Radstats activism in history

The Radical Health Statistics Group produced a pamphlet on health and personal social services statistics in 1976 and gave evidence to the Royal commission on the NHS in 1977. The Health Groups later publication include An Unofficial Guide to Health Statistics, 1980. Unsafe in their hands: health service statistics for England, 1985. Facing the Figures: What is really happening to the National Health Service, 1987. A new version of the 1980 pamphlet under the title Official Health Statistics: An Unofficial Guide was published later in 2000 (see MacFarlane, 1999).

Many Radstats members contributed to the book Demystifying Social Statistics (Irvine, John, Ian Miles and Jeff Evans (eds) 1979). The Demystifying Social Statistics book has become a landmark study in explaining the ways in which statistics and statistical method are socially constructed. The 1998 book Statistics and Society edited by Danny Dorling and Ludi Simpson follows similarly broad themes and appeared on many Higher Education reading lists.

The Radical Statistics Race Group published Britain’s Black Population in 1980  with the Runnymede Trust. There was a second edition in 1988.

Criticisms of the government’s use of statistics in publications by members of Radstats in the 1980s inspired the 1989 Channel 4 TV Programme Cooking the Books.

The Cooking the Books Programme was a key event leading to debates in the Royal Statistical Society on the integrity of official statistics. These debates helped to spur the Labour Party to pledge to establish an independent statistical service as part of its 1997 election manifesto, leading to the establishment of a Statistics Commission in 2000.

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