Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Lib Dems and their barcharts

In the week after Phil Woolas was exposed as a liar, and his appointment as Shadow Minister probably Ed Miliband's biggest misjudgement since becoming leader, Keir thought he would cast some light on one of the Lib Dems best known and loved campaigning practices. In the shadow of what has happened in the past week, Keir feels he must state that of course this practice is all above board and not at all designed to be misleading...

Drawn to Jenny Willott's (Useless, Cardiff Central) website after having to apologise in the house after supporting changes to housing benefit she had previously criticised (note Keir flagging up the sloppy editing of her website)  Keir spotted a very odd looking barchart on the side of the page. It just didn't look right, and maths wasn't one of Keir's strongpoints:

So, geniuses, in the General Election if the Tories had doubled their vote to 42% they would have won, but according to Jenny, 42% would have STILL put them behind Labour, while +10% for Labour would have probably put them into the lead! Well well well, those nasty lying Lib Dems.

Keir clicked on the bar chart and was taken to this page, where the numbers and the proportions look more accurate. To help, Keir tidied them up for you and put them in a graph:

But, unsure even of trusting the Lib Dems this much, Keir made his own: (1 is Lib, 2 Lab, 3 Con: his Excel skills don't stretch that far!)

So, this is a question of proportion. Why, one wonders, have the Liberals been so loose with the truth. I am sure this could be repeated in umpteen different constituencies throughout the country. Of course, in Cardiff Central the reason is that many Liberal voters are anti-Labour voters rather than dyed-in-the-wool yellowbellys, and if those voters in their nice houses in Cyncoed realise that a Tory win is plausible, they may go back home, leaving the Labour vote to stand up and nick it. Also, they motivate not only these anti-Labour voters but also their base by overemphasising how near the Labour vote is.

So, what's the rationale behind this post? Well, its quite simple. The Liberal Democrats not only lie on a large scale: about things like tuition fees, they are amongst the most insidious campaigners on the ground and this is one of the main reasons why they are detested by so many of all political persuasions.

Keir has a question for Jenny Willott's staff:

"In the interest of openness, especially after the ruling in Oldham last week, can you tell me exactly why you produce such a misleading bar chart on your website?"

Can't imagine there will be a reply mind...

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