Tag Archives: statistic

Covid-19 fatalities: Are the Tories trying to confuse us to death?

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:

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.

So, I ask again the question in the headline:

Are the Tories trying to confuse us to death?

Source: UK coronavirus hospital deaths rise by 13 as total number of fatalities hits 33,945 – Mirror Online

Statistics supremo slams misleading Tory Covid-19 test figures

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:

Will the Tories pay attention?

I think they probably will.

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.

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Coronavirus: UK government death figures are FALSE

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.

Source: Coronavirus: Total UK deaths higher than figures released daily by government, new stats reveal | The Independent

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The power of suggestion: Jewish Chronicle poll shows public has been misled about anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn is supported by significant number of Jews. Perhaps they were the “wrong kind” and were not asked to participate in the JC’s poll.

Yet again, the Jewish Chronicle has turned the Labour anti-Semitism story backward.

The paper has trumpeted the results of a poll carried out by Survation, showing that more than 85 per cent of British Jews think Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

We all know he is nothing of the kind.

In contrast, the poll also indicates that only 98.3 per cent of British Jews think Theresa May – a genuine racist and anti-Semite, judging from her party’s support of the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Hungarian regime in the European Parliament – has no hatred of Jews at all.

It is a travesty.

Inevitably our friends on the social media have correctly identified the problem, which is media outlets like the Jewish Chronicle that push fake news rather than fact.

Sadly, this particular organ is not about to improve. It has a political agenda, which is the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in the UK.

Perhaps readers who wish their news to have a smattering of accuracy could consider altering their purchasing habits.

More than 85 per cent of British Jews think Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic, according to polling carried out for the JC. A similar percentage believe there are significant levels of antisemitism at all levels of the Labour Party.

The survey, undertaken by polling company Survation between August 12 and September 4, shows that 85.9 per cent of British Jews regard the Labour leader as antisemitic, while just 8.3 per cent believe he is not.

In a recent Survation poll among the general public, 39 per cent said Mr Corbyn was antisemitic.

Among British Jews, only 1.7 per cent believe Prime Minister Theresa May to be antisemitic, with 89.9 per cent saying she is not. Just 6.1 per cent say that Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is antisemitic.

Source: More than 85 per cent of British Jews think Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic – The Jewish Chronicle

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BBC gets the Ralf Little – Jeremy Hunt debate completely backwards

Jeremy Hunt and Ralf Little [Composite: BBC].

Note to the editors of the BBC’s Newsbeat: It’s Ralf Little who has challenged Jeremy Hunt to a debate, not the other way around.

And Mr Hunt’s claim that he’s waiting for Mr Little to “show the evidence” is arse-backwards – all the information was put to the world in a mammoth Twitter thread by the actor/footballer, weeks ago.

This Writer recorded the whole thing for posterity and you can read it here.

Mr Hunt responded with his own version of the facts – that thread is here.

Finally, Mr Little made a very few pointed remarks about Mr Hunt’s claims here.

So the information is all out in the public domain and, to be honest, I’m not sure anybody will be able to see what’s stopping Mr Hunt from getting into a TV studio and actually standing up for himself, rather than running away as usual.

Mr Little himself clearly thinks he provided all the information necessary for Mr Hunt to get into the TV studio, and is ready for more:

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/939821587880206336

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/939944229912137729

Yes – game on.

It’s time for Mr Hunt to stop hiding behind a lie about lack of evidence and concentrate on his own counter-claims…

In a TV studio. In front of millions of viewers.

We’re all waiting – for him.

The health secretary says he’ll debate actor Ralf Little over claims he’s lied about the NHS.

In an interview with Newsbeat, Jeremy Hunt says he’s waiting for the Royle Family star to “show the evidence” that he hasn’t expanded NHS mental health provision.

The pair started rowing on Twitter weeks ago after the MP appeared on TV talking about investing in care.

Asked about the row with Ralf Little, he said: “I get involved in lots of Twitter spats with lots of different people when I think they’re not being fair about the progress the NHS is making.

“He’s got to show me the evidence of what he’s said.

“When he provides that, I’ll happily come into your studio and debate with him, but he hasn’t been able to do that.”

Source: Jeremy Hunt challenges Ralf Little – BBC Newsbeat


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Ralf Little v Jeremy Hunt round three: Let’s have that live TV debate

Ralf Little: Don’t let the smile in the photo fool you – he’s totally serious about mental health.

If Jeremy Hunt thought he could get the better of Ralf Little with a belated barrage of warmed-over statistics from several years ago, he now knows otherwise.

