Stats NZ is politically neutral … Labour isn’t

Look, I have no idea why Labour feels it is necessary to run their election campaign as a bunch of muppets – but they have, and in order to keep surprising everyone with their ridiculousness they have attacked the political neutrality of Statistics New Zealand.

The complaint is that Statistics New Zealand said that their trend measure of building activity was crawling up, at the same time there was a sharp seasonally adjusted drop in consents in September.  The reason for this was that August was “strong” (relative to recent history) – so even with the decline September was a stroke higher than we have been used to, and the real “trend” measure of activity they have (and have always talked about) did increase.

Look, this isn’t just a case of Phil Twyford not being able to understand data – I mean, that is part of it it seems, but that isn’t the whole issue.  I’ll even ignore that fact that Twyford seems to think political parties run the economy – a fallacy among politicians that gives them a sense of unwarranted self importance.  The most confusing issue for me here is that anyone would think this is the best use of scarce time on the campaign trail – you can arbitrarily attack Statistics New Zealand and get zero votes (as it is such a non-issue), or you can be a competent politician and go out to try and get votes by talking to the public and showing them that you are the best option in terms of meeting their interests.

If Labour was a real opposition party, their members would be doing the second.  Hopefully they will be by next election, so that I actually feel like I have a choice when that election comes along – a competent opposition is essential for democracy … just saying.

  • D.J. Taylor

    Could not agree more with you Matt. As a political scientist and advocate of democracy this situation makes me both angry and sad.
     
    It’s a sad state of affairs when the so-called primary opposition party cannot make those currently in charge break sweat during an election campaign. It’s not like National have been all flowers and rainbows for goodness sakes. Labour have just handled their task abysmally, making themselves look foolish and doing the public a great disservice.
     
    It’s a sad sad day for any democracy when there’s clearly only one way things are going to go based largely on an ineffectual job from the leading opposition party. L
     

    • One day we will have competent opposition – we just need to hope its soon 😉

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  • Pete

    Politics is not science. In Feynman terms, it isn’t even stamp collecting.

    • D.J. Taylor

      Trust a physicist to say that (re: Feynman). Depends on your definition of “science” Pete. (Physical or natural) Science it is most certainly not. However, if it is an emperical investigation of social (political) interaction(s) that utilises scientific method is it not a (social) science? 🙂

    • alwyn

      Please, please.
      It wasn’t Feynman, it was New Zealand’s own Ernest Rutherford who said that science was either Physics or stamp collecting.

  • A little typo over there: “not being able to understnad data ” (delete my comment once you read it)

    • Thanks for that – I picked up a couple more typos while fixing that one 😉

      No need to delete the comment, my inability to write properly is a common theme on this blog.  Hopefully the fact that I’m inconsistent with my spelling and grammar doesn’t take away from the message.

      I should really write these posts in word first so I can keep a more careful eye on these things 😉

  • DT

    All fair points, and I understand your (mistaken) decision to not vote Labour this time. I assume that you must be voting green 🙂