"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital."
Helen, Your Freedom and Ours, posts on an exchange twixt Lords Pearson and Sassoon during the recent debate on the former's Bill. When discussing the economic aspect of our membership of the European Union (and not, as Helen quite correctly states, our relationship with Europe), it appears that statistics were quoted by those taking part from three sources: The Pink Book, Treasury and the Office of Budget Responsibility. It is a well known fact that when in a discussion, protagonists will naturally select those statistics that are of most use to their argument. It is extremely difficult for any observer to make a judgement, following any debate on any matter, if there is not one accepted reference point.
Another question arises, which is if Pearson's Bill succeeded (which it won't - pound to a penny - probably being killed off after Committee Stage) what figures would be used in any cost/benefit analysis and from what source(s). If, in the plural, how would we be able to agree or disagree with the findings? The Office of Budget Responsibility is supposed to be 'independent', but one has to ask whether any body set up by government is independent - vested interests/pressure from the government-of-the-day........?
And there, dear reader, lies the problem with representative democracy and politicians - we can't trust either!