The latest unemployment figures this week provided the main political parties with a back of sticks.
From that bag the SNP, Labour and the Tories could all chose a big stick of their choice and use it to beat the others, and how they did.
First to draw was the SNP who chose the ‘employment rate’ stick. It showed in Scotland the rate is up by 3000 and is higher than the UK we are told. True.
And we were also told the SNP would continue to” fight the Tory Government decisions” which undermine Scottish efforts at providing jobs.
Also we were told Scotland is outperforming the UK on employment for the young and women. Hurrah.
Next up was Labour whose stick was marked unemployment rates and lo and behold, it is up by 11,000 and… 9000 of them were women. Also true
So the stick is swung at the SNP whose record on creating jobs is “woeful” and the jobs created are “low paid and insecure”.
The Tories reached for the stick marked unemployment but with a percentage sign added for extra weight.
It tells us Scottish unemployment is now 6% and the UK level is only 5.3%. Again, true.
So the Tories demand to know why the SNP isn’t creating favourable conditions as the UK government is.
That’s the beauty of statistics, you can do what you like with them.
No matter the results or how the employment or unemployment rate shifts a little bit here a little bit there it always give the politicians a reason to bash opponents.
Sorry to sound like Johnny Ball and ‘Think of a Number’ (for the over 40s) but there was another set of statistics this week that caught my attention.
It was about housing benefit and bedroom tax cases.
Again there was scope for each to use that certain figures to undermine opponents.
But there was one figure that doesn’t move much from year to year that was startling.
In Glasgow there are 86,804 people claiming housing benefit.
Some will be in work, some out of work but each one is in a position where they are unable to meet their housing costs without government help.
It is higher than other comparable cities, almost 25% higher than Manchester, even higher again than Liverpool and four times higher than Newcastle.
Many of these people will be among the 3000 who have found a job in the last three months, but it doesn’t pay enough to meet the rent and everything else.
This level of benefit dependency has been stubborn in Glasgow for decades.
The stick all the parties should be looking for is the one that can beat that figure down.