Until yesterday my respect for the Office for National Statistics was huge. It is, most hacks thought, one of those institutions that gives you faith in Britain.
The folk who work there are diligent and impartial. They do research and then present facts. If they have strong political opinions, you wouldn’t know.
Yesterday something a bit curious happened. And I wonder if it shall be taken to task.
The release announcing a record rise in jobless claims came out late. Economics hacks say the ONS always buries the really interesting stuff but think yesterday was particularly obfuscatory.
The BBC seemed to be taken in, referring to the figures as a “damp squib”.
As m’learned colleague Russ Lynch at The Telegraph pointed out, they were hardly that.
The ONS release dropped moments after the details of the post-Brexit tariff regime were published. Maybe this was a coincidence.
But my equally learned colleague Ian King of Sky tweeted that it looked like “a cynical piece of attempted news management”.
In yesterday’s missive, TB asked business leaders to step up, to restore confidence.
Part of consumer and business confidence comes from the idea that our government and its various offshoots are being straight with us and will be caught out if they are not.
It’s a fragile thing.