After waiting more than a week for a reply to his challenge to the Health Secretary, Mr Little wasted no time showing the politician how it’s done.

Here’s what he had to say:

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933051665795731461

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933052048735637504

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933052747808759809

Mr Little’s words raise a couple of issues:

Firstly, it was always going to be impossible to prove that Mr Hunt “knowingly” lied in his Andrew Marr Show interview. The fact remains that the Health Secretary should be fully conversant with his facts before appearing in a television interview and it is not acceptable for him to provide false information. Would he have corrected the record at all if he had not been called out on it by members of the public?

Secondly, the claim is that Mr Hunt told a falsehood when he claimed he was overseeing the biggest expansion in mental health provision in Europe is open to debate. It seems possible to This Writer that Mr Hunt may be correct in his claim – but what good is that to people with mental illnesses if, starting from far behind the other European countries, the Health Secretary robs other areas of healthcare of their funding to actually achieve the biggest expansion in MH provision in the continent… and we end up still lagging behind those other nations?

It would be entirely reprehensible if Mr Hunt tries to win his argument on a technicality and ignores any adverse effects on NHS patients.

The aim of the health service must always be to provide the best possible care for all patients. Mr Hunt must demonstrate that his activities with regard to mental health are not harming other patients, and that the same activities don’t just achieve the “biggest expansion” that he has mentioned, but produce tangible results – a significant improvement in mental health outcomes, not only in the UK but in relation to the other European countries. He set the NHS up against them; he must deliver an NHS that bears comparison with them.

For these reasons, This Writer supports Mr Little’s challenge; I want to see the live TV debate.

I want to see Mr Hunt, supported by his people, trading facts with Mr Little, supported by his people.

And I want to see the debate arbitrated independently – meaning nobody from the BBC Tory-supporting news team.

Make it happen, Mr Hunt. Put up or shut up.


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Jeremy Hunt responds to Little’s lesson on mental health – but is he credible?

Here’s what most doctors think of Jeremy Hunt, I reckon [Image: Sean Hansford/MEN].

It is hard to give any credence at all to Jeremy Hunt’s Twitter thread on his claims about mental health care in the National Health Service.

The current debate started when the health secretary failed to respond positively after Professor Stephen Hawking challenged him to a live television debate.

The issue then was Professor Hawking’s claim that Mr Hunt cherry-picked statistics to suit his narrative – for example, with his claim that a “weekend effect” caused an increase in the number of NHS patient deaths. This claim was subsequently proved false.

So actor Ralf Little took up the baton, offering to debate Mr Hunt on television, in place of Professor Hawking, and claiming that Mr Hunt had “knowingly lied” when he said he had overseen the “biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe”.

It seems Mr Hunt has chosen to respond to Mr Little – not by accepting the challenge, but in kind – with a lengthy Twitter thread in which he quotes statistics (selectively?) in support of his claims.

It is more than a week since Mr Little posted his own thread. Why the delay? Was Mr Hunt waiting for his aides to come up with statistics that would support him? In that case, he’ll be guilty of cherry-picking again.

Let’s have a quick reminder of Mr Hunt’s record as health secretary, with this infographic from the end of last year:


And, has he convinced anyone with his current argument?

Let’s consider what he has to say (with some tweet-specific replies thrown in – and I apologise for the repetition of some tweets; Mr Hunt has a very strange way of constructing his thread):

Notice that Mr Hunt begins by setting out the claim, then goes straight into a put-down. Ralf Little has acted in comedy, certainly – that doesn’t make him a “funny bloke” and if he chooses to tackle a serious subject then he deserves to be treated seriously. And Mr Little did not trade any insults – he made an assertion and provided factual information to support it.

An increase in staff is not necessarily an increase in doctors and nurses, though.

So, even if we take Mr Hunt’s word on the numbers, less than half these new staff are fully-qualified – and qualified in what, exactly? Mr Hunt says nothing to suggest that they are qualified medical practitioners specialising in mental health care.

Nurses in training do not equal an expansion in MH provision now – and an increase in nurse training places does not mean that candidates will step up to fill those places, especially as it now costs a considerable amount of money to train as a nurse.

https://twitter.com/wendaville/status/932719930813894657

21,000 posts? What kind of posts? And – let’s remember – plans do not always become reality.

Hang on – he states that spending went up last year, and this has delivered notable improvements in MH “in the last seven years”. How was this achieved? Time travel?

Let’s consider some of the general replies to Mr Hunt’s thread:

https://twitter.com/Daniellemalaur1/status/932620529693052928

https://twitter.com/David_Hesford/status/932671407623897089

https://twitter.com/tania_linden/status/932684574823415808

So what do you think? Is Mr Hunt credible?

