Guido Commended by Royal Statistical Society

Guido is honoured to have been commended by the Royal Statistical Society at the Statistical Excellence in Journalism Awards today. Commenting on this blog’s data journalism over the last year, specifically our exposé on gender inequality at the patriarchal CLASS think tank and how the Guardian uses the word “scrounger” more than any other paper, the Royal Statistical Society praised our:

“commitment to using statistics to question, analyse and investigate the issues that affect society at large”

Guido looks forward to providing his readers with a similarly high standard of data journalism in the year ahead…

Misery Index: Summer is Coming

A weekend heatwave, wall to wall sunshine and even a slight drop in unemployment – it’s no wonder we are all so happy. This is one of the most joyous months we have had under this government, with the Retail Prices Index staying at 2.5%, more people in work and a three day weekend awaiting us. There has however been a rise in the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement, meaning we are not quite as happy as our happiness peak in February this year. The clear trend of decline in misery since February 2011 remains…

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

#Nigel4Newark: the Pros and Cons of Running

The UKIP leader says he will “think very hard” about standing in Newark but appeared cautious last night, asking is it the right seat for me?” Guido gives you the pros and cons facing Farage.

Pros

  • CLICK TO ENLARGEAnalysis by the Election Data website (right, click to enlarge) looking at Mosaic demographic data, past voting behaviour and self-reported political affiliation suggests that Farage would be well received in Newark. The overwhelming majority of the constituency is seen as “receptive” or “fairly receptive” to UKIP, with some areas “very receptive”. Only the town centre are voters described as “unreceptive”.
  • UKIP’s support in the seat has multiplied in the last four years. In 2010 the UKIP candidate polled just 3.8%. As George Eaton notes in the 2013 county council elections the party won 17.1% in Newark and Sherwood. The by-election will come off the back of a Tory humiliation in Europe.
  • Mike Smithson makes a convincing point for the pro camp: the last Tory by-election hold while in government was William Hague at Richmond in 1989 – 25 years ago.
  • Farage has hinted that he wants to run in a by-election before 2015. How many more by-elections will there be in UKIP-friendly Tory seats in the next year?

Cons

  • Patrick Mercer had a majority of 16,152. It is a fairly safe Tory seat.
  • The Tory candidate Robert Jenrick has been putting in the groundwork over the last few weeks in anticipation of a by-election and the Tories are quietly confident their man is the real deal. Though his website needs some work.
  • Farage told BBC News last night his main reservation is that he is not a local candidate, admitting “I haven’t particularly got connections with the local area”. Given UKIP’s Tory opponent has been parachuted in, might UKIP gain from running a candidate from within the constituency instead?
  • The establishment media is with one voice telling Farage that if he does not run in Newark then he is a bottler. His enemies seem awfully keen on Nigel running. The Tory stooges at the Times have put it on their front page, as have the Telegraph. Are they setting a trap?

Or does he who dares win…

GRAPH:  BBC Mind Share v Public Market Share

BBC-PAPER-CHARTFor years the BBC has explained its disproportionate consumption of the Guardian newspaper compared with public market share by arguing that it needs to buy more broadsheet papers than popular ones to best provide news for licence fee payers. It is not an issue of left-right bias, they claim, rather a distinction along broadsheet-popular press lines. Guido has analysed new figures released by the BBC to see whether this excuse stands up to scrutiny.

Methodology: By dividing a) each paper’s percentage share of the total papers purchased by the BBC , with b) each paper’s percentage share of the public market, we get c) the BBC mind share / public market share ratio. This tells us how greater or smaller BBC consumption is proportionally compared to public consumption.

Results: As the graph above shows, BBC consumption of the Independent is proportionally over 11 times that of the public market share. Next follows the Guardian at almost 5 times. BBC consumption of the Telegraph is proportionally just 1.7 times that of the public, and consumption of the Tory establishment’s Times newspaper is proportionally just 2.5 times as much as the public. The left-wing broadsheets have a far higher BBC consumption ratio than their right-wing rivals.

However, the popular press is where the BBC really gives the game away. Proportionally its consumption of the Mail is half that of the public and its consumption of the Sun is just a third that of the public. These are by some distance the two best-selling newspapers among the general population. Yet BBC consumption of the Mirror is proportionally double that of the Sun and 1.5 times that of the Mail.

Conclusion: This analysis shows that while the BBC is right that it makes a distinction between low circulation broadsheets and the popular press, there is a left-wing bias that extends to all papers. Among broadsheets, the BBC’s consumption of the Guardian and Independent is proportionally considerably higher that of the right-wing broadsheets (Times and Telegraph). Among the popular press, the BBC’s consumption of the Mirror is proportionally considerably higher than the Mail and the Sun. The numbers clearly show that the BBC’s newspaper purchasing patterns are not determined along a broadsheet-popular divide, they are determined on a left-right political bias.

