Attack on bias in official figures silenced
Thursday 26 January 1995
Muriel Nissel, the first editor of Social Trends, wrote an 8,000-word history of the publication, which said that during the Thatcher years the Government drastically cut spending on official statistics; in particular the quality and quantity of politically sensitive social statistics suffered and Social Trends had to "fight for its life".
Statistics on poverty, the growing wealth gap between rich and poor and the North-South divide were either not collected or not analysed. Instead Social Trends placed more emphasis on "Mr and Mrs Average" and how well off they were.
In an article in the Independent today, Mrs Nissel says her original article was "blatantly suppressed". Calling for a review of the organisation and independence of the Government Statistical Service, Mrs Nissel says: "Unless the Government is prepared to support a statistical service which publishes uncomfortable as well as comfortable facts, a democratic society will not have confidence in it."
Mrs Nissel, a highly respected statistician, told the Independent she was "outraged" that her article had been banned by Bill Maclennan, head of the Government Statistical Service and also of the Central Statistical Office, which publishes Social Trends.
She said: "He objected to what I had to say about the 1980s, when the cuts in expenditure had a very severe impact on social statistics and Social Trends.
"If you are in an organisation you know that if you have to fight for your life you look over your shoulder. Those in charge were much more cautious about what information went out, even to other departments.
"They talked much more about Mr and Mrs Average and their families living in a hypothetical town and how well they were doing, rather than paying due attention to the growing divide between North and South, and the growing inequality of incomes. There was a fundamental change at that time."
At a press conference launching Social Trends a press spokesman for the Central Statistical Office said: "An editorial judgement was exercised. The article was commissioned but it was deemed to be political and too opinionated. It was deemed to be inappropriate for the 25th issue."
News analysis, page 13
Muriel Nissel, page 15
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
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