Perhaps readers of Vox Political can help me with this:
According to an article in the Mirror on July 31, the number of Covid-19 deaths in hospitals rose by 13, bringing the total to 33,945.
This is just deaths in hospital, I’m assuming, as the most recent figures I had seen were nearly double as many. Right?
But the article does not provide any UK-wide figure at all. Why not?
I turned to the National Audit Office for help. Its most recent figures ran only as far as July 17 – and included only deaths registered in England and Wales: 51,264.
But that’s already a big, big difference.
Almost in despair, I turned to the Twitter feed of Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times. I found this:
When looking at occurances of deaths, it is likely the number will be higher, as @statsjamie has pointed out due to delays in registrations, but this will not be known for some time. His estimate is roughly
I trust Mr Giles more than the others – meaning the figure quoted in the Mirror is being up to date – yesterday – is likely to be less than half of the total more than a month ago.
But who’s right?
In honesty, I’m not surprised that the figures being touted around are all over the place.
I’m more inclined to believe Mr Giles’s high-end estimates because Boris Johnson’s rabble have been keen to play down the number of deaths from Day One, in their homicidally-insane rush to get us all back to work.
The confusion does invite speculation about the reasons for the Tory exaggerations, that can only instil false confidence in members of the public.
They are then more likely to get back into mixing with others, catch the disease and die.
Next time you watch a news report showing Tory statistics on the number of Covid-19 tests published out per day, bear in mind that the numbers are deliberately wrong – and that comes from the highest authority in the United Kingdom.
The Tories are hiding the facts about Covid-19 testing by blurring their definition of test, in order to maximise the number of tests they can report. This comes from Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority.
This Writer has corresponded with the UKSA on several previous occasions and you can take it from me: if the UKSA is saying something, you can be sure it is right.
He’s saying the way the Tories present their results is deliberately obstructing the purpose for which they are supposed to be carried out.
“Statistics on testing perhaps serve two main purposes,” he writes.
“The first is to help us understand the epidemic, alongside the ONS survey, showing us how many people are infected, or not, and their relevant characteristics.
“The second purpose is to help manage the test programme, to ensure there are enough tests, that they are carried out or sent where they are needed and that they are being used as effectively as possible. The data should tell the public how effectively the testing programme is being managed.”
He continues: “The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding.
“It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself.”
Of course the obvious problem gets an airing: “The headline total of tests adds together the tests carried out with tests posted out… There are no data on how many of the tests posted out are in fact then successfully completed.”
And this has also been brought to public attention: “The notes to the daily slides rightly say that some people may be tested more than once and it has been widely reported that swabs carried out simultaneously on a single patient are counted as multiple tests. But it is not clear from the published data how often that is the case.”
Moving on to the way the tests are presented to the public, Sir David reveals that “this presentation gives an artificially-low impression of the proportion of tests returning a positive diagnosis” – because the number of tests carried out has been artificially inflated, you see.
“More generally the testing figures are presented in a way that is difficult to understand. Many of the key numbers make little sense without recourse to the technical notes which are themselves sometimes hard to follow… Supporting spreadsheets… make it difficult to extract even basic trends.”
Perhaps crucially, Sir David moves on to criticise information that is omitted from test reports: “How many people in what circumstances are infected? Where do they live?
“Test results should include for example key types of employment (e.g. medical staff, care staff), age, sex and location (by geography and place, such as care homes).”
The implication is clear: figures derived from the testing programme are no good at all.
And Sir David lays down a serious warning about the new “Test and Trace” scheme: “Statistics will need to be capable of being related to the wider testing data and readily understood by the public, through for example population-adjusted maps of hotspots.
“The testing statistics still fall well short of… expectations. It is not surprising that, given their inadequacy, data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.
Here’s Sir David’s letter:
The letter has prompted a strong response – including from some former Conservatives:
Calm but devastating criticism of the misuse of statistics by govt & why that matters. Time for those leading the response to this deadly virus to stop the spin & listen https://t.co/lFOZUgCIJN
This is criticism from an incorruptible authority on statistics and, should an inquiry take place into government handling of Covid-19 (and I think one will), the Tories will need the UK Statistics Authority on their side.
If they don’t get that support, then they’ll be in serious trouble.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
The Tory government has been providing false death figures since the start of the coronavirus crisis, according to the Office for National Statistics.
ONS figures released today (March 31) show that the government has been ignoring any deaths that took place outside hospital.
So by March 20 (the cut-off date for the ONS figures), the total number of known coronavirus deaths was 210, not 170 as the government had claimed. That’s around 23.5 per cent more.
Today’s official death figure stands at 1,408. But if the proportion of deaths outside hospitals has remained consistent, we need to expect the real figure to be 1,739.
There is no reason to believe that the proportion of deaths outside hospitals has been consistent, of course. It could be much higher.
