Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris


1:13 pm - March 7th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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Sarah Sands is now the acting editor at London’s Evening Standard.

She has also thrown her hat into the ring for Boris Johnson in the Mayoral election.

It’s odd more isn’t being made of this, though this bias has become ingrained at the newspaper.

This is what she said in her column last night:

The on dit is both irresistible and unjust. Ken Livingstone’s “big idea” is actually a cannily small and specific one: a promise of about £4 a week reduction on people’s Tube fares.

Ken has made a political philosophy out of an election bribe by implying that his rival is a heartless toff. He persuades voters that a man who describes his £250,000 newspaper column as “chicken feed” is a version of a greedy, out-of-touch banker.

Only £4 a week! Though she doesn’t care to mention Boris’ big plan is to save people £3 a year.

For a celebrity, Boris is bad at fighting elections. His paradoxical mind is uncomfortable with simple slogans and his suppression of jokes removes his most effective form of engagement.

Compare his jousts with Jeremy Paxman with his anxious interview with Andrew Marr. Elections are not his metier. He is better at being Mayor.

Hmmm. I wonder how longer the Evening Standard will continue to pretend it is being neutral in the Mayoral race.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


It almost sounds as if she wants Boris to be Mayor for life!

There is also the ES “City Hall Correspondent” Peter Dominiczak:

http://zelo.tv/wn7k1R

You don’t have to be right-wing to work at the Yorkshire Post, but you need to do a good impression of it if not.

Oh noes! A newspaper with a political view!

Although, actually that column doesn’t endorse Boris as mayor, it just says that the popular wisdom about Boris is not terribly accurate. Pulling quotes out of it can give you whatever impression you want.

“Ken is far more politically astute than Boris.”

“For a celebrity, Boris is bad at fighting elections”

“The on dit on Boris this week is that his campaign is lacklustre and he cannot produce “big ideas”.”

“the Livingstone team rightly complain that Ken gets less visual coverage from the media. I am sympathetic to them: it is the problem of running against a blond with a comedic face.”

If you want to read a newspaper with an outright bias against a Mayoral candidate, try the Guardian last time round. Boris was portrayed (literally) as a Hitler figure who wanted to gas “der schwarzes”, was called a sociopath and there was a special little pull-out where ‘famous’ people pledged to emigrate/go on hunger strike/leave London if Boris won. That’s bias. But then, why the hell not? If people want to read the damn thing they can. If they don’t, then they don’t have to.

Mysteriously, those who claimed they would leave London seem to have stayed put!

4 – and Arabella Weir was complaining about being a bit porky a few months later, so the hunger strike obviously didn’t take either.

6. Paul Ashby

Not exactly a surprise from the Mini Mail.

Quite Tim J.

What on earth leads to hte conclusion that a newspaper should be neutral among contgenders in an election?

The G endorsed the Lib Dems before the last GE, The Sun backed Blair, who has ever given a shit where the Indy puts its hat and so on.

Quite apart from anything else, haven’t you ever thought that the concept of “free speech” applies to a newspaper? You know, that thing that Wilkes went to jail for?

Damn, I’m all for improving the way things are but could we just have a little bit of attention paid to the effort that was made to get us to where we are?

You know, this idea that a newspaper can say whatever the fuck it likes subject only to libel and incitement to violence restrictions?

8. Churm Rincewind

@ Tim Worstall – Quite. No problems there. But surely Sunny’s original post was simply intended to suggest/point out/assert that the ES is backing Boris? I have no idea whether this is true or not, though the ES does have a bit of form in this area.

But I don’t see that he’s suggesting this is wrong in itself.

@8….”Hmmm. I wonder how longer the Evening Standard will continue to pretend it is being neutral in the Mayoral race.”

This does imply that it ought to be.

And if I’ve misread that, then well, sorry. I’ll just look forward to Sunny’s piece praising the newspaper for exercising their free speech rights then.,,,,,you know, when they do come out for Boris

The Evening Standard stayed ‘neutral’ until the day that an opinion poll showed that Ken was in the lead. At that point they’ve gone for the jugular, printing ‘nice’ stories about Boris and ‘nasty’ stories about Ken. It’s pretty obvious that they’d always backed Boris, but thought they could do so in a hands-free manner until that opinion poll showed them that maybe it would be a close race. So yes, it’s definitely electioneering on the ES part. They want to appear to be ‘neutral’ but could only do so whilst it was a one-horse race.

