The Thick of It

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Ken cuts Boris poll lead to 2%

With reports today that Ken Livingstone has cut Boris Johnson's poll lead to just two percent, I took a look at the history of these polls in the lead up to May's election.

You can see that we're now within the margin for error and that while Johnson has kept his neck in front, Ken is snapping at his heels as we have just two weeks to go:


With Labour having a strong lead over the Conservatives nationally and more so in London, it remains to be seen whether Ken can take advantage of that and get himself back into City Hall.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A sad day for football

Yesterday I was among at Wembley for the FA Cup Semi Final between Spurs and Chelsea. As someone who remembers watching the Hillsborough disaster unfold on TV when I was nine years old, being able to pay my respects to those who so tragically died attending a game just like I did, was important. I, like many thousands of others at Wembley and across the country yesterday was denied that chance.




Upsetting and offensive chanting marred the minute of silence so much that referee Martin Atkinson did one thing right yesterday and cut it short. It has been widely reported today that this was a minority of Chelsea fans. That was so, but unfortunately many more engaged in the same chanting before the game, outside the stadium. This was also peppered with regular anti-Semitic chants at the Spurs Jewish background.

Chelsea have rightly condemned this, but more must be done to stop this. I've been attending matches like this for many years and the atmosphere has changed little. While many in the UK can exclaim their anger at FIFA chief Sepp Blatter's ill advised comments about racism, we still  need to get our house in order.

While monkey chanting at black players is thankfully now a thing of the past, many more subtle forms of racist and seriously offensive chanting still pollutes British football.

It is time for clubs like Chelsea and Spurs to take this matter head on and ban fans who engage in such despicable behaviour - as happened when Spurs fans were prosecuted for offensive chanting at Portsmouth a few years ago.

It will only take a concerted campaign to rid football of this. The victims of Hillsborough deserve it. English football needs it if it is to continue to take the moral high ground on issues of discrimination as it so often does.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Ken needs to do to win

My letter has been published in today's Evening Standard about what Ken Livingstone can do to win:


You get to read the others too as I've not got the inclination to spend my afternoon on Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The problem with personality: Ken V Boris


The ongoing spat between relatively wealthy Ken and very wealthy Boris about who has paid tax properly is distracting us all from what each man is proposing to do to our city. That suits a Boris frightened by Ken's low fares policy. This has resonated with voters and brought his old rival back into contention. Boris' manifesto lacks substance and ambition, his vision for London is underwhelming, yet he was very forthright in campaigning for a cut to the top rate of income tax, which will benefit him by many £1000s annually.

Ken needs to focus on policy to win, Boris on personality and negativity. Ken has become an easy having collected an army of both fans and enemies over several decades at the top of London politics.

London is generally a Labour city, yet polling suggests that Ken is under-performing Labour's London lead. Again, this is down to personality. People like his policies even when they don't like him. Ken could once lay claim to having one of the biggest personalities in politics, yet he is up against an even bigger one in Boris. That isn’t necessarily Ken’s fault, but he needs to fight harder to seize the political agenda back if he is to win.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

London mayoral race in social media

I thought it would be good to see how the social web commentariat is expressing itself towards the London mayoral race between incumbent Boris Johnson and previous mayor, Ken Livingstone. When we last looked at this Johnson was consistently getting more buzz than his Labour rival. Ken was only able to push above Boris after he made some "controversial" comments in an interview with the New Statesman. 

Looking at the number of mentions for each man across Twitter, blogs and forums we can see that Ken is now consistently jostling for position with Boris. High profile campaigns both for and against each candidate and the looming election date has slightly eroded the incumbency lead that Boris had held several months ago: 


In February both candidates had a net positive sentiment towards them in social media, with Boris having more detractors and fans, with feeling towards Ken more neutral. Just a month away from the election sentiment towards Boris has dipped, with him now receiving more negative than positive comments: 


Ken's results have markedly improved. He is now looking at a net positive result of 8%, against Boris' -2%. This suggests that the social media commentariat isn't swayed by the high profile negative media that the Labour candidate has been receiving recently.


Does it mean Ken will win? No, but it does give a useful insight into what the social web thinks about the two men in the bruising personality clash.