This is important because it shows that the Tories have been lying about the seriousness of the pandemic in the UK.
It means claims that the virus’s spread in the UK is slowing – based on hospital admission figures – cannot be trusted.
This Writer’s concern is that the government may use such figures as a reason to lift the lockdown prematurely – and give the virus a new lease of life as our isolated population socialises once again while the disease is still very much present, and remains deadly.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Land of disillusion: Another former Conservative burns his membership card. [Archive image: Daily Mail!]
The only reason Grant Shapps has demanded that the Conservative Party publish its membership figure is to embarrass Theresa May. That’s fine by This Writer.
Mr Shapps attempted to unseat the minority prime minister last year, after her disastrous performance at the Conservative Party Conference – but before the series of further calamities that befell the Tory government in the months that followed.
And the party membership figure is sore point among Conservatives.
Back in 2013, This Site reported that David Cameron had admitted the Tories had a membership of 134,000 – not the nearly-150,000 quoted in the BBC News article below.
That was a drop of almost half the membership, from the 253,600 who voted in Mr Cameron’s leadership election in 2005.
Now, the figures This Writer is hearing suggest that membership has almost halved again, to around 70,000 – that’s a fall of almost three-quarters in less than 13 years.
It doesn’t mean that much, though.
Remember, nearly 14 million people voted for the Conservatives’ selfish and homicidal policies in June.
They won’t die out of their own accord – privilege understands self-preservation.
The battle for Britain has always been one of persuasion. We must overcome unreasoning tribalism and irrational hatred of those who oppose the privileged few, as well as the Tory policy arguments, to win the stewardship of the United Kingdom and its citizens.
The Conservative Party should “come clean” about how many members it has, its former chairman has said.
Grant Shapps said “transparency” on membership numbers was vital even if the figure appeared to be “embarrassing”.
The party last published figures in 2013, when it had 149,800 members but has refused to publish an update since then.
Activists and academics have estimated it has fallen to 100,000, or less.
The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.
He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.
He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.
“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.
“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.
“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”
He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”
This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.
Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.
“As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.
“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”
Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.
In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?
Dominic Raab: An overprivileged, lazy rich boy who wants to bully minorities including the sick and disabled.
More Conservatives have voiced their indignation at comparisons between their attitude to the disabled and that of the Nazis in Germany during the 1930s and 40s – despite the fact that there are clear parallels.
The latest outburst was in response to claims by Sioux Blair-Jordan at the Labour Party conference, that if David Cameron enacts plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights, the disabled and sick “might as well walk into the gas chamber today”.
As explained in a Vox Politicalarticle yesterday, Ms Blair-Jordan’s criticism is accurate; clear comparisons can be made between the Conservative attitude to illness and disability and that of the Nazis.
Three examples are the adoption of ‘chequebook euthanasia’ in the work capability assessment ‘medical’ test, with people who have mental illnesses being asked if they have ever considered suicide – those who answer in the affirmative are then challenged over why they did not go through with it, provoking the claimant to consider suicide again; the fact that, after visiting the Auschwitz extermination camp, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith adopted the slogan over its gate “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free) and has used it several times since, to sum up his attitude to claimants; and the fact that, despite many Freedom of Information requests for the number of people who have died under the Conservative Party’s current benefits regime, the Tories – like the Nazis – have hidden the full effects of their policies from the public.
In the light of these facts, the indignation professed by some Conservatives at Ms Blair-Jordan’s comment can only be regarded with contempt.
Look at Dominic Raab. This creep co-wrote a book entitled Britannia Unchained a few years ago, in which he claimed that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”. At the time, his record of attendance at Parliament was among the worst of all MPs, at a meagre 79.1 per cent.
It seems Mr Raab is the one who prefers a lie-in to hard work – but he would clearly reopen the workhouse for the sick and disabled, given half a chance. It’s just one step from there to turn it into a concentration/extermination camp.
Yet he wants us to accept that “It is delusional, and shows extraordinarily bad taste, for Labour conference to applaud the delegate who equated the government’s common sense human rights reforms to Nazis sending innocent people to the gas chambers. Jeremy Corbyn should apologise immediately for embracing rather than distancing himself from the delegate. It points directly to his unfitness to lead.”
On the contrary – it is Mr Raab who is delusional. Let’s face it, he even describes his government’s fascistic plans to eliminate our human rights as “common sense”. It is hard to accept protestations that the Tories are not behaving like Nazis from someone who is upholding a policy demonstrating that they are.
Bizarrely, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism got on this bandwagon:
“Sioux Blair-Jordan’s reference to gas chambers was gratuitous and offensive. Over six million Jews as well as others, including the disabled, were murdered during the Holocaust, many of them in gas chambers.”
