Tag Archives: evening standard

Jo Swinson on shared parental leave: “It means mums might go back to work earlier and dads might get to spend more time with their children”

swinson and hamesThere was an in-depth interview with Jo Swinson, Lib Dem business minister, in Tuesday’s London Evening Standard – her first interview since returning from maternity leave, having given birth. You can read the full feature here, but snippets below…

Jo Swinson on her (and Duncan Hames’) baby being the first carried through the voting lobby of the Commons:

“Given that we’re still voting until 10pm on a Monday, that makes our lives slightly easier. It saves you having to leave the baby with a stranger.” Is Swinson pleased it was a male MP who was the first to do this? “Yes. Having a baby has an impact on dads too — and people don’t always recognise that.”

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – I’m the daddy

The London Evening Standard carries a feature interview with Nick Clegg, focusing on his and Miriam’s home life and its influence on his political views — here’s some excerpts:

His startling lack of machismo is mirrored in his policies: he wants more time for dads at home, more time for women to chase high-flying careers. From 2015, parents can share up to one year of “parental leave” after the birth of a child. They can take time off together, take it in turns, or

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Newspaper headlines, the Evening Standard way

Story:

Lord Judge said … “The problem therefore is not the internet”

Headline:

Judge: Internet threatens justice

(From Thursday’s Evening Standard, page 7)

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LibLink: Nick Clegg… AV got the Mayor elected – now he’s voting against it

Nick Clegg wrote an article for the Evening Standard yesterday aimed at London voters, who’ll only be voting in the AV referendum on May 5th as London does not have council elections* this year.

As well as outlining the reasons for voting Yes to Fairer Votes, “I believe most Londoners want a new way of electing MPs that cleans up politics, makes MPs work harder and makes every vote count,” Nick busts the myths about AV: “vote-counting machines that don’t exist and won’t be needed. Claims that the alternative vote is too complex for the British people to understand, as …

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – My vision for a new political map and voting system

Acting Prime Minister… are we allowed to call him that? No, okay then: Holding the Fort Prime Minister Nick Clegg has an article in today’s London Evening Standard setting out how he thinks the way in which people vote can be improved by the next general election, in 2015.

He looks at three issues. First, Nick notes the current unfairness that unequal constituency sizes mean that the votes of 87,000 voters in the East Ham constituency are worth less than the 66,000 voters living 10 miles away in Islington North: “So, if you live in Islington, your voice counts for more.” …

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Conservative MP Jacqui Lait loses libel hearing over expenses

The Evening Standard reports:

The Evening Standard has won a significant victory in a High Court libel battle brought by a Conservative MP.

Jacqui Lait, MP for Beckenham, had sued over an article headlined “Women MPs will be put off by Kelly reforms”.

Mr Justice Eady today struck out elements of her claim and ordered her to pay £10,400 legal costs.

The November 2009 article correctly pointed out Ms Lait had claimed “large sums” to travel to her family home in Sussex even though her constituency home is only 11 miles from Westminster…

The judge said it was “unreal to suggest that readers of

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Well done, Evening Standard

A quick update to my post which pointed out how the media had comprehensively misreported findings about how many people are registered to vote, painting an unduly pessimistic picture. The Evening Standard at least has now corrected its report.

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Electoral registration: is the problem with young people or with journalism?

Earlier this week the Electoral Commission published a new report, The completeness and accuracy of electoral registers in Great Britain, looking at how electoral registration is working in the UK.

Although it’s been widely covered, the coverage has been very similar – taking the top line figures from the report and covering press release without digging in to what the report really says. So if we venture in to the inner reaches of the report, what do we find?

The report is a very welcome piece of path-breaking research, based on in-depth local studies. Given the importance of registration, and the number of policy and organisational options available to politicians and council officials, gathering this sort of information is extremely useful.

An interim report was published in December (which we covered here) and this final report updates that with more evidence collected.

The use of in-depth local studies is a good move, but it immediately raises a caution about the quoting of figures as if they apply to the country as a whole. The report itself says, “the findings cannot be used to report on national rates of completeness and accuracy.”

However, the report went on to say, “Under-registration and inaccuracy are closely associated with the social groups most likely to move home. Across the seven case study areas in phase two (therefore excluding Knowsley), under-registration is notably higher than average among 17–24 year olds (56% not registered), private sector tenants (49%) and black and minority ethnic (BME) British residents (31%).”

As a result, the 56% has been widely quoted in the media as if it were a national figure, despite the report explicitly saying it isn’t. Take the BBC (“the Electoral Commission has released results that suggests 56% of 17 to 24-year-olds may not be registered to vote”) or the Evening Standard (“The Electoral Commission says that just 56 per cent of young people are registered to vote”). You wouldn’t guess from either of those that “the findings cannot be used to report on national rates”.

What’s more, despite the implicit negative tone of the media’s coverage, the report actually suggests there is good news on electoral registration overall with a long-term decline halted:

Evidence available from electoral statistics and surveys of levels of response to the annual canvass of electors suggests that there was a decline in registration levels from the late 1990s to 2006. The same evidence base suggests that the registers have stabilised since 2006 although it is likely that the completeness of the registers has declined since the last national estimate in 2000.

In addition, the return rate for electoral registration forms across the country, which dropped sharply in 1996-2003 and then declined a little further in 2004 has quickened its recovery: 2007 was up on 2004 and 2008 was up on 2007 by a larger margin. Though the figures are still below the 1996 ones, the trend is heading in the right direction and the figures are higher than in 2005.

Moreover, the figures in the report are based on data taken at one of the worst points in the year for electoral register accuracy.

There is a full update to the electoral register each year, with a new register published on 1 December. It then steadily deteriorates in accuracy through the next year. The register can get updated through the monthly rolling register updates, but people usually leave it until the full register is redone to update their records. If a general election is called, they can however then update their records and still get a vote at their new address.

Therefore, it is normal to see registration levels drop through the year and it isn’t necessarily a cause of worry. By doing their studies on very old registers (eight to ten months old in all the cases used to get the 56% figure and other similar ones), the Commission (and to be fair, they know this and the report makes it clear – if you get to page 16) produced figures which are much lower than if the evidence had been gathered on a new register. Depressing the figures further, the research was done when there was no election in the offing and so people did not have any particular incentive to use rolling registration to update their records.

In other words, the registration figures found are much lower than we’d expect either on a new register or for a general election.

What’s more, the reason for low levels of registration amongst young people in the local studies may have little to do with levels of interest in politics but more to do with mobility:

92% of people who have lived at their current address for five years or more are registered, compared to just 21% among those who have been at their present address for a year or less.

So is it registration or journalism we should be worried about?

One other thing this report tells us is something about the how journalism is works – or doesn’t work. It’s easy to sympathise with hard-pressed journalist taking story and data from reputable source and turning it into story without much questioning. But the data isn’t nearly as uncontroversial as the uniformity of media stories would suggest.

Are the figures for youth registration bad because they’re low, okay because of the time of year they were taken or good because a long-term decline has been halted? You can argue any of the three – and were these figures a matter of political controversy, we’d have had talking heads and quotes arguing the case on each side.

But because there isn’t a National Association for Electoral Registration and Turnout Optimists and there is no argument between the political parties on the statistics, the figures don’t get an external sceptical eye cast over them. Add to this the Electoral Commission’s need to emphasise the importance of people getting registered, which provides an incentive to stress the pessimistic in its figures, and we get just the bad news reported. The good news doesn’t get a look in.

The full report is below and if you need any help to register yourself, visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or call the Electoral Commission helpline on 0800 3280 280.

(UPDATE: The Evening Standard, one of the media outlets to get the figures wrong, has now corrected its report.)

Electoral Commission Report on Electoral Registration

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Girls in crisis? Hold on a minute.

…it is becoming increasingly clear that teenage girls are a stand-alone demographic in crisis

So says a report in Sunday’s Observer, looking at the pressures faced by teenage girls and the effects it has on their lives, and it’s far from alone.

As Mark Pack reported here on Sunday, the Evening Standard and Telegraph both reported on concerns of girls becoming sexualised at ever younger ages.

Just hold on a moment, though.

Yes, teenage girls have problems. And it may well be that there are specific measures the State can take to reduce those problems, such as the regulation …

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This is why the Editors’ Code of Practice needs reforming

It’s a small, but telling example.

The Evening Standard ran a piece from Simon Jenkins, which included a bit of myth-recycling about what the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health had said about people clearing snow from outside their property.

There were two problems.

First, either Simon Jenkins or a sub-ed dropped the word “probably” making the quote sound far more definitive that in the original version reported in other newspapers. (I suspect it was no innocent error because there was also a similar distortion of what Lord Davies said in Parliament.)

Second, the quote was – even in the full version – wrong. …

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PR in an online world: Boris Johnson’s team at work

There was an interesting little example last week of how the Conservatives are trying to use blogs to set the tone of news reporting, courtesy of Boris Johnson and a report into his behaviour.

