Posts Tagged ‘Paul Staines’

Observer’s political correspondent caught plagiarising

August 14, 2013

Picture of Andrew Rawnsley

Andrew Nicholas James Rawnsley (born 5 January 1962, Leeds), according to his Guardian profileis the Observer’s award-winning chief political commentator. He is also a critically acclaimed broadcaster and author.

But – and in the best tradition of Johann Hari’s  techniques and ethics – he is not above lifting a few paragraphs of text from others when it suits his purpose.

The revelations about Rawnsley came 2 weeks ago from Guido Fawkes on his blog (run by Paul Staines and is probably the most read right-of-centre political blog in the UK):

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).” 

The Guide Fawkes post contains many more examples of the filching of text/ideas

Somebody else filled in for Rawnsley last week and Guido reports that he is still away and may be replaced for next week’s column as well.

Perhaps he is on extended gardening leave!


%d bloggers like this: