Monday, 17 April 2023

Adding up the numbers


Answering a question from the BBC’s Chris Mason this morning on nurses’ pay, the Prime Minister was at pains to point out that, allowing for turnout, only a minority of the whole RCN membership voted to reject the deal. He’s right, of course, and it proves that he can at least do some simple maths (maths being his chosen subject of the day). He is clearly implying that a majority of 54% to 46% doesn’t really count, because it’s not a majority of the whole electorate, and in any event the RCN had advised members to vote for the deal. I seem to remember another vote in the fairly recent past where, allowing for turnout, only a minority voted for the outcome and those running the vote (the government of the day) advised people to vote the other way. In that particular case, I could have sworn that Sunak was amongst those arguing that it was an absolutely definitive vote which must be respected. It’s probably just a new branch of applied mathematics (Sunakian rather than Euclidean) under which the validity of any arithmetical result depends on the ideological perspective of the observer. It fits the post-truth world in which we seem to be living, but I’m not sure that learning this new type of mathematics, even up to 18 years of age, will actually serve to make the UK population more numerate. But then, that isn’t really what he wants. A truly numerate population would be challenging the government on a whole range of issues where their numbers simply don't add up.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Not wishing to speak up for Rishi in any way but the propensity for selective interpretation is a common characteristic of most of those who exist in our current political pond. The water in said pond is now seriously polluted, stagnant even, by the thinking and selfishness of most of our politicians. Starmer and his crew are not much better if at all and the lot in the Bay Bubble are just living in a parallel universe where priorities are utterly garbled. If they were given a great deal more funding could we rely upon them to get a grip on the real problems that confront our communities or will they exist in eternal poverty while our petty elites chase even more deluded ideals ?