Misrepresentation or Manipulation

As Election day draws near the parties are making the final push in persuading voters of their worthiness, but one party is overwhelming with the amount of information they are putting through the letter box. The Lib Dems. Liberal Democrat literature seems to be coming through my door every other day. Edinburgh Cental, you see, is a target ward for the Lib Dems, where they are hoping that Siobhan Mathers can beat sitting MSP Sarah Boyak.

I can understand a certain amount of bias and one-sidedness in promotional material, but dishonesty annoys me. Nestling in the corner of the April 2007 edition of the Lib Dem produced Edinburgh Central News is possibly the worst graph I have ever seen (right hand side). A gross misrepresentation of the actual figures I feel.

At first glance the graph appears to suggest that the Lib Dems are very close behind Labour, with the SNP trailing way behind. Then you look at the numbers. In the 2003 elections Labour got 32% in Edinburgh Central, and the Lib Dems 23%, a difference of 9%. The SNP with 18% were just 5% behind the Lib Dems: So how come this 5% gap is represented as being about five times bigger than a 9% gap?

So time to put these figures into a well know spreadsheet package me thinks…

The graph on the left is a scan of the graph in the Lib Dem produced Edinburgh Central News, on the right is the same figures on a graph drawn to scale. I have also included the axis, and set the graph to start at 10%. The graphs look pretty similar in most respects – the only colum that doesn’t is the orange one. In the left hand chart the Lib Dems seems to have been elongated somewhat!

I will be voting green on the Regional List. I still haven’t made my mind up about whose getting my constituency vote yet, but I know who isn’t getting it; Siobhan Mathers.