Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Stange factoids, indeed

In today's column, Polly Toynbee writes:

The whole sector spends £25bn a year (the state spends £400bn).

Actually, at £457bn, it's closer to £500bn (see Public sector finances, April 2006.  pdf link here).  Being right to the closest £100bn is quite a low bar for accuracy...

She also says:

Is it the same nostalgic delusion that led John Major to dismantle the railways, forgetting that they would always need taxpayers' cash?

These clearly cannot be the same, apparently dismantled railways which Social Trends 36 means on page 182:

The number of journeys made on Great Britain’s railway network (including underground and metro systems) rose by 114 million between 2003/04 and 2004/05, to 2.2 billion. There were around 1.3 billion passenger journeys per year in the early 1980s and, apart from a period in the early 1990s, these numbers have generally increased. Between 1993/94 and 2004/05 passenger numbers rose by 44 per cent


Neil Harding said...

Scraping the barrel again I see. £500bn public expenditure makes Polly's point about how little the voluntary sector spends even more relevant!

Neil Harding said...

You railways point is even more off topic and stupid.

The taxpayer is contributing more subsidy to the railways than before.

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Neil, old thing, welcome back!

Re the 400/500 -- as I have said countless times before, I'm not trying to prove or disprove her arguments here, merely point out her sloppy use of facts. I'm pleased you're excited that it makes the point "even more relevant", but it doesn't change the fact that the figure was wrong.

wheatley said...

In addition Mr Harding the point was about the word "dismantle" which fails on two counts

As pointed out, it is not a correct description of what has happened. User numbers are up.

Moreover it is a needlessly pejorative term with a "value overlay" designed to set the terms of the debate rather than reflect the true situation.

The railways are still there - and to all intents and purposes back in state control sadly

Keep it up "factchecking". There are one or two other opinion formers who should be challenged - starting with Neil Lawson

Ben said...

This blog is as trivial as that other blogland based bastion of Right Wing fussiness, BiasedBBC.


Serf said...

This blog is as trivial as that other blogland based bastion of Right Wing fussiness, BiasedBBC.

To lefties, facts don't matter, its the cause that is important.