A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teenage pregnancy rates in Hackney

The Tory "broken Britain" document published on Sunday with it's now infamous missing decimal place on teenage pregnancy was using the borough where I am a councillor, Hackney, to produce its dodgy stats.

It claimed "In the most deprived areas, 54% are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18." The figures were based on statistics for the 10 most deprived areas in the UK - Birmingham, Easington, Hackney, Islington, Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newham, Tower Hamlets, but with the real rate multiplied by ten.

The real rate of teenage pregnancy in the City & Hackney PCT area is 5.7%, not 54%.

Still too high but down by 25.9% from a rate of 7.7% between 1998 and 2007.

If such a basic, check-able fact gets published in print by the Tories exaggerated by ten-fold, how much more of their "Broken Britain" narrative is just Daily Mail style hysteria?

What makes this worse is that they actually have a reasonable presence on the ground here (nine councillors, at least until the May elections) so ought to have some awareness of the reality of the situation. Just a glance around at the number of prams and buggies on the streets and the apparent age of the people pushing them would have told the 54% figure was nonsense.

Inner city areas have enough social problems for councils and governments of any political colour to tackle without spurious stats being made up to scare swing voters living a long way away in suburbia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A daft error by the Tories, but aren't Labour over reacting a little. An error by a junior policy wonk hardly undermines their whole approach. They don't have armies of civil servants to promulgate spin on their behalf remember...

4:32 pm, February 17, 2010

Blogger Piers said...


A neutral comment and a minor paraphrase of a comment I left elsewhere.
Numerical literacy is just as important as the, um, wordy kind. It does seem that too many people can spot an impertinent apostrophe from 50 yards yet are oblivious to a rogue number in a column.
This mistake would have been spotted by anyone with a head for figures (as distinct from being able to toss off a stat in blink of an eye).
Apart from that, I think it's such a shame that the mistake is always the story. Childish too.

8:30 pm, February 17, 2010


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