Labour's magnificent tangle

There will be a lot of attention given to Andrew Little's tantrum today, and for good reason. Among other things, it will lead many to ask (long simmering) questions of his temperament, as well as perhaps more generally his suitability to the job he seeks.  But the more interesting issue to me is what he got about so upset about, namely Patrick Gower's claim that the property data released by Phil Twyford eleven days ago was "cooked".  

Little was beyond outraged that anyone would dare suggest it was cooked data, hence the dummy-spit.  Is he really of the view that the data is reliable? How could that be?

Let's review what isn't cooked.

It is true that a greater proportion of people with Chinese sounding names bought houses through Barfoot and Thompson during the time period in question than the proportion of people with Chinese sounding names living in Auckland. Whatever we think of the methods Labour employed, we can agree the data says that. 

But that is all it says. 

To infer foreign ownership rates from that very limited dataset is the very definition of cooking data. 

To align that data with suggestions that Chinese home buyers are contributing to a massive economic problem that prevents anyone else from buying a home...a stupendous data barbecue.

If the extent of their defence is that "those names definitely sound Chinese to me!", then they have an argument.  Any assertion beyond that is pure cookery.  

Oh, and by the way, Patrick Gower's question of Little – "we have spoken to people on your list; have you? – was not only well in bounds; it was an excellent and important one.