The Scotsman’s Chris McCall today delights in reminding
us not to get too smug about falling hate crime in Scotland. The Guardian may
be worried by a ‘surge’ in homophobic hate crime in England and Wales but, hey,
The numerical response to the above parliamentary
question came in the form of this table showing a dramatic fall in the number
of charges made under Section 50A, by almost 50% in only the last 8 years: 91%
this image of a ‘remainer’ and a ‘leaver’, outside Westminster, we get one of
the most confused (deliberately?) accounts I’ve read, attempting to create
anxiety, for Scots, about something not actually there. Based on the
reflections of someone…
This is about fears of developing breast cancer, not Scottish
politics, but it’s the best example I’ve seen for some time of how easy it is
to generate anxiety with a badly-scaled graph and a comment from a supposed
expert. I feel sure it’s worth remembering for the next time the graph is about Scotland’s economy or crime or
drug deaths or whatever.
The BBC’s Head of Statistics (really?) presented the above
graph and then, astonishingly, said:
‘But if you take the most commonly
prescribed oestregen and progestogen it goes from 63 all the way up to 83.’
Because he doesn’t remind us that this is an increase from 63
out of a 1 000 to 83 out of a thousand or from 0.63% to 0.83% and
thus an increase of only 0.2%, his ‘all
the way up’ and the scaling of the graph make it seem particularly
The scaling of the graph is a classic, done perhaps for
innocent reasons of appearance or visibility, but it is wrong. The vertical
scale should go up to 1 000 so that the bars can be in accurate proportion,
Not so scary?
And, what about context? All good journalists claim to do it.
If you compare the risk of developing breast cancer when you smoke with the
risk when you have HRT might that be useful information for the viewer? It’s a
0.2% increased risk if you have HRT and 14% if you smoke. That’s a SEVENTY
times greater increase in risk. In the case of a woman with a family history of
breast cancer it’s 35% and that’s a 175 times greater risk.
I’ve searched the teachers’ part of the survey data of 184 pages,
and thus only at most 92 teachers, out of more than 24 899 primary-trained
teachers responding. The word ‘meaningless’ comes up 3 times, in the same one teacher’s
response. The word ‘meaning’ appears another 6 times but in only 2 of those
could it be taken to mean the same thing. This adds 2 more teachers to the
group describing the tests as ‘meaningless.’
Even if we restrict the eligible sample to the 2 or 3 000
working in P1 classes and exclude the other early stages teachers, infant heads
and the more than 20 000 trained at all stages and thus really eligible to
respond to the survey, and base conclusions on 3 respondents. Now that really
Though with no agreed definition,
snagging is the process of checking a new building for minor faults that need to be rectified. Every contract has minor ‘snagging’ issues which gradually
over time become thought of as maintenance.
BBC Scotland’s report does
not tell us who or what is the source of their ‘story.’ I suppose they’d be
embarrassed to do so. The rest of the report includes ‘for balance’ lots of positive
stuff but the damage is done by then for most readers.
Here’s a reminder of the
true story of this engineering marvel:
The criminal justice system [in England & Wales] is putting
more people at risk by failing to tackle potential serial rapists, the victims’
commissioner has warned. Dame Vera Baird expressed the concerns as official
figures showed that reports of rape are rising but the number of charges being
brought has fallen. Rapes reported to police rose by almost 13,000 to 54,045 in
2017-18, compared with 41,186 the previous year, with 11,913 attacks not
recorded as crimes, up from 8,624. The overall charge rate fell from 6.8% to
4.2%, according to data recorded by public bodies, gathered by the Rape
Monitoring Group and published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.
What planet has he been on? As Westminster experiences a virtual
putsch with defenestration not unlikely, he thinks Brexit has split the Scottish
parties in four-ways. He’s missed the obvious point that the SNP seems
unaffected, that the Tories have all meekly joined Boris, that Labour have been
whipped by their London bosses and that the Lib Dems are of no interest outside
their northern shoogly-fastness.
Has Frain been to see action in Holyrood or even read much of it.
See these accounts of why it is designed to be less fractious than Westminster.
First from Green Ross Greer:
chamber at Holyrood designed to encourage less confrontational debate and
greater compromise between different parties, Mr Greer agreed with the
suggestion that the tone of debate in the Scotland is quite different to that
at Westminster. “There’s definitely a difference across the board here,” he said.
“The Scottish Parliament was set up deliberately to foster a culture that was
about compromise and discussion and good-natured debate, rather than
oppositional debate. “Most of what the Parliament does is actually done by
consensus, but most folk wouldn’t know that, they wouldn’t expect that. “Most
of our committee reports are done by consensus, most legislation that we pass
everyone will vote for in the end.
Both chambers [in Westminster] are set out in an “adversarial
rectangular pattern”, meaning that parties directly face their opposition.
After the Commons Chamber was destroyed in 1943 during the Blitz, Prime
Minister Winston Churchill insisted it was rebuilt in the same shape, claiming
that “‘we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us”.
Holyrood’s single Chamber was constructed in the hemicycle (horseshoe) shape found
throughout European legislatures. Advocates of this design claim it encourages consensus and
compromise between parties.
With Scotland allocated yellow in the above line graph it’s
hard to see but income growth continues to climb under this SNP administration
to third place in the UK with SE England flattening out and only the East of
England keeping pace ahead of it.
This is a considerable achievement as Scotland pulls away
from London (purple) despite the latter’s unfair subsidising by the rest of the
the UK Conservative Party with Scotland-residing ones in their tow, go for
proven FAILED strategies and risk even more exclusions and the proven consequent
danger of more knife crime, the situation in Scotland becomes
other-better-worldly. This is taken from a report here in September 2018:
school exclusions from Scottish schools have been falling in the period of SNP
government. In 2006/7, 248 pupils were permanently excluded, and the figure has
fallen steadily to only 5 in 2016/17.
even national figures from the Department for Education indicate that 6 685
pupils were permanently excluded in 2015/16. That would be a staggering one
thousand three hundred times more than in Scotland, but the problem may be even
‘A study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
thinktank claims these figures mask the true scale of the problem, with pupils
forced out of mainstream schools by informal methods that are not captured in
national exclusions data. The report, published on Tuesday, says 48,000 pupils
are being educated in the alternative provision (AP) sector, which caters for
excluded students, with tens of thousands more leaving school rolls in what
appear to be illegal exclusions.’
If correct, English schools are permanently excluding pupils at
thousand times the rate in Scotland – 8% of the population
but only 0.010416% of the permanent school exclusions.
Just one of
the reasons why school exclusions need to be minimised is revealed in a further
‘Excluding children from school may lead to long-term psychiatric
problems and psychological distress, a major new study has shown. The research
by the University of Exeter also finds that poor mental health can lead to
school exclusion. The study found a “bi-directional association” between
psychological distress and exclusion: children with psychological distress and
mental health problems were more likely to be excluded but their exclusion
acted as a predictor of increased psychological distress three years later on.’
Previously, I’ve written about possible differences between life
in Scotland and that in England with a view to suggesting Scotland is becoming
a more collectivist, communitarian, inclusive place, maybe even a ‘better nation’, while
poor England, especially under (under is the word) the Tories, is becoming a
more divided, unequal and brutal place. Here are earlier reports suggesting a
difference that makes a difference: