Making Stats Work for the Few

Scottish Labour campaign group “Scotland Organisers” put out this tweet on Friday with a video containing an interesting graph.

The graph appears at around 21 seconds in but is only displayed for a split second so blink and you’ll miss it. I’m guessing the group do not want you to spend too much time looking at this graph as the data is actually very damming for ScotLab. The graph itself comes from data collected by the charity group shelter.

Below you can take a better look at this graph and see why this data looks very bad for Scottish Labour. The solid red line shows when Scottish Labour were in power and had responsibility over homelessness and the Yellow Line shows when the SNP were.

Those respective directions of travel are striking, aren’t they?

Because while homelessness did indeed rise by a tiny amount last year, the reality is that having skyrocketed during the entirety of Labour’s eight years in control of Holyrood, even with last year’s small rise it’s fallen by over 40% since the SNP came to power. Indeed, it’s lower than it’s been at almost any other time for quarter of a century, and substantially lower than it was at ANY time during Labour control.

In the strictest technical sense Labour can of course get away with claiming that “homelessness has risen under the SNP”, so long as you measure it on a REALLY short scale. But despite a decade of global recession and UK austerity, the problem has in fact been almost halved in Scotland, whereas in England it’s been rising for the last seven years and is now almost exactly where it was in 2007.

(And we should probably recall – for contrast – that Labour also ran Holyrood during an unbroken economic boom, when its budget from a friendly Labour administration at Westminster rose every year, whereas the SNP’s has been slashed by the Tories.)

So the next time Scottish Labour try to whizz something past you, you might want to have your finger ready on the pause button.

Originally reported on wings