How the US presidential campaign was won and lost – four insights from the people closest to the action

Tony Halmos, Director of the King’s Commission on London and a Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, recently attended Harvard University’s Campaign Managers’ Conference, where operatives from both the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns shared insights from their time working on the election. In this blog, Tony discusses some of the things he learnt at the conference. 

0n 30 November and 1 December, the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government hosted its regular post-US election ‘Campaign Managers’ Conference’ – a two-day review of the presidential campaign by those most closely involved in it. The event itself has been running every four years since 1972, just after each presidential election, but this year’s gained more media coverage than usual, after audio of a short, angry and robust exchange between the Trump and Clinton campaigns was published. But the conference generated light as well as heat, revealing some interesting insights about how the campaign was won and lost. Continue reading

Policy Idol finalist Bakht Baryar tells his story

Bakht_PolicyIdolBakht Baryar was a final year BSc Political Economy student at King’s College London and a finalist at Policy Idol 2015.  His pitch titled “An anchor in Africa: the value of the state of Somaliland” won Bakht the award for Best Delivery at the competition.  In this blog post, to coincide with the launch of Policy Idol 2016, Bakht tells us why he decided to enter the competition and what it was like to take part.  You can read the details of Bakht’s pitch and watch his winning three minute pitch online. Continue reading

The UK in a Changing Europe

Prof Anand MenonHere at the Policy Institute we host a number of external initiatives that form our Policy Park. The idea is that by creating a diverse ecosystem for policy analysis we can help put forward the most innovative thinking in today’s most important policy issues. The Policy Park is currently made up of the Media Standards Trust, the Ramphal Institute, the Pensions Policy Institute and the ESRC funded The UK in a Changing Europe initiative. In this podcast, Professor Anand Menon, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe (and also European Politics and Foreign Affairs professor at King’s), chats with the project communications officer Ben Miller about the purpose of the initiative and what they hope to achieve through their work. Continue reading

How to run a government

Michelle ClementIn June of this year, the Strand Group at the Policy Institute at King’s brought together former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Blair’s chief adviser at the time, Sir Michael Barber, to discuss the ins and outs of running a government.  Barber headed up the Delivery Unit during Blair’s time as Prime Minister and was key to the management of Blair’s ambitious public service reform agenda.  In this blog post, Michelle Clement, Events Manager for the Strand Group and PhD student at King’s College London examines the role of Barber’s delivery unit during the Blair years and the impact on successive governments.

Michelle began her Hewlett Packard funded PhD in 2015, on Reforming Britain’s Public Services: An Analysis of Sir Michael Barber’s Tenure of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, 2001-2005. Her PhD will represent the first academic study of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit with the added and crucial dimension of Barber’s private, unpublished diaries.

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Was Peter Oborne right about the Telegraph’s coverage of the HSBC scandal?

On Tuesday 17 February Peter Oborne resigned as chief political commentator at the Telegraph, with an article published on OpenDemocracy claiming, among other things, that

‘The Telegraph’s recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers. It has been placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers. There is only one word to describe this situation: terrible.’

The publisher has described Mr Oborne’s article as ‘an astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo’.

One of Mr Oborne’s main criticisms of the paper was that last week’s HSBC scandal received meagre coverage in the Telegraph, in order not to endanger a lucrative advertising deal.

This post assesses Oborne’s claim. It does this by analysing the Telegraph’s coverage of the HSBC scandal, in comparison to coverage in other papers, based on data gathered with the digital content analysis tool Steno. This tool, developed and run by the Media Standards Trust, gathers, tags and analyses large volumes of UK online news articles and has been developed to provide election coverage analysis (Election Unspun is launching next week).

In this instance, we can test Oborne’s claims about the Telegraph’s coverage of the HSBC tax avoidance scandal. Our analysis shows that the Telegraph published 16 online articles featuring the HSBC scandal between Monday 9 February and the following Sunday (out of 2,047 articles published on the Telegraph website during that time). This was less than half the amount of stories published on the websites of The Times (and Sunday Times), the FT and the Independent over the same period, and less than a quarter of those published by the Guardian (who broke the story) and the Daily Mail (Figure 1).


Figure 1

However, even this gives a slightly misleading impression of the Telegraph’s coverage. As Figure 2 shows, the bulk of the articles appeared online on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 February. On the Wednesday, coverage was largely based on exchanges on the matter during Prime Minister’s Questions, consisting of:

In each of these articles, the main focus was on the behaviour of public figures or bodies (Miliband, Cameron, Goldsmith and HMRC) not on the behaviour of HSBC.

On the following day (Thursday) the five published articles mentioning the HSBC scandal consisted of:


Figure 2

Again, the focus of each of these articles was the behaviour of public individuals and public bodies rather than the behaviour of HSBC (in this case Ed Miliband and the Labour Party). Of the 10 articles published on the Telegraph’s website on Wednesday and Thursday, only one mentioned HSBC in the headline.

The remaining six articles, spread from Tuesday 10 February to Sunday 15 February (the Telegraph published no articles on HSBC on Monday when the story broke), consist of the following:

In other words, though the articles mentioned the scandal, none focused significantly on alleged wrongdoing at HSBC.

In total, as Figure 3 shows, the Telegraph’s coverage of the HSBC scandal overwhelmingly focused on how the allegations affect public figures and bodies. 12 out of 16 articles focus on how the allegations reflect on politicians or party strategists. Three focus on how the scandal reflects on HMRC, while just one focuses specifically on HSBC – in this case on an apology by its chief executive.


Figure 3

These figures indicate that Peter Oborne’s criticisms of the Telegraph’s coverage of the scandal appear to be well founded. The Telegraph devoted far fewer articles to the subject than comparable UK news sources. Those articles that it did publish contained little or no investigation into the allegations levelled at HSBC, instead framing the issue as a matter of embarrassment or conflict among politicians, political parties, or public bodies.

To see a list of all the articles published by the Telegraph last week that refer to HSBC click here.

Post by Dr Gordon Ramsay, Research Fellow, Media Standards Trust and Visiting Research Fellow, The Policy Institute at King’s