Owen Jones in “The Establishment” quotes one powerful statistic to exemplify the incestuous nature of Britain’s elite, so good that since the book’s release it has gone viral. Jones claims a 2012 study shows 92% of the top 50 publicly traded firms in the UK have a British parliamentarian as a director or shareholder. It is a ‘fact’ he repeated in an article for Channel 4 News, and during his speech to the LSE this week:
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It also turns out to be a big fat blooper. Jones sources the stat to a Democratic Audit report (page 290), but as internet sleuth Jeremy Duns points out, there are two glaring problems with this:
Here's where he got it from. See if you can spot the problems (there are two): pic.twitter.com/i0xwdERCQO
— Jeremy Duns (@jeremyduns) October 16, 2014
First, Jones’ source references the stat to a 2006 study, so the figure is from considerably earlier than Jones writes in his book. More importantly, Jones’ source actually says “46 per cent of the top 50 publicly traded firms had a British MP as a director or shareholder”. Not 92% but 46%, half of what Jones claims. OJ now says it was a typo:
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) October 16, 2014
Except it hasn’t been corrected, the 92% figure is still there if you download the e-book this morning. And if Jones is telling the truth when he says he knows it is wrong and has been corrected, why did he repeat the incorrect stat to the LSE just three days ago? Jones is now blaming his publisher for the error, but his publisher didn’t give the LSE speech. Could it be that it just doesn’t suit his overinflated conspiratorial narrative?