To quote Mark Twain, There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Perhaps it’s time to replace the last of these with political manifestos.
In April the government opened some rather mundane consultation on the way they capture educational outcomes of pupils according to income group. The report included the somewhat redundant observation, The percentage of children at selective schools from below median income families, who are not considered disadvantaged, (36%) is almost the same as the percentage for non-selective schools (35%).
True enough the yellow bars are about the same length although in the context of understanding social mobility it’s their position which is really relevant. This was no big deal in the original report because it was one of a number of neutrally stated facts given in context and the above graph makes it abundantly clear that the grammar school system is prejudiced against disadvantaged children.
What is a lie?
To transform this factual DfE into a lie the Tories stripped away data which the DfE described as key; disadvantaged children and those from above median income families then come up with a totally meaningless label, ‘ordinary working class’. Just when you think they could stoop no lower in quoting official statistics completely out of context, the Tory manifesto. Page 52 says, Contrary to what some people allege, official research shows that slightly more children from ordinary, working class families attend selective schools as a percentage of the school intake compared to nonselective schools.
Coming from a writer doing their utmost to decieve the reader that’s a bit rich and it’s hard to see how Teresa May could be more manipulatively deceptive in her dogmatic pursuit of reintroducing grammar schools but then, lying to the public in the lead up to elections now seems to be the accepted norm.
A while back I signed a petition proposing the creation of an Office of Electoral Integrity but I can’t really see politicians ever countenancing something which curtails their ability to wantonly deceive the public for political gain. I’m going to have to rely on the tried and tested way of telling when they stop lying; observing when their lips stop moving.