July 29th, 2013

Rawnsley’s Rehashed ‘Research’ Rumbled

Catching up with Andrew Rawnsley’s “award winning” column yesterday, Guido could not help think he had read the same points being made, with all the same examples and the same anecdotes, somewhere before. Rawnsley tackles the great North/South divide debate with a remarkable similarity to Jeremy Cliffe, the Economist’s UK politics correspondent, who wrote extensively on the issue in April. Cliffe’s two pieces are online here and here.

Guido first smelt a rat at the mention of Alastair Campbell, who Rawnsley writes “secured his two, even more whopping landslides in 1997 and 2001 by winning for Labour in places that had been previously thought unreachable. On the night of his first victory, he thought his staff were pulling his leg when they reported that Labour had won St Albans.” Something Economist readers would know from April, minus the insider anecdote.

“Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s spin doctor, recalls the party’s astonishment at the results: “seats were falling that we would never have imagined standing a hope in hell of winning.” The greatest swing was in the south-east and eastern regions, where Labour won 44 constituencies, including such leafy, middle-class suburbs as St Albans (now comfortably Tory once more).”

A coincidence, surely? So Guido started compare the rest of Rawnsley’s column to the Economist pieces, and it does not look good. See if you can spot the differences here:

Economist:

“Of the 158 seats that make up the three northern English regions, only 43 are Conservative [...] Of the 197 MPs representing the English south beyond the capital, just ten are now Labour. The Tories hold only two seats in the north-east and one in Scotland.”

Rawnsley:

“Of the 158 seats in the three northern English regions, only 43 have a Conservative MP. The Tories hold just two seats in the north-east and have only one MP in the whole of Scotland. [...] Under a line drawn from the Wash to the Bristol Channel, there are 197 seats outside London. Just 10 of those seats are represented by a Labour MP.”

Lifting statistics from the Economist is one thing, but what about whole chunks of analysis?

Economist:

“well-off people in the north are more likely to vote Labour than the poor are in the south [...] northerners from the highest social class are more likely to vote Labour than are southerners from the lowest social class.”

Rawnsley:

“Well-heeled parts of the north are these days much more likely to vote Labour than their counterparts in the south. [...] Affluent northerners (the As and Bs of pollsters’ jargon) are more likely to vote Labour than poorer southerners (the Ds and the Es).”

Economist:

““LET’S all do the conga, Maggie is no longer,” sang fans of Liverpool Football Club during their trip to Reading, in southern England, on April 13th. It was as revealing as any opinion poll. [...] Polls following Lady Thatcher’s death revealed a country similarly divided over the merits of her grand funeral. [...] Mrs Thatcher did indeed oversee a collapse of northern manufacturing (though that process neither began nor ended with her), as well as a financial-services boom that was mostly felt in the south-east.”

Rawnsley:

“It is still suffering from the shadow of Mrs Thatcher, which none of her successors has dispelled. As we saw in some of the responses to her death, in much of the north she stands for savage deindustrialisation, impoverishment and southern disdain. She triggered a boom in the City and another in the services sector, the fruits of which were mostly enjoyed by the south.”

Economist:

“Under the 1997-2010 Labour government the economy grew more slowly in the north—and, partly as a result, the state accounted, directly and indirectly, for a larger share of jobs created there. [...] When Labour increased public spending in the north it strengthened its position there. When the Conservative-led coalition began to cut public-sector jobs they strengthened Labour’s position there, too. (The same may yet prove true of cuts in benefits, which are a larger part of incomes in the region.)”

Rawnsley:

“Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the economy still grew more slowly in the north, but it received proportionately more of the increases in public spending. Now austerity has fallen most harshly on the north, where more jobs are reliant on the public sector and a higher proportion of the population is drawing benefits.”

Oh look, if you change the county, nobody will notice:

Economist:

“And regional success and failure are self-reinforcing. A bright young thing in Kent who wants to go into politics has two good options: join the Conservative Party, or leave Kent.”

Rawnsley:

“The divide has become self-fuelling. [...] A Labourite in Surrey has a similar problem: forget about being an MP or head north.”

Rawnsley was clearly concious of being accused of lifting his column or he would not have bothered to make such a minor change.

He didn’t stop there though:

Economist:

“Most obviously, it is much harder for one party to secure a strong political mandate. [...] some way to surmount the problem has to be found if either party is to get a respectable absolute majority. [...] The country needs national political parties. At the moment, it does not have them.”

Rawnsley:

“For as long as the two parties are entrenched in their strongholds but incapable of reaching very far beyond them, it increases the likelihood of there being more hung parliaments. Even if one or other of them can scrape together some sort of parliamentary majority at the next election, it is unlikely to be an impressive one, meaning whoever is prime minister will struggle to claim to have a national mandate.”

Economist:

“The Conservative Party now has scant direct knowledge of the northern cities. Labour is similarly clueless about people living in southern towns.”

Rawnsley:

“When speaking about the south, some Labour people talk as if they were describing hostile territory rather than part of their own country. When on the subject of the north, some Tories can sound as if they are talking about a part of the map captioned: “Here be dragons”.”

Economist:

“Both main parties will concentrate on the Midlands, where loyalties are less entrenched, and on picking off Liberal Democrat seats; but the Tories need to win some northern seats to get a majority.”

Rawnsley:

“They will concentrate on the Midlands and trying to bag some Lib Dem seats, but the Conservatives need to gain some northern seats to have any hope of constructing a reasonable majority.”

Economist:

“The ideal economic solution would be to build a bigger private sector in Britain’s north (and in Northern Ireland and Wales), demolishing what Tories angrily refer to as Labour’s client state. This is the work of many years.”

Rawnsley:

“Politicians of all parties talk about “rebalancing” the economy, but that is the work of many years”

And as if that was not enough, for good measure Rawnsley even nicks Cliffe’s “two nations” sentence:

Economist:

“The diverging politics of the Labour north and Conservative south make England look ever more like two nations.”

Rawnsley:

“We are not so much a country divided as two nations.”

Struggling with Labour out of power and a complete lack of access, the Observer’s “award-winning chief political commentator” has taken to stealing the work of someone twenty years his junior and attempting to pass it off as his own by tweaking a few words. Quite tragic really.


102 Comments

  1. 1
    Anonymous says:

    He’s fucked

    • 16
      The Way It Works says:

      Normally, the original author spots this kind of thing (because they’re the only one who cares) and raises it via a ‘false flag’ story in a publication such as Private Eye.

      • 20

        Yes. Thought that too. Curious…

        • 80

          Hmm, stranger and stranger methinks. Why would such a well known journo take such an extraordinary risk. Well done Guido for spotting it – you must have almost as exciting a life as me :).
          I have had a couple of exhausitng days commenting on here. Hope you enjoyed me – I know that I was good but it is sometimes nice to hear it from others. Constructive criticism also welcome, but accusations of being a pseudo intellectual twat are a little boring and unoriginal.

    • 22
      Gordon Brown says:

      This evening I will be riding the Wall of Death on my Ichyfanny 500

      • 27
        Roundell says:

        We now need to watch the actions of the Guardian – will they tell their readers or not.

        Another dodgy dossier cut and pasted off the Internet

        • 48
          Gooey Blob says:

          The Graun has more writers than readers these days.

          • De La Fiurgieres says:

            This story demonstrates that they don’t in fact have any writers.

            Oh, I supose you’re still right.

    • 23
      spanows says:

      But numbers will always be the same…

      “Under a line drawn from the Wash to the Bristol Channel, there are 197 seats outside London. Just 10 of those seats are represented by a Labour MP.”

      I wrote pretty much the same thing in May 7th 2010

      http://owsblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/offering-opportunity.html

      • 28
        Professor Plagiarism says:

        Yes, the factual stuff, numbers etc. should be exactly the same, but you can still tell when something has been copied or slightly re-worded.

