Wednesday 9 March 2016

Lies, damn lies and statistics

The UKIP-hating, Labour-supporting "Independent" newspaper has made yet another poor attempt at portraying UKIP supporters as small-minded Little Englanders.

According to their research, the areas where UKIP has most support loosely correlate with fewer people owning passports and vice versa. This, they imply, means that UKIP supporters don't like travelling to foreign parts, probably because we're all small minded racists.

UKIP's core supporter base falls into two key demographics: older people and the working class. Older people were brought up in an era when foreign travel was uncommon. Package holidays only took off in the 1950s and it wasn't really until the 1980s when it became common to jet off to Spain instead of nailing a tent to the side of a hill in Wales for your summer holidays. People on low incomes tend not to go on foreign holidays because heating and eating is more of a priority than foreign holidays.

The Independent highlights London as "evidence" of its dodgy conclusions where almost everyone has a passport but support for UKIP is low across the city. According to the official figures, 37% of the population of London is foreign born and just 45% of the population of London is white British. Foreign born residents are much more likely to have passports, as are the descendents of first generation immigrants who still have close family ties have family abroad.

Many things affect levels of passport ownership in a particular area such as class, unemployment levels, the size of the immigrant population and whether it is an urban or rural area. Any loose correlation with levels of support for UKIP is purely coincidental. Of course, statistics can be made to "prove" anything as the Independent have shown.