We all use quotes without any idea of whom we are quoting. If ever asked it’s a fair guess to say Shakespeare, or perhaps the Bible.

However, I do know where one of my favourite quotes comes from. I know because I looked it up. It was popularised by Mark Twain. But he attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. 

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Statistics are only as good as the method used to formulate them. Even good statistics must have an interpretation and context. One person’s 80 per cent success rate is another’s 20 per cent failure rate. The way politicians use statistics shows the need for context. 

An example is “we are spending record amounts on the NHS”. This may well be true but in the context of inflation the value of the spending is much lower than it was. Other statistics bear this out. Ever lengthening waiting lists, falling value of worker’s wages, chronic, and acute, job vacancies. 

A world class health service hollowed out and brought to its knees by Conservative government austerity cuts. But they are still spending record amounts on it. It’s the dark art of political spin; misleading with the truth.

I experienced this dark art the other day. As you have probably heard by now, the charges of the East Hampshire District Council car parks are set to rise next year. It will be a rise of 25 per cent. It is part of a mass of other council charges set to rise.

The most striking one is the garden waste service. The current charge for one bin, allegedly collected once fortnightly, is £76 per year. The new charge will be £120 per year. This will be a whopping rise of 58 per cent. This is for the most complained about council service too. 

Near neighbour Arun council have recently announced a rise for their garden waste service. From £72 to £86, roughly in line with inflation.

District councils only collect the waste. They are charged for its disposal. Arun and East Hampshire have difference disposal providers. However, Havant use the same provider as East Hampshire and their charge is £74. I challenged this massive difference. I was told that the residents of Havant pay Havant Borough Council more council tax than the residents of East Hampshire pay the East Hampshire District Council.

Is this true? Band D council tax is used as the nationwide standard comparison between councils. The Band D council tax in Havant is £2,082, in East Hampshire it is £2,084.

Untrue then. But, parishes in East Hampshire provide public services that our taxes pay for. The East Hampshire District also provide public services that our taxes pay for. There are no parishes in Havant. Havant Borough Council provide all these services. East Hampshire provide fewer services so takes less tax.

East Hampshire residents do pay the district council less. But in the context of services provided probably not. It’s Conservative councillors’ tricky spin.

Today Disraeli might say “Statistics, damn statistics and political spin”.