The man who has been lined up to step into Dominic Cummings’ shoes has lashed out at one of the Conservative Party’s long-term advocates in the press after it published misleading data on the coronavirus crisis.
MP Neil O’Brien, who is set to lead a new policy board in No 10 and fill at least some of the policy void left by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, took to social media to point out flagrant inaccuracies in a Daily Mail chart that claimed fatalities are “barely any higher” than in previous years.
The Daily Mail published this chart. 2 things about it struck me. First, I’d seen the same data from the ONS, which sadly showed excess deaths in recent weeks – in fact higher than any time in the last 5 years. But this chart purported to show just the opposite. First, the Mail: pic.twitter.com/X1ojuc8v9n— Neil O’Brien MP (@NeilDotObrien) November 23, 2020
The figures seem to be directly pulled from a Twitter account called the “Statistics Guy” who, in O’Brien’s words, is nothing more than “a cranky Covid-denial feed run by a guy with a cartoon avatar.”
The account has been known to advertise things like mass demonstrations against “The Great Reset”, a conspiracy theory which claims a group of world leaders orchestrated the pandemic to take control of the global economy.
O’Brien also points out that it is strange that the graph cuts off at a certain point when deaths start to rocket at over 200-a-day above the 5 year average.
It is quite strange that the graph cuts off there. The next week of data had come out on the 17th, and the Mail published on the 20th. But oddly, they chose not to publish the next week of data, which showed excess deaths rising to over 200 a day above the 5 year average. Odd.— Neil O’Brien MP (@NeilDotObrien) November 23, 2020
The Yorkshire-born MP for Harborough concluded by saying reports like this are not isolated incidents.
“Why am I going on about one wrong graph? Because actually it’s not just one graph: in fact the papers are filled with a torrent of this kind of thing: “Hey, there’s no real coronavirus problem, we can call just get back to normal”. Sadly, it’s just not true.
“While everything should be questioned (that’s what science is), some of the papers need to apply the same standards to covid-denial content from random people with cartoon avatars that they do to the real scientists and clinicians on SAGE.”