‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ abound

1 min read

According to Mark Twain: “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” I wonder what he would have made of the current referendum debate as to whether the UK should stay in Europe or take its chances in the wider world.

Statistics have been called on and marshalled by both sides to support their arguments in what is becoming an increasingly acrimonious debate. The airwaves are full of claim and counter claim; politicians are cranking up the debate, embarrassingly so, with some saying that leaving will end the world as we know it, others comparing the EU to the Third Reich.

I, for one, am desperate for facts, and not opinion. Now there’s even talk of further referenda if one side or the other doesn’t get the result they want – will it ever end?

Few companies are happy to go on the record at the moment as to whether they are pro exit or keen to remain. While Microsoft recently entered the debate urging the UK to remain, most companies in the technology sector either appear to be neutral or have declined to comment.

The UK’s electrical and electronics sectors are thriving, but whether this is because we are part of Europe or not, is up for discussion. According to ESCO council chairman Brian Holliday: “The UK’s electronics sector benefits from EU membership in three important ways: straight forward access to our major trading partner; a wider base to recruit and deploy skilled people; and high innovation impact through UK and EU research.”

He believes that, while the institution isn’t perfect and is in need of reform, much has been achieved through EU membership, especially as so much today depends on collaboration in a more interconnected world.

ESCO advocates a ‘remain, reform and revitalise’ agenda within the EU to ensure the UK can continue to benefit from the EU’s not insignificant support for our technology sector.

We’ll be looking at the ‘stay or leave’ debate in more detail in the next issue. Meanwhile, I started with a quote and I’ll end with another. “Facts are facts and will not disappear on account of your likes.” Cameron or Johnson? Certainly not!