The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Monday, September 12, 2005
Livingston by-election: SNP statistics
by Peter

One of the benefits of a Scottish by-election is to remind one what an interesting bunch the SNP are.

Their approach to statistics is particularly interesting. Apparently their platform is now based on preaching the benefits of cheap oil. And according to the SNP residents of Livingston pay more for their fuel than the rest of the UK.

This may be true - but the SNP don´t seem to have any sensible evidence. Their survey is of just 12 stations "in and around the Livingston constituency" showing an "an average pump price for unleaded of 95.1p and 97.7p for diesel (while) [t]he UK average yesterday was 94.6p and 97.3p."

So the extra burden in Livingston is, according to the SNP, just half a per cent more than the UK average (making their rhetoric rather over the top). But in any case a sample size of 12 stations is hardly sufficient to establish that there is any difference at all.

The SNP do not give a source for the UK average figure quoted. One would expect this to be the average cost of a litre sold, rather than the average cost at all UK stations. If so (and until they publish their sources we can´t check) the comparison is completely bogus. Their figure would need to be weighted to take account of the different quantities sold at different stations. Sensible Livingston motorists will buy most of their fuel where it is cheapest - just like motorists do in the rest of the UK.

Not that their offer to the electorate is all that exciting. All they suggest is to exempt future increases in fuel prices from VAT. On their figures this would currently be worth around 33p a week to local motorists. It isn´t clear that this will have Livingston voters queuing at the forecourt.

Elsewhere they are suggesting that:

"Livingston is a two horse race and only the SNP can beat Labour. The other parties can only get in the way."

This isn´t the obvious way of describing a seat where the gap between Labour and SNP was nearly 30%, and the gap between SNP and Lib Dem Charles Dundas just 6%. But no doubt they have their reasons. And as we have seen, they always do their statistics differently in the SNP, not just when constructing barcharts. But an iron law of UK politics is that only Lib Dems get criticised for their barcharts. So this is just an observation!
posted by Apollo Project @ 9:06 pm  
5 Comments:
  • At 12 September, 2005 11:42, Blogger Stephen Glenn said…

    Fortunatley this is a two horse race from what I'm seeing on the streets and the SNP are not one of those horses.

    Cook's supporters who are not backing Devine will not be voting Constance but many are saying they will be voting for Dundas.

     
  • At 12 September, 2005 20:04, Blogger Apollo Project said…

    thanks, Stephen. Good news!

     
  • At 13 September, 2005 18:26, Anonymous Innocent Abroad said…

    So the SNP are using barcharts creatively?

    And what is imitation the sincerest form of?

     
  • At 17 September, 2005 19:47, Anonymous Cllr Iain Lindley said…

    I do wonder, how many times has a similar situation in terms of percentage share, with a Liberal Democrat candidate in second place, resulted in a "Labour can't win here" or "the Tories can't win here".

    What goes around, comes around.

     
  • At 21 September, 2005 21:48, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hmmm, I wonder how many hundreds of occassions we can find LibDems who were second with any other party in third by less than 6% claiming to be "a two horse race" and that "only the LibDems can win here".

     
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