Government manufacturing strategy: why the FT doesn’t need to let facts get in the way
The Financial Times says Lord Mandelson’s manufacturing strategy is failing to convince manufacturing employers. But they use journalistic sleight of hand to make the evidence fit the story better, suggesting that the FT editorial line of support for tax cutting Tories rather than Labour investors has bled into the news pages.
According to the FT, only one in three manufacturers contacted (leave aside whether 57 is a representative sample!) “believes the business secretary’s ideas to boost production industries will do any good.”
The table showing the results of the grandly titled “FT manufacturing barometer panel” reveals that 20 said his policies “would help”, and 37 said it was “hard to say” or would be “no help”. But without knowing how many were in each of those two categories, it’s difficult to sustain the thrust of the article, illustrated by 5 quotes (a clearly unrepresentative 4 of them in the “no help” category), that manufacturers oppose his strategy. For all we know, more manufacturers think the ideas will help than not, and there’s no evidence at all that anyone thinks they would actually hinder manufacturing.
Mind you, maybe he was lucky. The finding of the survey that 37 of the 57 thought there would be a recovery in 2010 was illustrated by just 1 quote – saying there wouldn’t!
Why let the facts get in the way when you’ve already decided the story?