Monday, 2 November 2020

The second lockdown : why are we not allowed to see meaningful statistics?

I wrote in the strongest terms I knew how whilst still seeking to remain respectful, to my local MP, and urge you to do so also. Note, on the first major paragraph, that graphs of the possible costs (only) of not locking down that were shown, accompanied by small-print disclaimers saying that they are not predictions, are not at all what is meant by a cost/benefit analysis, of the kind usually published by governments for decisions many orders of magnitude less significant that this one.

(My address)

Dear sir,

I, as you no doubt also did, listened to the Prime Minister's announcement on Saturday.

I asked myself, where is the overall cost/benefit analysis of the health, social and economic gains and losses of lockdown? Apparently there is not even a plan to publish one before Wednesday's vote. After 8 months since the idea of lockdown first entered public debate, and over 7 since the first began, this is absolutely reprehensible.

Secondly, where was/is the open publication of the studies and data being used to justify this decision? Again, after all these months, we are still being asked to accept graphs with disclaimers printed in small print on the bottom (that these are not predictions or projections, but just some sort of scenario that the government is unwilling to attribute a likelihood to), and the implied insinuation that the Prime Minister's chosen experts are obviously correct (whereas the multitude of experts who strongly disagree are obviously wrong). This also is absolutely reprehensible.

I have an MMath from the University of Oxford (1st class), including masters-level modules in statistics. The government's use and manipulation of statistics during this crisis has been appalling. Its practice of hiding its working, even now, is beyond words. I urge you to vote against lockdown on Wednesday. It cannot be in your constituents' interests to close down their lives on the mere say-so of people who refuse even to allow proper scrutiny of their decisions, and who will be the last to endure the consequences of their decisions. A parliamentary vote, in the absence of the accompanying information to make that vote meaningful, is not scrutiny. It is not meaningful accountability. It is scrutiny in name only, a sham and an insult.

Yours sincerely,
David Anderson esq.

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