Political leaders went to war this week.
Baffling us with figures, numbers and costs.
Or lies, damned lies and statistics.
That’s how it felt.
We all have to decide just who we believe before voting on December the 12th.
But is it wise to quote figures in business?
Or should we keep them out our presentations?
And remove them from our media interviews?
You may recognise this famous quote:
“There are three kinds of lies:
It was wrongly attributed to British PM Benjamin Disraeli by American writer Mark Twain.
Ironic, as he was pointing out how misleading figures can be.
So let’s look at three case studies from the election campaign last week.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes this claim about Brexit:
“Economic analysis says it will cost every person in Scotland £1,600.”
But the figure comes from a Scottish Government assessment before the referendum.
Saying output in Scotland would be hit to the tune of £9 billion a year.
And if you divide that by Scotland’s population, you get £1,600 a person.
But that’s the change in Gross Domestic Product, which indicates the size of the economy.
Rather than what we earn.
Two different things.
So that statistic needs to be dismissed.
The Tories say Labour’s spending plans will cost £1.2 trillion.
Chancellor Sajid Javid claimed the UK economy would be on
“the brink of bankruptcy“.
Hang on though.
What’s a trillion?
It’s a thousand billion.
Or a million million pounds.
And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell calls the claim
as the figures were largely based on Labour’s 2017 manifesto.
Rather than its 2019 election manifesto.
And there are assumptions about creating new departments.
So that claim loses credibility.
And the statistic also fails.
So what figure do the Conservatives put on their spending plans?
Perhaps Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng could tell us.
As he appeared on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on the Sky News Channel.
He called Labour’s spending plans
“reckless and unaffordable”.
But when pressed to put a figure on his party’s plans , he refused to do so, saying:
“I’m not going to bandy around figures.”
So impossible to analyse that one, without a figure being revealed.
So that spending plan fails to get off the ground with an invisible statistic.
The way they use figures, our political leaders lack credibility.
Business presentations and media interviews need to be much clearer.
And in 25 countries across the world.
With complete honesty.
It’s vital that we build trust in business if people are to buy what we’re selling.
Little wonder so many feel disillusioned with politicians when their arguments lack credibility.
Because of lies.
Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can read his full profile here.
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