Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

i Deputy Editor's Letter: Looking into past performances

 

This week has seen a number of stories based on past-performance figures. We began on Tuesday with the economy, after the 2014 growth forecast for Britain was revised up. Then came a fall in unemployment on Thursday and, yesterday, a drop in crime rates.

It’s nice to be able to feature some positive stories on the front of the paper for a change, but despite all these statistics being acquired from independent bodies (the International Monetary Fund, the Office for National Statistics, and the Crime Survey for England and Wales, respectively), their interpretation  is open to debate.

At the end of the week the Government also said that the average wage had risen, claiming figures showed that all except the richest 10 per cent saw their take-home wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent, once tax cuts were taken into account – more than the CPI rate of inflation, at 2.4 per cent.

But your anecdotal evidence tells a very different story, so who is right? The key is in how the statistics are presented. By changing the parameters, most figures can be given results that back up the rhetoric – to some extent at least.

When the Institute for Fiscal Studies accused the Government of “fiddling” numbers on the recovery yesterday, it acknowledged that it had used “a perfectly sensible set of numbers” to calculate take-home pay for the 2012-13 period. It’s just that it used annual figures – up to April 2013 – rather than the most recent weekly set of figures. Labour’s counter-assertion that real annual wages had fallen by £1,600, on average, since 2010, was also dismissed as giving only a “partial picture”.

When you add in the news, also this week, that the National Audit Office has found wrong and inconsistent recording of hospital waiting times, it raises serious questions about the way statistics are used  for political gain.

Will governments – or the opposition – ever stop using the extremes to present the figures they want and give us the whole picture?

If I were to tell you that I hope to be alive for at least another 50 years, and that life expectancy when I was born was 72, you might even think  I’m in my early twenties!

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick