In today's column, Polly wirtes about the by-elections to the Wyre borough Council in Lancashire. She writes:
Last Thursday, two weeks after the main local elections, there was a byelection in Park Ward, the poorest in Lancashire and the second-safest Labour seat in the county; activists piled in to support a good local candidate. But they were shocked to lose, with a staggering 27% swing to the Tories in a seat that was never Tory before.Well, actually, the last time the ward was contested, in May 2003, the ward had two seats, so actually no-one had held that one single seat before (see, for example, here). Polly also writes that:
Labour is already delivering more babies: the ONS suggests a rise in the birth rate is partly due to mothers getting more help.A nice pun, but an unsourced claim. I cannot find any reference to the ONS saying why the birth rate has increased -- indeed, their 18 May press release of the figures is just a bland statement of the facts. On the other hand, according to the, er, Guardian on 19 May:
"We looked at the reasons for this slight, hopeful rise," said Julia Margo, author of a report called Population Politics published in February by the Institute for Public Policy Research. "It seems to map on to 2001 when Labour started pushing on family friendly policies and childcare. There is a better deal now from government than ever before." But, she added, there were other possible reasons that do not hold out promise for the rise across all groups which is needed for a sustained increase in births. "We don't have access to the background data, which would tell us whether there are socio-economic differences, whether professional women will still be having less children." It could be that the rise is restricted to poorer women and those from migrant groups, who traditionally have had larger families.
So, it's not the ONS, which is a non-partisan government department, but rather the Institute for Public Policy Research which isn't. And it "seems to map" and they "don't have access to the background data." But otherwise an accurate summary.UPDATE: In the column, Polly also writes that:
Surveying their staff at the Treasury, the officer class have just discovered that 88% of them have never worked for anyone but Gordon Brown.This doesn't really seem to square with HM Treasury's Departmental Report of June 2005 (pdf link here) which says on page 47 that:
The Treasury encourages staff to gain outisde experience through secondments to both other government departments and the private sector. ... In 2004, 52 per cent of all new entrants were loaned or seconded in, and 16 per cent of the total staff in post at the end of 2004 were either on loan or seconded. Similarly 12 per cent of Treasury staff were on loan or seconded out to other organisations. [emphasis added]