If you want a strident left wing London newspaper to act as a counterbalance to the Standard, go out and create one – just like Ken did with his ridiculous tax-payer funded propaganda sheet.

You make your living from the media after all. You must know something about it. The Guardian doesn’t really give a damn what happens outside Central London – maybe have a word with your chums over there about setting up a London paper?

‘Don’t whine about the media, be the media’ as Jello Birafra once said.

Sands is an idiot. £4 a week, if Livingstone had proposed putting up the mayor’s precept, would have been a lot of money.

The problem’s more that the promise might not be deliverable, but of course someone writing for the only evening paper in a capital city can’t be expected to crunch numbers or anything. That sort of thing is for the Chinese.

“The G endorsed the Lib Dems before the last GE, The Sun backed Blair, who has ever given a shit where the Indy puts its hat and so on.”

“If you want a strident left wing London newspaper to act as a counterbalance to the Standard, go out and create one – just like Ken did with his ridiculous tax-payer funded propaganda sheet.”

Strident left-wing paper? His mayoralty wasn’t even stridently leftwing.

Clearly it would be a waste of time going into arguments about why it’s much harder to have a leftwing paper than a rightwing one.

Don’t be surprised at The Standard’s support of Johnson. Just look at it’s past owners and it’s total devotion to representing the interests of the city above all else.

You only have to read Sarah Sands simpering, silly columns in other papers to know that she is a fervent Tory. I thought the ex KGB bloke who owns it was meant to ensure the ES is a proper paper and not a smear sheet as under the previous management.

This is actually a serious problem. The Standard’s readership monopoly and its right-wing, pro-Boris bias is seriously damaging to the democratic process in London. This isn’t like a commercial paper you buy off a newstand where you have access to diversity of opinion – the Evening Standard, by the very virtue of it being given away free in busy public places has an ideological monopoly and there is simply no left-wing counterpart.

It’s a serious problem. I’m thinking of boycotting – anyone up for it?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Rob

    Evening Standard arithmetic: £3/year off council tax is a lot, £4/week off fares isn't, and £250k/year is "chickenfeed" http://t.co/zakOn2h5

  2. TeresaMary

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  3. Boris Watch

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  4. Bibi van der Zee

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  5. Paul Trembath

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  6. Anya Reevell

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  7. Chris Boyle

    Evening Standard arithmetic: £3/year off council tax is a lot, £4/week off fares isn't, and £250k/year is "chickenfeed" http://t.co/zakOn2h5

  8. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris http://t.co/okW9rxSs

  9. Jonathan Watson

    Standard: running against Ken again http://t.co/2hGZco6F < wonder how Sarah Sands will be rewarded after the election? http://t.co/l7hyi3Is

  10. “Will this be my new desk?” Boris Johnson on lookout for sixth job | Political Scrapbook

    [...] sixth job5:16pm Wed March 7thShareTweetAdd a commentWith the Evening Standard’s acting editor throwing her hat into the ring for Boris, it should come as no surprise that he finds himself quite at home in the newsroom.Should the [...]

  11. John McNeill

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  12. Michael Bater

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/9Rx6DNLF via @libcon

  13. Collin Whittaker

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ss7drIgf via @libcon

  14. Simon Watkins

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/9Rx6DNLF via @libcon

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    [...] Liberal Conspiracy observes that the Ailing Standards has snapped back into its default position of supporting Johnson. [...]

  16. Matthew Houlihan

    Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands reveals her bias for Boris as Mayor http://t.co/xHCOcmpw

  17. Matthew Houlihan

    Standard: running against Ken again http://t.co/2hGZco6F < wonder how Sarah Sands will be rewarded after the election? http://t.co/l7hyi3Is

  18. Alex Braithwaite

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/SNB5o8tq via @libcon

  19. Neil Partridge

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WdXKwgBC via @libcon

  20. Elizabeth

    Evening Standard editor reveals bias for Boris | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/NPbthvxQ via @libcon





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