Yesterday the cultural left got in a free hit with a three pronged attack by the Guardian, LSE and BBC working together to push a line that the police were essentially to blame for the August riots.
The headline of the LSEâ€™s press release was:
LSE and Guardian study finds anger with police fuelled summer riots
They back this up with the stat:
Of the people interviewed, 85% said policing was an important or very important factor in why the riots happened.
The subtext is that the police were essentially to blame for the August riots. This is an outrageous position to take which is unsupported by facts. It is certainly unsupported by published facts as the LSE donâ€™t propose to publish their â€œreportâ€ until 14th December. Any analysis of the actual report will get lost in the Christmas holidays. The headline, disembodied from any facts or logical arguments, can have a life of its own.
The â€œreportâ€ referred to today is no such thing. All it is is a flimsy press release from the LSE layered with sided comment from the Guardian. The LSE are refusing to publish any actual report until December 14th. Nick Herbert the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice was unwise to go on Newsnight last night without sight of any real data. Ex-Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair talked about the quality of the LSEâ€™s research. Had he seen it? No-one else had.
The LSEâ€™s sample is 270 people. As there is no real report we have no idea who they are. Postcodes? Ages? Criminal history? We donâ€™t know what questions were asked to get to the conclusion offered by these â€œresearchersâ€. Polemicists more like.
Last night’s Newsnight was taken over by a left wing apologia for the August riots. No â€œreportâ€. Just a highly edited TV polemic. Newsnight accepted a package from a third party that lasted 20 minutes. It was essentially a jazzed up interview with three unrepentent criminals (Alex, Daniel and Jade) presented by Guardian reporter Paul Lewis. Hilariously the vicious Jade, “We enjoyed it. I felt no guilt. Nuffink.”, wants to be a primary school teacher.
I wrote to the LSEâ€™s unacademic Professor Tim Newburn yesterday to request sight of his â€œreportâ€. His response was:
Dear Mr Taylor,
Unusually for a piece of research the initial findings are coming out in the newspaper. Quite a lot of data and supporting evidence is on the Guardian website for the project:
Please donâ€™t hesitate to get back in touch if you have specific questions or queries â€“ I know how frustrating it can be to see headlines and not necessarily find what lies beneath them.
Without irony Newburn tells me: â€œI know how frustrating it can be to see headlines and not necessarily find what lies beneath them.â€ Yes. Quite. He is doing a job on us. It stinks.