January 19, 2021

Public is being fed ‘number theatre’ by government

The UK public is being fed “number theatre” by the government instead of “genuine information”, a leading statistician from the University of Cambridge told the BBC on Sunday.

David Spiegelhalter criticised the government’s daily briefing, saying “seems to be co-ordinated really much more by a Number 10 communications team” rather than led by experts.

“I just wish the data was being brought together and presented by people who really knew its strengths and limitations and could treat the audience with some respect,” he said.

Spiegelhalter wrote an article for the Guardian in April which has been quoted by government ministers when they argue against comparing Britain’s high death rate to other nations.

But earlier this week he tweeted to ask ministers to stop citing his article.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “What I was talking about was the comparisons between the bad countries in Europe such as UK, France Italy, Belgium – I was not saying we can’t make any comparisons at all.

“Clearly it is important to note that we as a group are way above Germany, Portugal, Norway, who have low mortality rates.

“What happened in this country was not inevitable,” he said.

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