Evidence and policy making

The Mainly Macro blog author makes an interesting comment about policy making in the context of the labour party leadership contest.

I think most people imagine politicians outside government as having at their disposal a huge network of assistants, each of which is plugged into a huge network of advice coming from individuals and think tanks. There is certainly a huge amount of advice out there, but you need some knowledge to filter good from bad, research based ideas from ideological ones etc. And that is the problem: there is no army of experienced assistants doing that job. Politicians instead often have to rely on a few (generally political) contacts and perhaps one or two inexperienced assistants.

It is therefore just inevitable that in something like a party leadership election you might see some poorly thought out policies. Politicians, or those that advise them, will not have the time or resources to filter and consult.


But the awful reality is that most commentators and opinion formers operate in the same way. How often do we see reports where the author has mixed in several different facts, conflated various issues, excluded certain salient points, slopped on a large dollop of assertions and then made some policy statements. It happens all the time and it is not limited to tabloid newspapers but in the ‘quality’ newsheets such as the ‘Guardian’.


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