Saturday, July 01, 2006

Unsure conclusion

A delayed post about yesterday's column -- the result of a late flight and a heavy schedule.  Others have already pointed out that:

Remember, before Labour there was no childcare, no nursery education and no Sure Start to help young families

is of course twaddle, and that the evidence on Head Start is ambiguous (with a source, unlike, of course, Polly).

It is interesting that when writing about the research into the success of Sure Start, which produced a result which Polly didn't like, she writes:

Another batch will be out soon, unless some wise minister reconfigures it to measure only what can be measured.

When you have the courage to lecture this particular government on how to fix research to produce the desired as opposed to truthful answer, then you've left any pretense at accuracy behind.

So others have fact-checked the big stuff -- here's a mere crumb.  Polly writes:

At prime minister's questions this week, Margaret Moran stepped in to urge him "to join me in congratulating staff" at the 11th Sure Start to open in her Luton constituency. It obliged him to sing its praises for once. 
[emphasis added]

Compare this to Hansard:

Q7. [80673] Margaret Moran (Luton, South) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of my official engagements yesterday was the opening of the 11th children’s centre in my constituency, at a school, Dallow junior, which has received over £2 million of additional investment for new facilities? Will he join me in congratulating the staff involved in that achievement, and does he agree that it is another example of this Government tackling child poverty, which doubled under the Conservative party?
[emphasis added]

Children Centre is not synonymous with Sure Start -- it is just one of the Sure Start's mechanisms.  There is also, for example, the Early Excellence Centre.  There's one at Pastures Way Nursery in Luton, for example (source).

Doubtless this will strike many as pedantry -- this one little inaccuracy doesn't alter the broad thrust of the argument.  However, if she can't really do the simple stuff like summarising Hansard correctly, it is harder to take seriously the policy recommendations, the reporting of anecdotes that she relies on so heavily, and, of course, the ever-present criticism of others for inaccuracy and relying on anecdote.

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