        • 59
          Johann Hari says:

          You can still tell when something has been copied or slightly re-worded, although the factual stuff, numbers etc. should be exactly the same.

        • 73
          Mata Hari says:

          Johann was not here

      • 43
        SarumSea says:

        Absolutely. I might have written either piece had I been cleverer. Why would two individuals with much the same interests not arrive at a similar conclusion and use similar words in a similar order. Monkeys and Shakespeare.
        PS I like Rawnsley. Good egg. Makes me laugh more than Guido does these days!!

      • 58
        A York University Economics Student says:

        When I wrote this essay in November 2012, I thought it deserved a wider audience and I am pleased that it has one now.

    • 24
      Guardianista Hell says:

      He should be sentenced to 3 years as Polly’s Toy tea boy. That’ll teach him. :cry:

    • 102
      Samuel Pepys says:

      What is the fuss about? Everyone knows the late and brilliant Nicholas Tomalin defined the qualities that a journalist needed for success were “ratlike cunning, a plausible manner … a little literary ability … (and) the capacity to steal other people’s ideas and phrases.”

  2. 1
    Guardianistas should have their own Gulag says:

    No need for a trial. Guilty. Send him down.

    What’s more it’ll keep him off radio 4 making pretend leader pages.

  3. 3
    DtP says:

    Oh oh, he’s in trouble, there’s something going on that will burst his bubble – oh oh etc etc ad infinitum.

  4. 4
    A Droyd says:

    Shurely shome mishtake!

  5. 5
    Andrew Efiong says:

    Another one flushed out!

    Rawnsley’s on the run now, he’s exposed for all to see as a serial plagiarist and has a lot of explaining to do. Will he resign?

  6. 6
    Ron Barras says:

    Gotcha!

    Looks like Rawnsley’s been lifting more text than a fork-lift truck in the Amazon warehouse.

    • 8
      The savant 10.4 highway patrol says:

      yeah well done guido and staff

      a damn fine piece of detailed research at short notice .

      whether it ‘ s plagiarism or not we will only know if rawners brings suit .

  7. 7
    Penfold says:

    In the socialist utopia there is no copyright, information is there for the commissars to use as they feel fit.
    Comrade Rawnsley was ensuring that an elitist periodical has an earnest piece re-distributed after subtle re-editing to ensure that the message was correctly made and that those right thinking people who share our Common Purpose have access.

    Nothing wrong, storm in teacup, move on…….

  8. 9
    ben says:

    someone should do the same for the bbc website and the labour party’s press releases

  9. 10
    Anonymous says:

    Rawnsley was always the office boy to Vincent Hanna who sadly died in 1997

  10. 11
    Lukewarm says:

    Seems to have done a nice edit job to me. Reads better than the original

  11. 12
    Woodward and Bernstein says:

    What a twat.
    Well done Guido.

  12. 13
    bergen says:

    I read the Rawnsley column and thought it quite good. I’m not impressed that he seems to have nicked it wholesale . As the Guardian/Observer people seem to think themselves as better than the herd, I assume that poor Mr Cliffe will receive both a handsome apology and Rawnsley’s fee. Or perhaps not.

  13. 14

    Rawnsley can devote more time now to starring in American Dad.

    Smug sod looks just like Stan Smith

  14. 15
    Bob Diamond Geezer says:

    Not quite plagiarism on a Raj Persaud scale but the gist of the two is undoubtedly very similar – indeed the article seemed familiar when reading it. Recall a few other similar articles on this theme.

    • 32
      Old Blind Pugh says:

      OK Andy seems to have been a naughty little boy, by what Geedo has managed to deduce, but what Jeremy Cliffe and Rawnsley wrote is perfectly correct, writers and musicians have always plagiarised each others works

      • 68
        Andrew Rawnsley says:

        OK I seem to have been a naughty little boy, by what Geedo has managed to deduce; but what Jeremy Cliffe and I wrote is perfectly correct: writers and musicians have always plagiarised each others works.