Government of the Etonians, by the Etonians for the Etonians

tory-etonian-manifesto

The FT has a great spot this morning:

“There are six people writing the manifesto and five of them went to Eton; the other went to St Paul’s,” one Conservative MP in a marginal constituency told the Financial Times. A senior minister said the make-up of the prime minister’s team was a bad advertisement for social mobility.

The authors of the next Tory manifesto are, according to the FT; Cameron himself, Jo Johnson, Ed Llewellyn, Dave’s old school friend and chief of staff; Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy and Rupert Harrison. The male-only team are all former Etonians, except in a nod to social mobility George Osborne, who was educated at St Paul’s in London, has been allowed to join the Eton Fives team. Floreat Etona!

Labour’s Women Problem

Miliband has been up in Leeds today talking about his favourite subject of late: the Tories’ apparent ‘women problem’. Yet as Hazel Blears announces that she too is standing down, how true is it that the Tories are proportionally losing more women than Labour? A Guido FactCheck investigates.

There were 48 female Tory MPs in 2010.

Lorraine Fulbrook, Jessica Lee and Laura Sandys are not seeking re-election, Louise Mensch stepped down in 2012, and Anne Mcintosh has been deselected.

That means in this parliament female Tory MPs have a casualty rate of 10.4%.

Labour meanwhile had 81 female MPs in 2010.

Nine have said they will be off in 2015: Ann Clwyd, Dawn Primarolo, Tessa Jowell, Glenda Jackson, Joan Ruddock, Anne McGuire, Joan Walley, Meg Munn and Hazel Blears.

That means in this parliament female Labour MPs have a casualty rate of 11.1%.

Filling your front bench with women in a stage-managed attack is all well and good, but the truth is Labour are losing more women than the Tories…

UPDATE: Following some complaints on Twitter about the graph above, Guido is happy to issue the following clarification:

UPDATE II: 

Are Food Markets Really Failing?

One of the key demands in today’s divine intervention is that the government “act to investigate food markets that are failing.” Well, if you look at inflation-adjusted prices of corn, wheat and soybean over the last hundred years…

…it has actually been a hundred years of declining prices…

Via @csdrake

UPDATE: And food prices in real terms are still lower than they were in the 80s:

Hallelujah! 

Misery Index: Get Happy

You might be reading this with the ground floor of your house underwater but it doesn’t matter: you are officially the happiest you have been this parliament. Today’s unemployment figures provide a statistical anomaly of seeing the rate rise 0.1% even though the actual number has fallen by 125,000. Choose which stat you want to use as per partisan preference. 

There has been a small increase in Retail Price Index inflation, though the small fall in the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement provides some cheer. As you can see from the chart to the right, seasonally adjusted public sector debt aside, there is a clear trend of a decline in misery since February 2011…

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

EXC: Gordon Brown Office Has £10,000-a-Week “Expenses” Raises Over £3 Million, Gives Less Than £1 Million to Charity

  • Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown has £10,000-a-week expenses
  • Not a registered charity, two thirds of funds raised spent on expenses
  • Less than  £1 million given to charity out of over £3 million raised
  • Vanity project lets  Gordon and Sarah

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Misery Index: January Blues

The good news, as someone once said, keeps on coming with unemployment falling from 7.4% to 7.1% today. That hasn’t stopped the January blues leaving us all a little bit sadder than we were before Christmas however. There has been […]

+ READ MORE +

Everything is ‘Better Than You Expected’, Blanchflower

David Blanchflower, Gordon Brown’s favourite former appointee to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has come as close as his arrogance allows him to admitting he was totally wrong about everything. Back in 2009 the out-of-luck economist gazed into […]

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9 Out of 10 Top Dole Claiming Constituencies are Labour

Some top number-crunching by the calculator-bashers over at the Backbencher this morning. They have worked out that, taking away Northern Irish seats where Labour do not stand, 90% of the top 100 constituencies that claim Jobseekers’ Allowance have Labour MPs. […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Janan Ganesh on Labour’s soft left

“Ms Cooper does not believe the previous Labour government was wrong to run a fiscal deficit after 15 years of economic growth. Both she and Mr Burnham think families should be entitled to tax credits for a third child. These views are not mad. They are just a bit too left-wing for Britain. For any serious party, that amounts to the same thing. The soft left is more electable than the hard left but then Mars is more habitable than Neptune: neither planet will host human life anytime soon.”

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