OPINION15 February 2010

An important point

The Tories are in trouble today over an errant decimal point.

In a document released yesterday with the title Labour’s Two Nations, they claimed (three times) that in the most deprived areas, 54% of girls aged 15-17 get pregnant, compared to 19% in the least deprived areas. Labour were quick to point out that in reality it’s 5.4% and 1.9%. The Tories have acknowledged the error, and said a decimal point got lost somewhere.

The Tories were quick to correct the mistake, but Labour has leapt upon it as evidence of how out of touch they are. Everyone knows how easy it is to let a decimal point slip, but this was a major policy document. To believe that pregnancy rates for under-18s range from one in five at best, to more than half, does suggest a rather loose grip on reality.

This time they’ve corrected the mistake quickly (and quietly – the document now available on their website states the correct figures with no mention of the initial mistake), but it’s less than two weeks since shadow home secretary Chris Grayling got his wrists slapped for making comparisons between crime figures in the late 1990s and 2008/09, which the UK Statistics Authority said were “likely to mislead the public” because of changes in the way violent crimes are defined and recorded.


1 Comment

14 years ago

According to the Economist, the average voter believes 4 in 10 teenage girls get pregnant! http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15452867

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