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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Massaging those statistics

Hands up all those who recall Labour Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman claiming last month that 32,000 people have joined Labour since the General Election, one third of them ex-Liberal Democrats?

At the time I asked how she could know? After all the Labour membership form does not ask you to provide information about previous political affiliations. In addition, the Liberal Democrats have not lost anything like 1,000 members in that period, never mind 10,000. In fact we have had a net membership increase of around 4,000.

Well the bright light of the Labour leadership contest has put her claims into context. The party issued the voting figures by constituency together with the number of ballot papers issued. So we know that they currently have a membership of 177,559.

This is 559 more than they reportedly had in May 2007. Hardly the massive advance that Harriet and John Prescott were reporting. In fact if I were less charitable I would say that they were gilding the lily a bit in an effort to get the party back on track. Do they really think the voters are that gullible?
Harriet Harman can't read her car's speedometer accurately ... so why should anyone take notice of her 'numbers'.
Superb stuff. I dont think the headline "Labour membership recovers back to the dying days of Blair" would have got them good media coverage though...

Unless they meant 32,000 have joined since but 32,500 have also left?
However, the figures you outline are 3 years out of date aren't they?

The article itself is a lovely bit of sniping at Labour because they'd lostg over 200,000 members since 1997. If they continued along that trajectory they would have lost a further 20,000 per year to 2010 meaning that they'd have something lik 60,000 less by this election.

Hardly 'massaging the statistics' is it? Why do Lib Dems have to use such hyperbolic language about Labour?

In fact, it is you who massages the statistics by choosing which point in time you wish to make the comparison with. How far back do we want to go?

If you want to criticise Labour for coming from such a low base that is a different criticism and one that I believe Labour need to think hard about.

Anyway, why are you still so obsessed with Labour? You're not the opposition anymore. Shouldn't you be getting on with holding your party to account in delivering what those who voted for you are expecting (such as no VAT increase) and trying to keep your slash-happy collaborators and your Orange Book economic amatuers in check?

Regardless, I would suggest you edit the title of this blog to better represent the facts.
Andrew, I left that possibility open in what I wrote.
Mat Morrisroe - so are you still claiming 32000 extra members since May, 1/3 Lib Dems? Because it is patently not true that 10000 people have left the Lib Dems. In fact as Peter says, membership is 4000 up (actually I believe it's 4500). So what Harriet Harman said cannot possibly be true.
According to their accounts for last year Labour had a membership of 156,205 at 31st December 2009.

This suggests a rise of 21,394 since then.

Therefore if Labour lost another 10,000 or so members between 1st Jan this year and the General Election Harman's figures could be right, although that seems unlikely to me.

However as Lib Dem membership has also gone up since the election, and retention levels of existing members have also gone up, it is unlikely that her comments about 10,000 coming from the Lib Dems have any basis in fact at all.
Mrs B, just clarify for me whether Harman said they we former members of the Lib Dems?
Mrs B, did Harman say they were ex-Lib Dem members or ex-Lib Dems? Or are you only a Lib Dem if you're a member?

Andrew Reeves, as I pointed out the figures in that article are from 3 years ago.

What I find telling is that so complete is the Lib Dem capitulation that you're trawling through the Torygraph to find anything to attack Labour with, even if all you can find is 3 years out of date.
Why is it no surprise that this is yet another example of the illegal war - torture & rendition party being dishonest & duplicitous.
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