home secretary can miscalculate to this degree and get away with it?! Well done, Dodos!