        • 70
          Andrew Rawnsley says:

          OK, from what Geedo has managed to deduce, I seem to have been a naughty little boy; but what Jeremy Cliffe and I wrote is perfectly correct.
          Writers and musicians have always plagiarised each other’s works.

          • Andrew Rawnsley says:

            OK, from what Geedo has managed to deduce, I seem to have been a naughty little boy; but what Jeremy Cliffe and I wrote is perfectly correct.
            Writers and musicians have always plagiarised each other’s works.

  15. 17
    MacGuffin says:

    Somewhere right about now, Mr Rawnsley is having a really REALLY bad day.

  16. 18
    Border Terrier says:

    Andrew Rawnsley is smugness incarnate. A characteristic shared by most Guardian/Observer types – except Hannah Betts.

  17. 21
    Anonymous says:

    I’m astounded people in his position think they can get away with this type of thing.

  18. 25
    FATTY PRESCOTT says:

    I ❤ CAKE

  19. 26
    Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the Economist receive a fee.

  20. 29
    1 + 1 = 4 says:

    Anyone tweeted him that he has been rumbled and refer him here?

  21. 30
    Ah! Monika says:

    Drawls Nay Newer.

  22. 34
  23. 35
    Great Granddad says:

    If I were to sit down and do a Rawnsley version of Hamlet, with my byline and a raunchy new title, perhaps I could make my fortune. Then again, perhaps not.

  24. 37
    OMG says:

    It’s pandemic but no inoculation available.

    http://www.anglohigher.com/magazines/magazine_detail/102/38

  25. 38
    One I wrote earlier says:

    I MUST down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.

    • 93
      .. and another (courtesy of Spike) says:

      I must go down to the sea again
      to the lonely sea and the sky,
      I left my shoes and socks there.
      I wonder if they’re dry.

  26. 39
    Woodward and Bernstein says:

    After Johann Hari was exposed as a plagiarist he announced he’d get some journalistic training.
    Will Rawnsley do the same?

  27. 40
    ordure ordure says:

    Eventually, the “north” will presumably start at the start of the M1, frightened southerners seem to be complete jellyfish reading this tosh from the distinguished. Strange really as many southern undergrads go north (and live to tell the tale) and many northern graduates work in the south east. FFS find something better, Forks.

  28. 41
  29. 42
    Johan Hari says:

    oi! Everybody is doing it…

  30. 44
    A Portly Gentleman With A White Streak In His Hair says:

    “…[S]tealing the work of someone twenty years his junior and attempting to pass it off as his own…”

    I couldn’t possibly comment…

  31. 46
    Party of Dave still letting in 515,000 immigrants per year says:

    You can’t put a cigarette paper between ‘em.

    http://tinyurl.com/p95uhzx

  32. 47
    Jimmy says:

    You mean the observation that Labour do better in the north and nasties in the south wasn’t original?

    • 57
      Gordon Brown says:

      Here, Jimmy, hold this poo for me a minute while I do up my flies.

    • 62
      I used to vote Labour but that's one mistake I'll never repeat says:

      “The nasties”?

      Remind us again which Party lied through its teeth to start a war that killed half a million men, women and children?

      And which oversaw the NHS deathcamps, slaughtering the British public, leaving vulnerable frightened people to die in their own filth.

  33. 49
    Polly in the coffee shop says:

    Johann Hari Andrew Rawnsley, one of the best is no plagiarist.

  34. 49
    Living in 97.223% white Merseyside says:

    MAGGIE IS NO LONGER,
    LET’S ALL DO THE CONGA!

    I like it, I like it.

  35. 52
    Raving Loon says:

    Worse than a 1st year university student.

  36. 54
    Ed Miliband says:

    How much longer do I have as Labour leader?

    • 63
      Len McCluskey, Communist imbecile and owner of Ed Miliband says:

      You aren’t Labour leader, yer little tit.

