The graph above is classic Eoin Clarke: propaganda for credulous boneheads.
Take a statistic.
Find a way that simplifies and distorts reality with a big, shiny, wedge of colour.
Then display it to ‘show’ an apparent rising trend of misery under the Ministrations of the Tory Government. Here he’s talking about ‘bankruptcies’:
The graph above shows the accumulated total number of personal insolvencies in England & Wales from May 2010 until 31st March 2012. It shows that more than 230,000+ people have gone bankrupt under the Tories. If this rate of personal bankruptcies continues at this rate for the rest of this Tory government then close to 600,000 people will go bankrupt under this Tory government. There is some good news in today’s figures which show a 4.5% reduction in personal insolvencies but of course that is no succour to the 28,000+ people who went bankrupt in the first 13 weeks of this year.
Where to start?
The statistics are here on the Insolvency Service website, and you want the “Individual insolvencies in England and Wales, 1960 to present” spreadsheet.
Under Dr Eoin’s ’bankruptcy’ category he conflates:
- ‘Bankruptcy Orders‘, which are a traditional bankruptcy,
- ‘Individual Voluntary Arrangements‘, which are contracts with your creditors to pay reduced debts or at a reduced rate, and
- ‘Debt Relief Orders‘, which allow small (<£15000) debtors to apply online, stop paying debts, and walk away from them after 12 months.
- Deeds of Arrangements, which are more specialist and hardly ever used.
Debt Relief Orders were introduced by Gordon Brown in 2009, and in the last 2 years traditional “bankruptcies” have halved from 18,256 to 9,132.
Let’s explore the numbers.
Question one: Is the Evil Tory (never mind that it’s a coalition) government worse than the previous 2 years?
Er .. no.
A cumulative graph is the wrong one to display this data; the trend of interest is whether “bankruptcies” are increasing or not, and a cumulative graph conceals that information.
And as for selecting a segment from a basically section of graph, hoicking it out of context, and using it to pretend that this selected period is uniquely awful … the mind boggles.
Question 2: What does the longer term trend show in bankruptcies?
Here’s the graph that Eoin Clarke should have used if he wanted to make some intelligent commentary on trends in bankruptcy, showing the different types. This graph runs from 1990 to 2012:
So what do we conclude?
a – The number of insolvencies has been gradually increasing for the last 15 years.
b – The number has reduced quite sharply under the current government, from a peak roughly when Mr Gordon was thrown out into the place of ghashign and grinding of teeth.
c – Dr Eoin’s presentation is both wrong and simply misleading. We cannot comment on whether that is down to dishonesty, ignorance, or sheer clueless stupidity.
It is far from axiomatic that a bankruptcy, or an increase in personal insolvencies, is a bad thing in itself. The objective is to resolve an impossible situation in an orderly way. But there a lot of complex points here, and reducing it to a simple misrepresented graph is to treat your audience with contempt.
I’d say. however, that the new system of Debt Relief Orders provides a significant perverse incentive for running up, or not addressing, debts while you do something else (eg finish a course), in the knowledge that you can walk away after a year.
Given the number of people beating Dr Eoin over the head with pig’s bladders in the hope that reality will seep in, it is incredible that more ‘journalists’ continue to use him as a source, whether or not he’s the Director of “Labour Left, The Home of Ethical Socialism”.
And the intellectual hollowing out of left commentary continues apace.