Express & Star

Labour MPs in "remarkable" maths fail

Labour MPs – including a shadow education minister – have been accused of getting their numbers wrong again, after failing to get to grips with basic percentages.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood

Tracy Brabin, who starred in Coronation Street and EastEnders before entering politics, challenged Dudley South Tory MP Mike Wood over his claim that a higher percentage of children were now educated in top performing schools than there were under Labour.

Mr Wood said the figure had risen from 66 per cent to 87 per cent under the Tories, which Ms Brabin and fellow Labour MP Mike Kane said was down to the fact that there were now "more children".

The embarrassing gaffe came during a bizarre exchange in the Commons that also saw another Labour MP, George Howarth, wrongly accuse Mr Wood of using the term "pillock" in reference to Labour's front bench team.

Mr Wood addressed MPs during the debate on the confidence motion in Theresa May's Government.

After he had cited the schools figures, Wythenshawe and Sale East MP Mr Kane cried out: "There are more children!"

Then Ms Brabin, the shadow minister for early years and MP for Batley and Spen, asked Mr Wood: "Does he agree that there are more children in good and outstanding schools because there are more children?"

Mr Wood, a former policy advisor in the European Parliament, said: "I hesitate to explain basic mathematics. A rise from 66 per cent to 87 per cent of a bigger number is even more of an increase."

He went on to call Labour's front bench a "paleo-Marxist Citizen Smith tribute act", which was somehow misheard as "pillock" by Mr Howarth, who asked Speaker John Bercow to rule on whether the term was "unparliamentary".

"I do not think that that word was used," a baffled looking Mr Bercow replied.

After the debate Mr Wood told the Express & Star: "It amuses – and frightens – me that if the confidence motion had passed, Tracy Brabin would have been a Minister in the Department for Education.

"It is remarkable that in an intervention and a point of order from Labour MPs, one didn't understand maths and the other didn't understand English."

Labour MPs have form when it comes to mathematics mess-ups.

In 2017 shadow home secretary Diane Abbott's number skills were called into question after a miscalculation prompted her to suggest that 10,000 new police officers would be paid just £30 each per year.

She also referred to Britain's emergency services number as "nine-nine" during a speech at last year's Labour conference.