May 2nd, 2013

Guardian Uses Word “Scrounger” More Than Any Other Paper

Seemingly the entire left-wing twitterati have been up in arms this week over analysis carried via LexisNexis showing that use of the word “scrounger” has rocketed in the British media since 2010. You might, if you subscribe to the Owen Jones thesis that there is a right-wing agenda cooked up in CCHQ to demonise “scroungers”, have expected it to appear more in the likes of the Mail or the Express than the ‘progressive’ metropolitan liberal press. The demonising is in reality coming from Owen Jones, who is relentless in trying to describe any reasonable attempt to reform welfare as an attack on the poor – he is desperate for a Cabinet Minister to use the term “scrounger” so that he can say to the 53% of the population that receives a welfare payment of some kind – including pensioners, war widows and the chronically disabled – that the government thinks you are scroungers. Not so. Guido has been crunching the numbers, and it turns out it is none other than the Guardian that uses the word most, followed by the Indy, where Owen has a column.

After carrying out a simple search of the word “scrounger” on each newspaper website for the period 2010 to date, the figures show that the Guardian used the word in 736 articles over the last three years. In second place is Owen Jones’ Indy, who – as he might say – “demonised the poor” 185 times over the period. Much further down come the right-wing tabloids: 76 for the Mail and 20 for the Express. Owen knows there is no public sympathy for people who abuse the welfare state, he also knows that the majority of the population, thanks to Gordon Brown, receives a welfare payment of some kind. Owen dogmatically refuses to countenance any welfare cut of any kind, that is why he is trying to encourage the likes of mothers who receive child benefit and deserving pensioners to align with those who are rightly losing benefits – fit people of working age who turn down jobs for example – he wants them to believe that welfare reformers think they are “scroungers”That is why Owen and the unpopular progressive sections of the media use the emotive term more than anyone on the welfare-reforming right…

Methodology: Because neither Google or LexisNexis include all paywalled sites in their analysis, Guido used each newspaper website’s own internal search engine to determine in how many articles the word “scrounger” appeared between 2010 and today. The respective Sunday editions of the titles were included with the daily for the purposes of this research.


  1. 1
    Selohesra says:

    Ah but the Guardian sells virtually no copies whereas the Sun sells loads – so in total the Sun is the worst offender. Perhaps a second bar chart is in order

  2. 2
    Anonymous says:

    3 years. perfectly fine.

  3. 3
    30 seconds of content, 25 minutes of comments says:

    I think you have actually discovered which paper has the most search-able content. Good spin though.

  4. 4

    No, LexisNexis backed it up as well. Try it yourself.

  5. 5
    Scrounger-in-chief says:

    I get the winter fuel payment, and I have a free bus pass (never used) and an old git’s train card. My wife gets the old age pension. How much does Abu Qatada get (including his house)?

  6. 6
    a tax farmer says:

    does it use the word ‘scrounger’ in its agricultural columns?

  7. 7
    jimbooo says:

    Good post guido, exposing the moronic agenda that Jones has. Brown did it deliberately using nonsense like tax credits instead of just cutting tax to try to make sure everyone would be “receiving” money from the state and would forever vote labour as they were gradually replaced by immigrants.

    Today I voted UKIP. Felt good knowing how it would piss off the likes of Owen Jones.

  8. 8
    Raving Loon says:

    I don’t understand how it’s possible for a healthy person of working age who has been offered a job can receive welfare. What exactly are we paying for?

  9. 9
    Tosspot says:

    Would be interesting to see how many times the words ” Nazi and Communist ” have been used as they are both as repugnant as the other.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Timmytour says:

    Isn’t the Sun read mainly by the people Owen Jones claims to be defending? Why don’t they read the Guardian instead… it because the Guardian prices itself out of the range of “the poor”?

  12. 12

    They scrounge around for food, all the while dreading the approaching darkness. Job 15:23

    So the biggest ever selling book, the Holy Bible, is thus the worst culprit.

  13. 13



  14. 14
    The Highway Code says:

    you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic

  15. 15
    young Shep says:

    The FT s total is far more more telling, only 4 mentions in three years, trying to keep a secret?.

  16. 16
    Gordon the Medicated says:

    Thanks to my ‘reforms’ we are all scroungers now.

    I saved the world.

  17. 17
    Lady Ding Dong says:

    I cannot say this often enough or without the utmost sincerity……Owen Jones is a Hunt.

  18. 18
    Universal Hiss says:

    but you would expect the lefties to use the s word more as they write article after article about people who use the s word.

  19. 19
    Jackie Dromey says:

    Oh, so she’ll be out the house tonight will she?
    Brilliant! I’ll have some beers, watch American Pie 4 and have a couple of wanks.

  20. 20
    young Shep says:

    Is that DVLC advice on controlling road rage?.

  21. 21
    Anonymous says:

    It won’t sink in, I’m sure its readers will use their “Guardian Goggles” to tell them what to think.

  22. 22
    Ron Barras says:

    They use the posh term like “subsidy” or “bail out”.

    Good work Guido.

  23. 23
    Owen Jones says:

    You have voted for a far-right neo-nazi-neo-con-American influenced, anti-fwuffy wiberal party.

    You are a monster and are causing the decay of the welfare class.

  24. 24
    Sylvio from Milan says:

    Metropolitan police officers flying out to Sidney because of Rolf Harris to interview a lady .

    Is this a form of scrounging?

  25. 25
    Contextualiser says:

    Some examples of Guardian using the word “scrounger”:

    “Does the reform tie in with the government’s “strivers and scroungers” rhetoric?”

    “tended to contradict the scrounger stereoptype”

    “Dismissing the language of “scroungers and skivers” used by some on the right”

    “we’re so encouraged by the press and the government to see people who claim benefits as feckless scroungers”

    “Disabled people are not scroungers”

    But yeah, why let context slow the spin?

  26. 26
    CIF is sense says:

    Fatcher caused global warming and lead poisoning in the middle ages

  27. 27
    Thec most un-read reading matter in the UK says:

    No one buys the guardian. They either read bits on line or pass the time in BBC reception or the teachers’ common room.

  28. 28
    Guy News Room says:

    Guido Fawkes has adjourned for a short break for a liquid lunch in The Westminster Arms. Available for interviews and end of day statement concerning Owen Jones to come later.

  29. 29
    My girlfriend is called Dolly the Sheep, a bit hairy but like them that way says:

    To Scrounge, defn. : Seek to obtain (something, typically food or money) at the expense or through the generosity of others or by stealth.

    Yep, sounds like our gobshite politicians. Spot on Guardian, What, moi? non non Monsieur!

  30. 30
    Pavlovs Dog says:

    But Guido, your fanbase loves to call benefit claimants ‘scroungers’. So is this OP an advert for a switch to the Graun?

    Anyhow, your results are not right..The Sun has 386 results for scrounger.

  31. 31
    Red Ed needs a nasal decongestant says:

    Oh noes he’s a wacist!

  32. 32
    CIF is sense says:

    Scroungers do it with their hands out..

  33. 33
    My girlfriend is called Dolly the Sheep, a bit hairy but like them that way says:

    Stop bashing the Bible Cat – at least it isn’t the Q u r a n……

  34. 34
    Paul North says:

    It’s an interesting idea for a blog post but your approach makes the resulting data useless, Guido.

    I’d recommend doing it again along these lines:

    Firstly, don’t use site search functions. They’ll all work differently so your results won’t be comparable. Instead, use a site crawler like Screaming Frog that will allow you to grab the contents of the entire site. Paywall sites, you’ll have to leave out, unfortunately.

    Next, use a ‘control’ word or two that you can compare ‘scrounger’ with in order to get context. Presumably, the frequency of some words like ‘the’ would be consistent across all sites, so you can understand the context of the use of the word ‘scrounger’ a little better.

    In showing the data, don’t show only frequency of use. Show a percentage. The larger the site, the more any word will appear so frequency isn’t a useful metric.

    Also, maybe compare with some other words so you can avoid accusations of having too much of an agenda and instead approaching this impartially.

    I’d be interested to see the results.

  35. 35
    Gideon's Bible says:

    So there’s not really any analysis of this information?

    It’s a pretty misleading article that’s devoid of any relevant information if you’ve not analysed (even in a cursory way) the content and sentiment of the results that crop up.

  36. 36
    My girlfriend is called Dolly the Sheep, a bit hairy but like them that way says:

    Also, wish people will remember the seven deadly sins at times, but I don’t mind a bit of fornicating now and then, in laybys you know, when her hubby is down the pub on darts night….. ;) Dogging I think it is called…

  37. 37

    The Guardian isn’t a real newspaper though, is it?
    Its like the Onion, surely?

    3/4 of UK families live below poverty line and government plans to tax bathrooms in new toilet tax and everyone UK firm has an offshore tax haven..including us, but we don’t use it very much, honest

    The Daily Mash or the Guardian? Who could tell the difference?

  38. 38
    Tosspot says:

    Should Cyclists be INSURED as other road users, by Law are required to be and should their Transport be subject to a regular Mechanical Examination… by Law, do Bikes even have to have Brakes, let alone be in working condition.

    There is no Medical standard for Bike Riders or required teaching for children.

    This whole situation is an appalling oversight which requires legislation.

    Get your teeth round that one, UKIP

  39. 39
    Pavlovs Dog says:

    Me comment below is not correct in relation to the sun. I stand corrected. After refining the search to 2010, you only get 30 or so results.

    It seems that the Sun prefers to use the word ‘Scrounger’ during a Labour government.

    ‘Sponger’ gets quite a few results, but is more random in the context of the content.

    Your graph looks fab.

  40. 40

    I didn’t write the fucking thing!

    Don’t shoot the messenger you Welsh git.

  41. 41
    Metrosexual police officer says:

    It’s a jolly – get it right sonny.

  42. 42
    Pavlovs Dog says:

    It is an anti-crime payment. Reduce it, see what happens.

  43. 43
    young Shep says:

    It has not escaped my notice that any excuse for a free all expenses paid holiday to the nicer parts of the world, Portuguese Algarve, the Bahamas, Sidney… Australia, etc seems to justify the re-opening of 10, 20, 30 year old cases. As Sherlock would have said: “elementary my dear Watson”.

  44. 44
    IP detector says:

    You must stop multiple name posting from the same computer.
    Future transgression will result in auto moderation removal.

  45. 45
    Greedy lying statist B'stards says:

    Cyclists should pay a road fund license, we can socially engineer their safety.
    “Tax good” nom nom nom

  46. 46

    ..And for the same reason the ‘Grimsby cesspit murders’ remain unsolved.

  47. 47
    Polly Pot says:

    The RICH should have an annual bicycle tax = to 50% of the cost of their bicycle to pay for the pooresthardworkingfamiliesinsociety

  48. 48
    Get it right says:

    No he fucking wouldn’t. That sentence doesn’t appear in the books.
    “Elementary” appears, as does “my dear Watson”, but not together.

  49. 49
    Truth said says:

    Owen Jones must be the biggest pratt born in modern times, every time he opens his mouth does nonsens spew.
    For correction I would like to add that the State Pension is not a benefit it is something paid in for by those that worked until retirement age which is far to low, as admitted by this and previous Governments otherwise if it was enough they would not have to give out a fuel allowance. I would also like to remind those who complain about the babyboomer pensioners that they worked and paid for NI stamps 44 years to receive it, now of couuse the youger generation stays in education until they are twenty something and only have to pay 30 years stamps, this is clearly unsustainable, increase thier contibutions by double !!

