Friday, 23 November 2018

'Knowing' what we think

Conservative Minister, Rory Stewart, was rightly ridiculed last week for inventing a wholly bogus claim that “80 per cent of the Brexit public support this deal”.  But he isn’t the only one who makes it up as he goes along.  Within the last few days, we’ve had David Davis talking about “the Canada style free trade arrangement that almost everybody wants for the UK”, and the boss herself saying that the public just want the process to be "settled" and see the UK leave the EU on 29 March 2019.  Both of these seem to be just as evidence-free as the remark for which Stewart was roundly criticised – Davis’ ‘almost everybody’ sounds like rather more than 80% to me, and ‘the public’ sounds a lot like a claim that everyone is included in the remark.  Perhaps Stewart’s mistake was actually putting a figure on it; the moral seems to be that they can get away with even more outrageous claims if they avoid making them sound quite so precise.  But here’s the thing – if they all ‘know’ with such certainty what the public thinks, why are they so afraid of proving it?

No comments: