Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Stonewall Jackson

Here’s a taste of a rather incredible exchange between Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP, and Jonathan Portes, Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

It began with a claim by Stewart Jackson that 37% of EU migrants to the UK have never worked, which Jonathan Portes quickly showed to be wrong. This was followed by some bluster and stonewalling from Jackson, which I’ve omitted for length, until the next morning he changed his claim to saying 37% of EU migrant job seekers, a number only a fraction of his original claim.

Not that he admitted to any error in this. Rather he made a further hash of it, conflating people looking for work with people claiming benefit.

Stewart Jackson MP is a member of the Public Accounts Committee.

More: Chris Dillow writes that the episode reinforces his doubts about the part expertise has to play in political debate, as “politics is about power, not truth.” But the Public Policy and the Past blog disagrees with such fatalism, asking “where would we be without a sense of scale and scope?”

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