The Tories’ shocking new crime leaflet

New election leaflet features bloodied machete and bogus statistics.

Tory election leaflet (front)

Photograph: Girl With A One Track Mind

Here's the charming leaflet the Tories are sending out in Edmonton in an attempt to persuade voters to back their PPC Andrew Charalambous.

It features the sort of bloodied machete you might expect to find on the front of a low-budget slasher flick, and goes on to claim in gory letters that Britain has become "the crime capital of Europe". It's all rather at odds with David Cameron's call to "let sunshine win the day".

But worse, the leaflet indulges in exactly the sort of statistical manipulation that earned Chris Grayling a rebuke from the UK Statistics Authority earlier this year.

As you'll remember, Grayling was criticised for directly comparing crime figures from now with those from before 2002, even though changes made to recording methods after this date meant that such a comparison was invalid.

Tory election leaflet (rear)

But last month the Tories claimed that a new study by the House of Commons library made a direct comparison possible by stripping out 24 per cent of the increase in violent crime to account for the new recording methods. It claims that unpublished data from the study goes on to show that violent crime has risen by 44 per cent since 1998.

Yet, as ever, there's a catch. The 24 per cent figure accounts for only one year of the changes, even though the violent crime figures were artificially inflated for at least two to three years.

Michael Scholar, the head of the independent UK Statistics Authority, was forced to write to the Tories again, warning that their use of crime statistics remained potentially misleading.

He said: "[A] more balanced commentary on national trends in violent crime would, in the view of the Authority, also make reference to the estimates given in the British Crime Survey, which in our view provide a more reliable measure of the national trend over time."

The British Crime Survey, which has recorded crime in the same way for almost 30 years, tells a very different story from the one spun by the Tories. As the graph below shows, violent crime has fallen by 48 per cent since 1995 and by 41 per cent since 1997.

bcs_crime91_09

Dodgy data, scare tactics, violent imagery . . . you may well wonder what happened to the Tories' promise to run a campaign based on "hope, optimism and change".

With the polls tightening again, perhaps a return to old politics was just too tempting to miss.

Hat-tip: The Straight Choice.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Are there “tens of thousands” who still don't have their Labour leadership ballot paper?

Word has it that swathes of eligible voters have yet to receive their ballot papers, suggesting there is still all to play for in the Labour leadership contest. But is it true?

Is there still all to play for in the Labour leadership contest?

Some party insiders believe there is, having heard whispers following the bank holiday weekend that “tens of thousands” of eligible voters have yet to receive their ballot papers.

The voting process closes next Thursday (10 September), and today (1 September) is the day the Labour party suggests you get in touch if you haven’t yet been given a chance to vote.

The impression here is that most people allowed to vote – members, registered supporters, and affiliated supporters – should have received their voting code over email, or their election pack in the post, by now, and that it begins to boil down to individual administrative problems if they’ve received neither by this point.

But many are still reporting that they haven’t yet been given a chance to vote. Even Shabana Mahmood MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, still hasn’t received her voting pack, as she writes on the Staggers, warning us not to assume Jeremy Corbyn will win. What’s more, Mahmood and her team have heard anecdotally that there are still “tens of thousands” who have been approved to vote who have yet to receive their ballot papers.

It’s important to remember that Mahmood is an Yvette Cooper supporter, and is using this figure in her piece to argue that there is still all to play for in the leadership race. Also, “tens of thousands” is sufficiently vague; it doesn’t give away whether or not these mystery ballot-lacking voters would really make a difference in an election in which around half a million will be voting.

But there are others in the party who have heard similar figures.

“I know people who haven’t received [their voting details] either,” one Labour political adviser tells me. “That figure [tens of thousands] is probably accurate, but the party is being far from open with us.”

“That’s the number we’ve heard, as of Friday, the bank holiday, and today – apparently it is still that many,” says another.

A source at Labour HQ does not deny that such a high number of people are still unable to vote. They say it’s difficult to work out the exact figures of ballot papers that have yet to be sent out, but reveal that they are still likely to be, “going out in batches over the next two weeks”.

A Labour press office spokesperson confirms that papers are still being sent out, but does not give me a figure: “The process of sending out ballot papers is still under way, and people can vote online right up to the deadline on September 10th.”

The Electoral Reform Services is the independent body administrating the ballot for Labour. They are more sceptical about the “tens of thousands” figure. “Tens of thousands? Nah,” an official at the organisation tells me.

“The vast majority will have been sent an email allowing them to vote, or a pack in one or two days after that. The idea that as many as tens of thousands haven’t seems a little bit strange,” they add. “There were some last-minute membership applications, and there might be a few late postal votes, or a few individuals late to register. [But] everybody should have definitely been sent an email.”

Considering Labour’s own information to voters suggests today (1 September) is the day to begin worrying if you haven’t received your ballot yet, and the body in charge of sending out the ballots denies the figure, these “tens of thousands” are likely to be wishful thinking on the part of those in the party dreading a Corbyn victory.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.