  50. 50
    Mick Fillpot the tosspot says:

    I refuse to subsidize those scrounging bastards, especially as my bike is also locked up.

  51. 51
    Polly Pot says:

    Sherlock, in the superb BBC re imagining of classic literature, uses it all the time.

  52. 52
    young Shep says:

    They all remain unsolved, but some unsolved ones turn out to better than others, nobodies going to turn out in Grimsby, evenin ‘all and mind how you go!.

  53. 53
    Ordinary voter says:

    Wot is you go’in on’ar’bowt?

  54. 54
    Polly Pot says:

    That free bus pass deprives a Somali couple from having a free car !
    I demand you surrender it at once! The fact you don’t use it is irrelevant apart from its total relevance.

  55. 55
    young Shep says:

    Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character, so who knows what he might or might not have said?, that is if he ever existed.

  56. 56
    Tay King-dePisse says:

    When is it used with inverted commas and when without, in every paper, is what I’d like to know.

    That would tell the tale a bit better, wouldn’t it? “Those scroungers…” vs “Those evil Tories, who call people ‘scroungers,’…”

    But then again, to report on libel is to reprint the libel, they say. Not that being called a scrounger is libel, a little thing called the defence of its being the truth coming into the frame.

  57. 57
    Owen pants says:

    Dont interrupt me when I’m talking about fascists tories talking about scroungers…I dont need any more facts than I already have.

  58. 58
    Hugh Denise says:

    You are quite correct. Once the government removes ‘pensions’ from the ‘welfare’ budget the 1% of the total welfare that is fraud, that Owen loves to quote, suddenly becomes more like 10-15%.

    Not such a great soundbite for the dependency champion.
    Especially as the real figures must be many, many more points higher.

  59. 59
    Beeboid says:

    “Guardian prices itself out of the range of the poor?”

    The poor have to pay for their own newspapers?
    You’re kidding!

    Surely the government could introduce a newspaper credit scheme so they get get their copy of the Gaurdian free at the point of delivery (like we do at the BBC).

  60. 60
    Helpful Herbert ^^^ says:

    The savings can pay for lots more prisons to be built?

  61. 61
    Old Blind Pugh says:

    From memory in the B’Liar-MacBroon era the Liebore government were themselves doing doing exactly what IDS (quietman) is doing now, it is common for a government when in difficulties and try to divert attention, attack the weakest in society, they also introduced a bunch of clowns to do “assessing” of claimants, they are the ones that started it rot. It is common knowledge that there are people lead swinging why on earth don’t they go after those, you know the ones that say they have a bad back but work on their cars, paint houses, do heavy garden work, those are the ones they should be going after.

  62. 62
    Enemy Combatant says:

    I agree. They should pay the zero emission vehicle rate. Of £0.

    BTW, it isn’t a road fund licence any more. In fact, it hasn’t been since 1936.

  63. 63
    I was Hitlers Ball boy says:

    Never mind Owen, you can always use your unsold books for firewood when the meeja get bored of you.

  64. 64
    I was Hitlers Ball boy says:

    Shouldn’t that be Scwoungers?

  65. 65
    Andrew says:

    Good work, but don’t say methodology when you mean method. They are not the same thing and the long word is pompous.

  66. 66
    Dr Nutjob says:

    What do expect from bunch of leeching socialist morons? They do more harm than good!

  67. 67
    Brown out & pay me damages. Respect my legal rights. says:

    Guardian? Don’t make me laugh! Sick of the socialist morons!

  68. 68
    Casual Observer says:

    Not surprised at result – but A+ work Guido / team.

    Most informative press analysis article ever.

    Owen Jones is soooo irrelevant. Anyone still watching the Boob’s Broadcasting Cartel these days ?

  69. 69
    Shooty* says:

    What exactly is the definition of “progressive” these days?