That is precisely the point. Perhaps this person should be joining Ms Blair-Jordan in opposing the Conservative Party’s behaviour, rather than siding with the oppressors. Perhaps this person should be reminded of the now-too-often-quoted words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, before the Tories come for him, and he finds out there is nobody to stand up for him.
Jeremy Corbyn is to be applauded. He is standing up for the sick, the disabled, and anyone else facing oppression from the overprivileged, spoilt brats who have conned their way into control of the UK.
The publication of the DWP’s damped-down death statistics (we’ll be given ratios because the actual number of deaths is too inflammatory, we’re told) will be a victory for those of us who have campaigned for the facts, no matter what they actually say.
If you didn’t know already, the DWP only announced that it would publish these figures on Thursday (August 27) after This Writer supplied his submission to the Information Tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the actual numbers – a submission which included a request to have the appeal struck out on the grounds that it is an abuse of process.
Suddenly the date of publication went from being “before the end of autumn” (according to Priti Patel) to August 27. Clearly the DWP was terrified that it would lose control of events and the public would get accurate information, and acted accordingly.
In short: IDS and his department fell apart like a paper bag in a thunderstorm.
It is impossible to say what the statistics will reveal, when they are finally published (at 9.30am on Thursday, it seems). Perhaps they will provide exhaustive information on the deaths that have taken place, broken down into the groups requested by This Writer and others (it is said to be in response to FoI requests), and also providing information on the causes of the deaths, with appendices containing the raw data used to produce the report.
Alternatively, we could get a dumbed-down piece of fluff that provides as little as possible that can be used to find out the extent of the carnage, but can be waved at us by Iain Duncan Smith as evidence that he has given us what we wanted… and as evidence that any figures demanded by the Information Tribunal are of little consequence.
That is the aim – damage limitation. To make it seem that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Plausible deniability.
The DWP already believes it has plausible deniability for every dodgy death on its books; no DWP representative can be said to be directly responsible for any of the deaths – they were a consequence of claimants’ illnesses, right? Even the suicides can be claimed as indicative of claimants’ poor mental health – except we know that anyone confessing suicidal thoughts at a work capability assessment is immediately asked why they haven’t already killed themselves.
Not conclusive? Maybe not. But then, that isn’t the only evidence available. It’s all part of a bigger picture.
In December last year, This Blog published a series of articles (here’s one) explaining how the DWP’s behaviour may be equated with the Nazi ‘chequebook euthanasia’ programme that eventually became known as Aktion T4 – a programme that caused the deaths of 70,000 German people with (among other problems) mental illnesses, before its methods were used against entire races the Nazis considered undesirable, in the extermination camps.
“It could be argued that the Coalition Government doesn’t have any blood on its hands. Nobody goes around the United Kingdom subjecting the sick and disabled to so-called ‘mercy’ killings, after all,” I wrote.
“They just subject people – who are already in an unstable frame of mind – to a highly pressurised ‘fitness’ test and then demand to know why, considering their condition, they haven’t killed themselves yet. Then they let those people do all the work themselves.”
On Thursday, it’s just possible that we might find out how successful they’ve been. If there have been more than 70,273 deaths in the last few years, the Conservative Party will have beaten the Nazis.
And Iain Duncan Smith intends to continue. Only this week, he announced a new plan to purge the Employment and Support Allowance benefit bill of mentally ill claimants. He told us “Work is good for your health”.
In fact, if you have a mental illness, work can drive you to an early death via a combination of (among others) stress, anxiety, depression and paranoia.
Duncan Smith’s claim that “Work is good for your health” may therefore be seen as a lie – almost as great a lie as the slogan from which it was adapted.
You’ll be familiar with it: “Work makes you free” – it hangs in its more familiar form of “Arbeit macht frei” over the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp that Duncan Smith visited in 2009.
The battleground: Field House, in London. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but it is where the DWP will try to slither out of its Freedom of Information oblligations – again.
The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has provided details of the venue for the ‘benefit-related deaths’ hearing at which the DWP will appeal for permission not to publish the exact number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011.
It will be at Field House, 15 Bream’s Buildings, London EC4A 1DZ, starting at 10am on November 10 this year. Apparently it’s a five-minute walk from Chancery Lane tube station; those of you with disabilities will need to plan extra time to allow for your conditions (although obviously you don’t need This Writer to remind you of that).
All tribunal hearings of this kind are open to the public, so if you are able to attend, please make a note of the date and location in your diary and come along. If you can’t, tell all your friends to come in your place.
Here’s a map:
Any and all support on the day would be welcome. The Conservative Government, by rush-publishing its fudged ‘ASMR’ statistics on benefit-related deaths, is hoping to quiet public unrest about the number of deaths that have taken place after its “welfare reforms”.
It seems clear that ministers are terrified that this issue will continue to blow up in their face.
