Politics

Chilcot, part 2: How Tony Blair fumbled Iraq's child mortality statistics

At a dramatic moment in Tony Blair’s testimony before the Iraq Inquiry back in 2010, Sir John Chilcot asked him if the invasion of Iraq had been good for the Iraqi people. Blair responded in the affirmative – and his main argument was that the invasion had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqi children who would otherwise have perished at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime.

Chilcot on Iraq's civilian casualties

The chapter on civilian casualties in the Chilcot report is stuffed with interesting material to the point that I don’t know where to begin. So I guess I’ll make a somewhat random choice and start with the internal UK discussion on whether or not to compile and release data on civilian casualties in the Iraq war.

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EU referendum – how the polls got it wrong again

Estimating the likely outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU was always going to be a challenge for the opinion polls. In a general election they have years of experience as to what does and does not work on which to draw when estimating the level of support for the various political parties. They still make mistakes, as was evident last year, but at least they can learn from them. In a one-off referendum they have no previous experience on which to draw — and there is certainly no guarantee that what has worked in a general election will prove effective in what is a very different kind of contest.

The EU referendum - one week to go: extracting insights from Facebook using R

A referendum is being held on 23 June to provide an answer to the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”.1 Registered British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with some others, are able to vote. The main groups campaigning for the UK to remain in or leave the EU are called, respectively, Britain Stronger in Europe2 and Vote Leave.3 Both these groups are making extensive use of social media to pursue their campaigns, including Facebook.4 Their respective Facebook pages are here and here.

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Forecast error: European referenda, past and present

Should we stay or should we go? That is the question being put to voters on 23 June as the UK holds a referendum on its membership of the European Union. It is an important decision: voting to leave will bring about important changes to the economies of both the UK and the EU. Those in favour of ‘Brexit’ believe the outcome will be positive in the long term; those against fear the effects on whatever timescale.