jackson carlaw
Image: Scottish News

At today’s Holyrood briefing, Jackson Carlaw made much of the UK statistics watchdog’s criticism of the First Minister’s assertion that coronavirus rates in England are five times higher than Scotland. This week they are demonstrably 4.7 times higher. Any fool can check that.

That they are, was not the issue for Carlaw but that the Office for Statistics Regulation has supposedly ‘damned’ the SNP because the statistics they used were problematic, for them as pedants.

The watchdog had two concerns. From BBC Scotland:

It said the first minister had used data from an unpublished estimate of the prevalence of the virus that was compiled by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and had used a “UK estimate as a proxy for England”.

The watchdog is sniffing up the wrong tree.

The London School of etc had to develop its own estimate because of serious concerns that Public Health England [PHE] is under-estimating the figures. The ONS with the FT have demonstrated confidently that they are only collecting about 66% of the deaths.

As for ‘unpublished’, that is positively archaic. Peer-review takes around two years by which time the data would useless. An esteemed university department’s figures based on transparent criteria are open to scrutiny. No one has questioned them.

The FM had to use UK figures as a proxy for England because the ONS, the UK Government and, in collusion, the BBC only present UK figures, in an attempt to shield the population of England from the awful truth of what their government has done to them. Tomorrow once the data for the 31st is in, I’ll reveal the UK death rate to be more than 30 times higher per head of population.

It’s clear from the daily data that 90% plus of cases and deaths are in England. England has 80% of the UK population. So, in the absence of data for England, it’s reasonable to use the UK as a proxy for it.



Surely using the UK figures as a proxy for England will bias the result slightly against Scotland, since Scotland’s better performance will improve the UK figures slightly overall.

The watchdog should be trying to get the English authorities to come clean before it wastes everybody’s time with pedantry aimed at supporting the Conservative party’s interests.