Monday, 13 February 2012

Does the Standard have a trust problem?

Is the Evening Standard back to its old ways? Last month this blog highlighted a few examples of where the Standard appeared to be slipping back into its pro-Boris groove, whilst not being as hysterical as it was under its previous owners.

The picture since isn't looking much better. As Adam Bienkov pointed out, Boris' pledge to bid to run outer London rail services received a significantly higher level of coverage to a near identical pledge from the former mayor.

Meanwhile, Livingstone was recently accused by the Standard on two occasions of being a reactionary homophobe - quite a spectacular turn around for a man that the right-wing press has castigated for being a leftie-liberal for the last two decades.

The latest YouGov poll gives Boris the same lead that both Comres and YouGov gave Ken a few weeks ago and provided the Standard with the chance to demonstrate further where its sympathies lie. Obviously the topline figures were useful - Boris ahead, hence a nice headline opportunity. No real story there. But it is the selective way in which the paper reported the detail that is telling.

On three out of four key issues Ken is favoured by voters - by 15-16 points on addressing the cost of living and on improving transport - and he also leads by a smaller margin on job creation. Johnson, meanwhile, is marginally ahead on dealing with crime.

However, the Standard chose to focus on a supposed 'trust deficit' that they argue is costing Livingstone support. It is true that one aspect of the poll shows that 44% thought he could deliver his (popular) pledge to use TfL surpluses to reduce transport fares, not far ahead of the 40% that did not.

But they chose to omit one small problem with this contention, which is that exactly the same poll showed that Ken was trusted by more voters than Boris to deliver his pledges across the piece - with 47% trusting Livingstone to implement fulfil his campaign pledges overall against 45% for Johnson. Worth noting too that the online edition of the Standard chooses not to display the results to this question.

It will be a close race, and the impact of the Standard will continue to be influential - at this rate, it seems likely that it will choose to pursue a path of soft support for the Mayor, whilst steering clear of the ridiculousness of the paper during the 2008 elections

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