Dubious figures

PUBLISHED: 10:16 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

SIR, — I was interested to read Lorna Wang s letter under the headline Longer life (Herts Advertiser, October 23). In expressing her well-founded doubts concerning the very suspect methodology employed by the Primary Care Trust in tabulating figures for

SIR, - I was interested to read Lorna Wang's letter under the headline "Longer life" (Herts Advertiser, October 23). In expressing her well-founded doubts concerning the very suspect methodology employed by the Primary Care Trust in tabulating figures for life expectancy, she brings to mind the remark of Benjamin Disraeli that there are "lies, damned lies and statistics".

The issue invites further comment following the prominence given to it in the previous week's Herts Advertiser and the conclusions drawn from the PCT's figures by Cllr Roma Mills, Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Albans.

One great danger with surveys of the sort in question here is that they are readily seized upon by politically-motivated persons to make invidious and meaningless comparisons as a means of spreading social prejudice. If, as Cllr Mills asserts, London Colney has serious health problems - including some, which she does not mention, resulting mainly from bad elective lifestyles - these should be addressed on their own particular merits.

Incidentally I am rather surprised to find a prospective Labour candidate venturing so boldly upon this treacherous ground. It seems unwise for Cllr Mills to highlight the persistence of social problems in London Colney when her own Labour Government has enjoyed 11 years of uninterrupted power.

D.S. MALKINSON,

Allandale, St Albans.

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