Tag Archives: Brexit effects

IoD (Institute of Dummies)

Grumpy has to admit to still being a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, so he was slightly irritated to see this organisation falling into the propagandists trap of obfuscation and distortion (probably at the behest of political connections) to join Brexit Project Fear.

This was ably assisted by that home of journalists with an agenda, aka the Guardian newspaper. Its writers seem to have only a kindergarten grasp of statistics, and use that ignorance to distort and conflate data to promote their agenda. The headline in this case is a report that the IoD had announced that “one in three UK firms plan for a no deal Brexit relocation”.

A House of Commons briefing paper (06152) was (conveniently) published in December 2018 and gives a detailed breakdown of corporate UK. It reveals that there were 5.7 million business in the UK in 2018. Taking the IoD headlines, that implies that some 1.8 million businesses plan to up-sticks and relocate to an EU country in the case of no deal. Further, the Iod release also states that 1 in 10 businesses, or 570,000, had already set up operations overseas.

This is simply not credible, and the IoD must know it.

However, let’s be forgiving, and exclude ‘micro-businesses’ with 9 or less employees. The figures still imply that 85,000 businesses had moved, or plan to move, part of their business to the EU, and that 25,000 had already done so, driven solely by the threat of no deal.

Grumpy has written before of Project Fear pronouncements which arguably suffer from lack of conditionality, sample selection bias, and unsupportable extrapolations from small samples, and these numbers strongly suggest that the IoD are guilty here. In fact they sampled a mere 4% of their own members for the base numbers, and presumably extrapolated the responses. [For the benefit of the analysts at the IoD 100 – 4 = 96, so 96% of their members had no input]

The press release read that “one in three British businesses are planning”. No, they are not. They may be planning, but to present as a statement of fact that they all are actually doing so is sheer sophistry, as well as being the sort of appalling journalism so common from the Guardian. (Grumpy has written several times about their writers presentation of assumption as fact.).

Further it’s extremely unlikely that the 30,000 IoD member firms are a properly representative sample of UK businesses as a whole, and yet the IoD PR people generate wording the veracity of which is not only highly suspect, it is knowingly so. The headlines should have been properly qualified as as ” a survey of less than one half of one percent of UK SME’s ..”, and even that would be hugely generous because of selection bias.

The fact is that a great many people read the headlines without any thoughtful analysis,and rely on the reputation of the source to ascribe levels of credibility to them. Worse, such headlines often get picked up by MPs and used to advance an agenda, such as the idiotic speech by MP Danielle Rowley on ‘Period Poverty’, about which Grumpy recent write.

Grumpy expected something more balanced from the IoD as an industry body.