Tag Archives: peter riddell

In Defence of Politicians: Peter Riddell’s new book

For decades Peter Riddell has been one of the best British political commentators, regularly providing his readers with insight rather than, as is the way with second-rate commentators, simply leaving the reader little more enlightened at the end of a piece that knowing that, yes, that commentator’s own political views are the same as they were last time.

So his book, In Defence of Politicians Inspite of Themselves, has many years of experience and analysis behind it. It originated in a lecture he gave on the same theme in February 2010 and reads like an extended version of the lecture. …

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So you want to be a political journalist?

A sister title to Shane Greer’s So you want to be a politician?, Sheila Gunn’s So you want to be a political journalist? is a collection of thrity-two lively short chapters giving an insight into the life of a political journalist.

With an impressive cast of contributors, including Peter Riddell, Carolyn Quinn and Michael White, the book has plenty of insider information, presented usually in the style of lively anecdotal chats. This is not a tedious career advice book nor a studious academic tone but rather something that gives a flavour of what it is like to be a political journalist and how to get there.

MP Adam Holloway’s contribution is the one that turns sour on political journalism, explaining how he became so disillusioned with coverage of himself that he not only ceased writing a column for the local newspaper but also stopped sending out local news releases.

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A polite round of applause directed towards The Times

I wasn’t expecting that.

The Times has reported its latest opinion poll. It has reported the changes in party share of the vote.

And then Peter Riddell has said,

These shifts are within the margin of error

Why’s that impressive? Because nearly every opinion poll only shows changes within the margin of error (you’ve usually got to look over a wider pattern to see statistically significant changes), but that doesn’t stop newspapers writing up their stories as if the changes in support are significant and therefore ones we can be sure actually happened.

It’s as if the newspapers think, “Look, we know the poll doesn’t …

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Riddell me Clegg

The most recent issue of Liberator magazine mentioned the comments made recently by a senior Lib Dem MP that he felt the party suffered from a ‘Peter Riddell problem’ – that the Lib Dem leadership appears at times desperate to earn the praise of The Times’s senior political commentator, and arch civil servant manque, as a ‘government in waiting’. And in the process the party loses its radical edge and drops its most popular policies.

It’s interesting, then, to read today’s analysis by Mr Riddell of Nick Clegg’s leadership and Lib Dem fortunes ahead of the party’s spring …

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YouGov’s polling panels: an interesting snippet from Peter Riddell

At tonight’s launch of a Microsoft/Hansard Society report into MPs’ use of the internet, The Times’s Peter Riddell revealed an interesting snippet of information about YouGov’s panel for its political polls might be: YouGov decided it couldn’t do any polls during the Glasgow East by-election because it had only around 100 panel members in the constituency, and they were overwhelmingly public sector workers – i.e. a very atypical cross-section.

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