Archive for the 'Media' Category


So far, at least, the intense Daily Mail campaign against Harriet Harman is not being reflected in the daily YouGov figures

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

That is not to say that it won’t

Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun sees LAB back at 39% the share at which it has been getting for months as the YouGov weekly average trend chart above shows.

One of the dangers with all polling analysis is to confuse correlation with causation. Clearly many factors are at play all the time.

There is also a view that I share that it can take time for big external events to show up in the polling so it might be that if the Harman issues are indeed having an impact it will take a little bit longer to show.

Until now, of course, the coverage has largely been in the Daily Mail itself. That has changed with the moves yesterday and the story is being covered more widely elsewhere in the media.

We know from Ipsos-MORI that Labour voters only make up a realively small share of the Daily Mail’s audience. See this chart of 2010 voting.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Do the media ‘get it’ yet?

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Press, public and politicians – who needs defending from whom

It was no doubt a coincidence that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks were in court in relation to the charges against them over the phone hacking scandal on the same day that newspaper and magazine publishers were also in court seeking to prevent the granting of a Royal Charter on press regulation.  Nonetheless, the former made a somewhat ironic backdrop to the latter.

Not that it’s just the tabloids.  The Guardian caught an almighty dose of self-importance when one of their writers’ partner was detained at an airport over the summer, when they essentially claimed that journalistic material was somehow a separate and higher class of property, equivalent to the contents of a diplomatic bag, even when it’s suspected of being stolen or a threat to national security, or both.

Similarly, the instinctive reaction of the BBC was to rail against ‘political pressure’ when questions were raised this week about its governance, even as the scandal over historic sexual abuse allegations against current or former BBC staff rumbles on.  Many of these allegations remain sub judice and we must maintain the principle of innocent unless proven guilty.  It would just be nice if that principle were applied by the media to people they find interesting, in spirit as well as letter; in inference as well as in fact.

Which brings us back to the question of regulation.  Leaving individuals aside, if there’s a common thread running through these various scandals, it’s the industrial sense of entitlement and impunity; one justified by the self-declared mission to hold the rich, famous and powerful to account.

Not that this is anything new.  I was recently reading a book written by a long-forgotten journalist about his experiences reporting the happenings at the League of Nations during the twenties and thirties.  He pronounces that “of the three orders which comprise our new World State in embryo [by which he means The League – not the best of analyses given that the book was published in 1937] – the statesmen who represent the governments of the world; the secretariat which represents the first international civil service, and the journalists who create and reflect world opinion – it is the journalists and not the ministers who are the real representatives of the peoples.”

That deeply corrosive and undemocratic mind-set persists and has led to the logical next step: that if the media represent the people, then it is they who must hold governments and politicians to account.  It is why the media struggles with the legitimacy of regulation as a concept, never mind in any practical application.  Of course, the political class aren’t immune from mutually covering up would-be scandals of their own and the press does have an invaluable role to play in investigating, campaigning and reporting – when done responsibly – and it needs to be free to do so.

Even so, the idea that in a democratic system it is the media and not opposition parties, backbenchers and ultimately the public who hold a government to account has to be challenged, not just because it’s false but because the belief that it’s true lies behind the sense of justification in the media’s more squalid actions, even when they have nothing to do with politics.  It’s a license: because we hold politicians to account they can’t regulate us because that would strike against the public interest we perform; because no regulator’s said we can’t act in a certain way, we can.

As with all the best constitutional settlements, the key is not in the theory but in the practice – and that’s guaranteed not by rules but by self-restraint.  The best indicator this week that many in the media still don’t get that was the court challenge against the Charter.  The irony is that had they understood that, the Charter and regulator wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

David Herdson


Where the Daily Mail vote has gone since 1992

Friday, October 4th, 2013


Why politicians of all colours will have less to fear from the press at GE2015

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Remember how the Sun’s decision to drop LAB was the big news when party was last in Brighton

Since then the circulation of almost all papers has dropped sharply

The online presence is being reduced by paywalls


The national press will be much less influential at GE2015 than in previous elections

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Look how the industry has declined

The ground war is going to matter much more than the air war

We spend a lot of time on PB trying to assess the impact of specific developments or stories on voting behaviour.

One factor that we should bear in mind is that the national media is in a sharp decline. For every five people that bought a daily national paper when the coalition was formed just four do so today and who knows what the above table will look like in May 2015.

Combine the falling sales with the rise of the pay wall and it’s not hard to conclude that the press is not going to be as influential as in previous times.

There’s another aspect to this: declining audiences for TV news.

Given the continued ban on TV election advertising, which I think is wrong, and the challenge facing the campaigns as they strive to get their messages over is enormous.

    All this means in electioneering terms is that the ground game is going to be even more important. It becomes the prime way of getting your message across

But how are the parties with the it declining memberships going to resource that? Pushing envelopes through the doors of every residence in a 70,000+ voter constituency requires a lot of foot soldiers

Mike Smithson


The Saturday front pages are just starting to come through

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Keep refreshing to make sure you get all of them


Check the front pages with this widget

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013


As a general rule we over-estimate the impact of media stories on voting intentions

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

The influence is on the decline

On the face of the Lib Dem should be taking a real beating in the polls at the moment. Since the Rennard story broke on Thursday evening there has been increasing coverage and the party’s response has been less than optimal.

But what’s happened in the voting polls that have come out? ComRes last night had a 1% decline in the LD share which the Telegraph’s Ben Brogan described as a “slump”. Eh?

Today’s YouGov has the party at 10% which is completely in line with where it has been for several months.

And on top of this we have the Ashcroft-Populus poll on Eastleigh showing no change on what the same firm reported on Friday evening.

As Peter Kellner writes today on the Rennard allegations:

“well, it’s not as if the public thought of politicians as people of the highest moral calibre before Channel 4 News shocked viewers by suggesting otherwise. Why should the Lib Dems’ diminished core vote erode further?”

I think there another big trend in play. Far fewer of us actually read papers or watch TV new bulletins. Things don’t get communicated in the same way.

Mike Smithson

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