This is your chance to show that you are not going to let it lie down and die.
‘Sarah’ – she doesn’t exist and her story is a fake.
How can we trust the Department for Work and Pensions’ figures on incapacity benefit claimants’ deaths when we’ve had scandal after scandal from it over falsified evidence?
The Department for Work and Pensions has been caught out in another lie – this time over the existence of people in two fake ‘case studies’ used to promote its cruel, unfair and vindictive sanctions regime.
‘Sarah’ was quoted praising the DWP for threatening to withdraw benefits if she refused to complete her CV, while ‘Zac’ praised the new benefit rules, which had allowed him to continue receiving his money because he had offered proof of a hospital appointment.
‘Zac’ – he doesn’t exist either and his story has also been faked by the DWP.
There’s only one problem – neither ‘Sarah’ nor ‘Zac’ exist.
The woman posing as ‘Sarah’ was also pictured in another government blog, The Daily Job Seeker, which offers advice on interview tips along with techniques and information about Universal Credit.
The DWP has been forced to admit that their comments were among a series of quotes on leaflets that were “fabricated” for “illustrative purposes”. All references to ‘Zac’ and ‘Sarah’ have now been removed from the various DWP information outlets.
The revelation that the DWP has been lying about its policies, using fake identities, has aroused yet another storm of protest against the Department and its Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Army bag-carrier who, This Blog maintains, should be removed from office as SNLR – ‘Services No Longer Required’.
It seems the DWP is claiming this blockhead had no knowledge of the deception, but it is impossible to accept this claim. The fictional accounts are intended to justify his failing policies and it is impossible to believe that civil servants would have created them if he had not demanded it.
Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn was quoted saying: “It is a damning indictment that civil servants are now being forced to make up quotes to cover for the failed political agendas of ministers, after the numerous debacles of Universal Credit, the work capability assessment, and the delays facing disabled people trying to get personal independence payments.”
Further embarrassment is in store for the DWP, after the industry body responsible for regulating the behaviour of organisations producing public relations material, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), launched an investigation into whether any of its members were involved.
CIPR president Sarah Pinch said: “Falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support is a naive and opaque technique which blatantly disregards the CIPR’s standards of ethical conduct. It is deeply disappointing if public relations professionals allowed it to be published.”
“A naïve and opaque technique which blatantly disregards… standards of ethical conduct.”
Let’s look at the DWP’s planned publication of Age-Standardised Mortality Rates for claimants of benefits including Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, and Several Disablement Allowance.
Firstly, we must ask why these figures are being prepared by the Department for Work and Pensions, and not by the Office for National Statistics (the organisation that has produced other age-standardised figures for the UK Government). Why?
The DWP and its representatives in Parliament have claimed that the creation of ASMRs has been undertaken by the Department, in order to meet “the high standards expected” by the UK Statistics Authority. Has anybody seen evidence that the UKSA has made any such demand?
Considering the ASMRs themselves, they provide a rate of deaths, per a certain number of the population, in comparison with the death rate among the population as a whole. It seems they are primarily used to predict future deaths. But the number of people on ESA is constantly fluctuating, meaning that a ‘standardised’ rate will be misleading – especially as we are led to believe the figures used will cover a 10-year period between 2004 and 2014.
Even if the DWP publishes a year-by-year analysis, the death rate per, say, 1,000 will not tell the whole story as a lower ratio in a year when more people were claiming may mask a higher number of deaths.
And that’s if the DWP is using reliable figures in the first place!
The only way to have factual accuracy from this lying tool of Conservative Party ideology is to have the data on which it is based – the genuine numbers of people who have died.
Campaigners (like Vox Political’s Mike Sivier) say Iain Duncan Smith is trying to fudge the figures.
View it as blowing my own trumpet if you like, but This Writer could not let the quiet announcement that the DWP will be publishing its doctored death statistics go by without a splash in the papers.
The Daily Mirror has been brilliant on this whole story and its latest article continues the run:
The department [of work and pensions] today announced a series of documents will be published on Thursday August 27th, detailing the number of deaths for people on out-of-work benefits, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.
But campaigners worry the Government intend to ‘fudge’ the figures – releasing them in a form that’s impossible to compare to previous releases.
Mike Sivier, the blogger whose Freedom of Information Request sparked the DWP’s panic, said the release is unlikely to include the actual number of deaths.
Instead, the department has signalled that they’ll publish “Age-Standardised Mortality Rates (ASMR)” – ratios of deaths of claimants when compared with the population as a whole.
Mike Sivier said: “It is remarkable that, after three years of inactivity, the Conservative Government has rushed these ‘fudged’ figures into publication so soon after I won an appeal against the Department for Work and Pensions, meaning the actual numbers – not the ASMR fudge – would have to be published.”
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.