I would suggest that he is not.


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Actor Ralf Little’s lesson for Jeremy Hunt on mental health provision

Ralf Little: Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to see another gurning photo of Jeremy Hunt.

It seems clear our entertainers are sick of sharing the media with lying Tories.

Here’s Ralf Little, reminding Jeremy Hunt of the facts about mental health in no uncertain terms – and not only does he put the Health Secretary firmly in his fact-doctoring place, he goes on to propose that he accept the challenge Mr Hunt laid down to Professor Stephen Hawking, for a public debate on the subject.

What a put-down!

See, by issuing the challenge, Mr Hunt was claiming he knows better about science than the man we accept to be the UK’s smartest scientist.

By offering to accept the challenge for Professor Hawking, Mr Little is saying Hunt can be beaten by an actor with no advanced skills in either science in general or medicine in particular (I accept I may be doing Mr Little a disservice here, as I know nothing about his education).

I doubt Mr Hunt will accept the challenge; he has too much to lose.

But I would certainly watch the debate.

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/924636074231717888

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930128900629368832

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129192292966401

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129481326620672

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930131874319601664

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132506388688896

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132743811489793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930133042747887618

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930133109676396544

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930134634792439810

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930134756108505088

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135387804241925

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135544738271237

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135683892641793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135861454409728

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930136031340441601

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137129077878784

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137535866703872

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138146595106817

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138218607140865

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138387369091073

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138592512442374

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138739560546305

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138903297871879

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139110739730432

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139292692893701

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139626811125760

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139784370118657

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140104563286018

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140405043269633

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140578213449728


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Actor Ralf Little schools Jeremy Hunt on mental health provision

Ralf Little: Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to see another gurning photo of Jeremy Hunt.

It seems clear our entertainers are sick of sharing the media with lying Tories.

Here’s Ralf Little, reminding Jeremy Hunt of the facts about mental health in no uncertain terms – and not only does he put the Health Secretary firmly in his fact-doctoring place, he goes on to propose that he accept the challenge Mr Hunt laid down to Professor Stephen Hawking, for a public debate on the subject.

What a put-down!

See, by issuing the challenge, Mr Hunt was claiming he knows better about science than the man we accept to be the UK’s smartest scientist.

By offering to accept the challenge for Professor Hawking, Mr Little is saying Hunt can be beaten by an actor with no advanced skills in either science in general or medicine in particular (I accept I may be doing Mr Little a disservice here, as I know nothing about his education).

I doubt Mr Hunt will accept the challenge; he has too much to lose.

But I would certainly watch the debate.

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/924636074231717888

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930128900629368832

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129192292966401

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129481326620672

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930131874319601664

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132506388688896

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132743811489793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930133042747887618

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This is Theresa May’s excuse for saying unemployment is at an all-time low

The only reason Theresa May was able to say unemployment was at its lowest since the mid-1970s, as she did in Prime Minister’s Questions today (September 13) is this:

The Department for Work and Pensions has been forcing jobseekers to take work on zero-hours contracts, meaning they may be employed for only three hours a week but would still be off the benefit books.

This means the government is pushing vulnerable people into debt, with the attendant problems of stress and ill-health that come with them – storing up problems for the future, in fact.

It is small-minded and short-sighted. One can only assume that Mrs May thinks a Labour government will have to handle these problems when the public finally loses any and all patience with her party’s absolute and utter inability to run a country properly.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that it is using the controversial benefits sanctions regime to force unemployed and low-paid workers into insure and exploitative zero-hours jobs.

Zero hours contracts notoriously offer no guarantee of hours and lack many of the employment rights enjoyed by people in full-time and part-time employment.

The shocking revelation was exposed following a written parliamentary question at Westminster, to which the DWP Minister for Employment Damian Hinds MP admitted: “If there is no good reason that a Universal Credit claimant cannot take a zero-hours contract job they may be sanctioned for not doing so.”

Universal Credit is replacing a number of existing social security benefits and tax credits with one single monthly payment, and has faced strong criticism from opposition parties and charities alike.

The flagship new benefit is gradually being rolled out across the UK, despite growing concerns that deep-rooted flaws in the system may push low income families into debt and closer to eviction.

Yesterday, the charity Citizens Advice warned that plans to accelerate the roll-out of Universal Credit are “a disaster waiting to happen“, explaining that is likely to push low income households into a financial crisis.

Source: DWP using benefit sanctions to force claimants into zero hours jobs, Tory minister admits


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