The report, into Boris Johnson’s behaviour over the Damian Green affair, makes major criticisms of his behaviour but falls short of saying that he broke any rules. So the battle for good publicity came down to whether the report would be seen as ‘Boris cleared because he didn’t breach the rules’ or ‘Boris criticised for bad judgement and poor choices’. The Conservatives tried to make use of bloggers to pitch for the first, but in the end failed because the mainstream media coverage was far more balanced.

As Tory Troll points out, Boris Johnson got his retaliation in first with a statement welcoming the outcome of the inquiry, emphasising the part about him being cleared of any breach of the rules and glossing over the criticisms of his behaviour in the report, such as the conclusions that his acts:

  • Were “extraordinary and unwise” (paragraph 8.20)
  • Might “inhibit full and free discussion” of high profile cases “between the chief officer of police and a police authority chairman” (6.33)
  • “Placed him at risk of being called as a witness by either the CPS or defence in any criminal prosecution of Mr Green, to the potential detriment of his office as Chairman of the MPA” (8.21)
  • Risked being “perceived as furthering private interests” (8.21)

The Boris Johnson version of events was echoed across a range of friendly-blogs, all of whom ran similar stories: Iain Dale (“Boris is in the clear“), ConservativeHome (“Boris Johnson cleared of wrongdoing over Greengate“) and Conservative GLA member James Cleverly (“Boris in the clear“).

Iain’s piece quotes paragraph 11.1 of the report, but has no reference to the critical parts (his reasoning being, “I quoted that because it was the main conclusion of the report. Surely in these matters, that’s what counts. I don’t deny there were critical comments, and Boris addressed those in his own response”), Jonathan Isaby on ConservativeHome has a smiling picture of Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up, but no mention of the other aspects of the report, and James Cleverly’s piece is similarly glowing.

However, the efforts of Boris Johnson’s team seem to have been largely in vain, because the mainstream media coverage was far better, and in another warning to Boris Johnson about how he may find the Evening Standard a far more hostile paper now that its owner and editor have changed, the Evening Standard headlined its report:

Boris rebuked for his ‘unwise’ contact with Green during inquiry

Similarly, the BBC reported:

Boris Johnson’s role in the Damian Green affair was “extraordinary and unwise” but did not amount to an abuse of office, a new report has found.

Background

This extract summarises the nuances of the report’s findings:

Posted in London and Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Boris Johnson and the Evening Standard: it’s amazing what a change of editor can do

I’ve been doing a bit of number crunching. In the three weeks before the departure of editor Veronica Wadley from the Evening Standard the paper’s stories about Boris Johnson broke down as 61% positive, 27% neutral and 12% negative.

And in the three weeks after her departure? They were 43% positive (down 18%), 22% neutral (down 5%) and 35% negative (up 23%).

Isn’t it amazing what a change of editor can do?

P.S. Dave Hill reports that further staff changes are being made at the Standard.

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Clegg leadership donor is new key player at London Evening Standard

With a big tip of the hat to the Guido Fawkes’ blog, there is an intriguing Lib Dem connection to the new owner of the Evening Standard, ex-KGB officer Alexander Lebedev: that Justin Byam Shaw, a Lib Dem member who donated money to Nick Clegg’s leadership campaign, is to become its deputy chairman.

A later update confirms the story:

Nick Clegg’s office have been in touch to say Justin Byam Shaw gave £3,000 to Clegg’s leadership campaign and it is on the Electoral Register.

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  • User Avatarcrewegwyn 21st Dec - 6:37pm
    simon, Have you actually read even the summary of the report?
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 21st Dec - 6:36pm
    Hireton, have you actually read the Smith Commission report? If you had you would see that Scots will have a whole load more control over...
  • User AvatarRichard 21st Dec - 5:38pm
    Good universities have always been international. Non-EU students contribute at least £7bn to our balance of payments. Unemployment is coming down rapidly and skills shortages...
  • User AvatarHireton 21st Dec - 5:24pm
    A very strange article. Firstly the Lib Dems bottled their chance to advance their alleged commitment to Home Rule in the Smith Commission so we...
  • User AvatarJimbob 21st Dec - 5:16pm
    There is an absolutely huge space for standing up for a strong economy, fairness, human rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately the party has stood for...
  • User AvatarMartin 21st Dec - 5:14pm
    It was always clear that the threat of a referendum on the EU has the potential to initiate a further Scottish independence vote. If the...