  37. 55
    Sir William Wade says:

    Copying from one person is plagiarism. Copying from three people is research.

  38. 56
    Anonymous says:

    See Andy (13,000 dead and rising ) Burnham has surfaced again to pontificate on the latest NHS crisis.

    He’s got balls I’ll give him that.

    • 64
      NHS Never Event says:

      He should go into a Staffordshire NHS hospital deathcamp to have his tonsils out.

      Then, perhaps, he might not have balls for much longer.

    • 69
      Fishy says:

      Breath-taking. Burnham says Hunt should take responsibility for the 111 problems.

      Responsibility is a concept that Labour demands of others but refuses to accept for itself.

      Look again at the SKY paper review the other night. Tessa Jowell criticised the way that the Govt calculated its immigration figures. It was pointed out to her that they are produced in the same way that Labour calculated them. ‘Yes but we were going to change them’, she said.

      When? she was asked. No answer was the reply.

      There can never have been a more deceitful, dishonest party in British politics, lacking even the slightest competence or fitness for office. Dregs, the bottom of the barrel they are.

      But of course they can get away with it.

      • 72
        Anonymous says:

        be interesting to see if Burnham lasts beyond the autumn. hmm..

      • 94
        Another completely dumb blonde (who recognises a mortgage frm when she sees one!) says:

        Jowell’s response to “When?” was “When we win the 2010 election”.

  39. 66

    Not even very clever use of Roget’s Thesaurus. I see under ‘PLAGIARIZE’ borrow, so perhaps he’ll say ‘just borrowed a few words’:

  40. 67
    Johann Hari says:

    Catching up with Andrew Rawnsley’s “award winning” column yesterday, I could not help think I had read the same points being made, with all the same examples and the same anecdotes, somewhere before.

  41. 71
    Chris The Leatherman says:

    I have always quite liked Andrew Rawnsley since he did a politics show about 20 years ago. I was particularly impressed when I heard heard him saying to Paxo on Newsnight last year, I think it was, Fuck Him when John Prescott was criticising a book he had written about expenses.

  42. 75

    You’ve all done very well.

  43. 78
    RTD Colonel says:

    Surely Editorship of The Independent can’t be far off …

  44. 79
    Raptor says:

    Northerners seem to think that they can inflict Labour governments on us in perpetuity.

    They expect us to carry on paying for their cloth-caps, pies and whippets, while they spend their time in union meetings or cashing in their Giros.

    Rawnsley should be sent up there to do a compassionate piece for his Islington readership. After all, that is North London, so it could happen here.

    • 99
      Andrew Rawnsley says:

      There seems to be an idea amongst Northerners that they can, in perpetuity, inflict Labour governments on the rest of us.

      They expect to be able to spend their time in union meetings or cashing in their Giros while the rest of us carry on paying for their cloth-caps, pies and whippets.

  45. 82
    glenda says:

    When someone gets busted like this, it’s often the just first time they got caught. If I were Guido I’d be going through his past columns

  46. 87
    Johann hari says:

    Anybody want to read some nice porn I’ve written featuring David Rose and a goat?

  47. 89
    Afriqua'a says:

    Its so unusual to see the ailing ECONOMIST quoted anywhere anymore … they will value the publicity …

  48. 90
    scrap the bbc licence fee says:

    always thought Rawnsley was a wanker
    it’s nice to have one’s prejudices confirmed

  49. 92
    Point of Information 2 says:

    Poor show lifting from the Economist without so much as a hat tip.

    Poor show indeed.

  50. 95
    nhs death camp says:

    but Yawnsley will still be on radio 4 morning noon and night

  51. 98
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Rawnsley and Cliffe are one and the same person? That Rawnsley needs to moonlight because he needs the extra cash for… who knows what?

  52. 100
    Major Bonkers says:

    I nominate Andrew Rawnsley for the Orwell Prize.

    He spends his working week copying out spin-doctor drivel under the lobby system, and his weekends plagarising others’ articles.

  53. 101

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