  70. 70
    Anonymous says:

    What translation is that? Must be a very modern one. Most English versions have ‘wander’.

  71. 71
    . says:

    I notice, Guido, that your ire is now directed at Owen Jones now rather than “Dolly”. after he has dropped out of public view. Its always nice to have a cause.

  72. 72
    Peter Replica says:

    Holmes pointed to the citrus fruit inserted into the fundament of the gamekeeper,” It’s a Lemon entry Watson”

  73. 73
    Incorrigible says:

    Err yeah cos the Guardian being available free online (unlike The Sun) is simply too expensive for the poor! Numpty

  74. 74
    Lady Ding Dong says:

    But this proves they don’t fuckwit, so what’s your point?

  75. 75
    78-year-old Peter Burkinshaw says:


  76. 76
    Sumit Rahman says:

    All good suggestions. Nice idea from Guido though!

  77. 77
    george says:

    who are you calling a fucking thing?

  78. 78
    george says:

    So the context shows the Guardian up as a lover of scroungers – you’ve made your point.

  79. 79
    IP detector says:

    I promise not to do it again

  80. 80
    q says:

    yes -loads of toryboys here swear by the veracity of Question Time and its representation of the UK population – of course it’s not a scientific analysis – but it is one made by braindead, thatcher loving idiots

  81. 81
    q says:

    i’m sorry but the toryboys don’t do abuse – they apparently are only arguing for what is self-evidently the Truth!!!! you can’t rationalise with a tory because they don’t have any brains

  82. 82
    2112 says:

    You erm, still have a few flecks of foam in the corner of your mouth.

  83. 83
    2112 says:

    Sorry to be a nuisance but those foam flecks still haven’t gone.

  84. 84

    There is a problem with your methodology. You have used the most simplistic content analysis and not looked at all at the meaning or context. i.e. what proportion of Guardian references to scrounger were actually questioning or criticising the demonisation of those claiming benefits of whatever kind as compared to say the Daily Mail. Not quite as clever as you think Guido.

  85. 85
    D Advocate says:

    The context shows the Guardian up as erecting straw man arguments to reinforce and perpetuate a populist mythology about the ‘evil right wing’ supposedly controlling this country.
    You’re welcome.

  86. 86
    Clown Shoes says:

    If the Mail write “Stop these immigrant scroungers” and the Sun write “Scroungers on benefits”, they’ve both used the word once.

    The Guardian then do a week long series of articles whining about the demonisation of the poor and quoting the Mail and the Sun as examples and they end up using the word more often.

    That’s what Hiss is saying and if you look at the Guardian’s website (don’t, it’s wank) you’ll see that for every time “scrounger” get’s used in the right wing press, you see 3-4 articles on it pop up on the Guardian. Their stock-in-trade is knee-jerk moral outrage, but they just jerk the left knee instead of the right like the Mail.

  87. 87
    2112 says:

    But if the word “scrounger” appears (considerably) less in the Mail, Sun, etc. than it does in the Guardian, then that suggests that the Guardian is hung up on a supposed demonisation that isn’t happening as much as the Guardian would have us believe.

  88. 88
    nimh2 says:

    But a Factiva search apparently yields different results, with the Daily Star and the Sun on top:

Media Reader

Page 3 and the Art of the Self-Pity Statement | Guardian
Here is What a 7 Way Debate Sounds Like | BBC
Poll: Sun Readers Want Page 3 to Stay | Business Insider
The Sun: An Apology | Press Gazette
More Women Prosecuted For Telly Tax | Mail
Je Suis Page 3 | Toby Young
Page 3 Website Enjoys Huge Surge in Traffic | Media Guardian
No One Was Ever Forced to Read Page 3 | Will Walter
Why is Roy Greenslade Doing Labour’s Dirty Work? | Peter Oborne
Today’s Actual Sun Page 3 | Media Guido
Has the Sun Scrapped Page 3? | Guardian

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