Posts Tagged 'malcolm dean'

Summer time and the reading is easy….

reading in the sunshineSo it’s finally that time of year – sports day is over, the schools have packed up and the morning commute has become a little quieter. It’s the time when people start to kick back and think of flip-flops, exotic destinations and, definitely at Policy Press, of catching up on some much needed reading time.

We decided we’d ask a few of our authors what little gems they were tucking away in the suitcase to read this summer as they jet off for their well- earned holidays…

Danny Dorling’s most recent co-authored book The Social Atlas of Europe has just published, which means his well-earned break should afford him enough time to catch up on a couple of books at least:

Danny Dorling“I plan to read Selina Todd’s The People. The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010. People who have read it say it includes enough anecdotes to be lively and gives the account that has been needed to be written for some time. I also aim to re-read Maud Pember Reeve’s Round About a Pound a Week, published 101 years ago. I recently read Mary O’Hara’s Austerity Bites which reminded me of what had Maud found four generations earlier. I’m going to need something more fun to read as well after all that!” Danny Dorling

Unfortunately for Helen Kara, author of Research and evaluation for busy practitioners, we’re making her slog on through the summer months, so she’s beavering away at the second draft of her forthcoming book ‘Creative research methods’ completed before the autumn.  However she is making some room in her busy schedule for Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel:

Helen Kara“It’s a graphic novel memoir about her childhood growing up in a funeral home and her father’s suicide.  That makes it sound very depressing, but it’s not; some of it is sad, but quite a lot of it is hilarious.  I love graphic novels, they have different rhythms from pure text, and I think there should be more books with pictures for grown-ups.”  Helen Kara

The thoughts of Malcolm Dean, author of Democracy under attack, are never far from the subject of media misbehaviour, and the summer holiday is for him an opportunity to go further into the dark and murky world of tabloid terrorism:

Malcolm Dean

“I’m taking two books this summer. The first is Ray Jones’s The Story of Baby P, which I have already dipped into. It is a forensic documentation of the malign faults of the tabloids, and the readiness of politicians — in this case one from each side, Ed Balls as a minister and David Cameron as the Opposition leader — to fall in line with the populist papers’ pernicious agendas. My second book is Margaret MacMillan’s widely acclaimed The War that ended Peace. History, when I took GCE 49 years ago, stopped at the 14 causes of the First World War. I thought it was time to refresh my memory. My daughter must have thought so too. She gave it to me.” Malcolm Dean

How are we to view the role of the press in Britain today?

Democracy under attack cover

Democracy under attack: out now in paperback

Professor Howard Glennerster’s new foreword to Democracy under attack by Malcolm Dean, publishing in paperback today.

How are we to view the role of the press and the wider media in Britain today?

Does it hold politicians to account or merely scare them into submission? Does it raise issues of national concern or trivialise them? Does it trample on individuals’ privacy or save them from bureaucratic indifference? Perhaps it does all of this but if so what does it do most?

There are plenty of views, individual complaints and an official inquiry underway. But this book is different – a retrospective and carefully documented account by one of the country’s leading journalists of the part the media has played in shaping public and political attitudes to social affairs over the past forty years. Malcolm Dean spent most of his journalistic life writing about social policy, observing politicians at work and immersing himself in the policy process. Here he distils that lifetime experience. It is not just an account by an insider but by a hugely well informed insider, one with a feel for history. He looks back at changes in social policy from the 1960s on and at changes that have overtaken journalism. But above all he looks in detail at the part the media have played in shaping policy on law and order and prison reform, on drugs policy, on child poverty, vocational education, housing, health and social care. He includes the contents of numerous interviews with people others would likely not have reached and includes his own experiences. It is a unique blend. Having been involved in the policy debate myself, and the political process at times too, his accounts ring true.

Dean knows the specific academic literature that underpinned the debates, or should have done, and the day to day interaction between politics and the press room. What we learn is an arresting and sometimes shocking insight into the power of the press to shape the way politicians think and see the issues they are legislating about. It frames their world view.

Some academics have played down the role of the media seeing it as a sounding board at best or a mere form of entertainment or perversion of reality at worst. This is a much more subtle and revealing account. Sometimes the press can be more even handed and well informed than politicians think. They would have done well to show courage, drug policy is one case. In other areas like housing the absence of specialist informed reporting helped take it off the agenda. Working with a well informed press policy can be developed that will win the public over as in the case of child poverty or pension reform. But sometimes politicians are simply scared stiff by what they think the press will say and about how they judge the public will react. These detailed accounts give us all shades of grey and some glimpses of the sun too.

This will be an indispensible read for those wishing to understand the media and the policy process in the United Kingdom whether they are interested in social policy or not.

Democracy under attack is now available for just £7.99 at www.policypress.co.uk

Is the last chance saloon still open?

Malcolm Dean

Malcolm Dean

Exclusive: the first verdict on the Leveson Inquiry from the Guardian‘s Malcolm Dean

‘So, finally the bogeyman has arrived. A regulated press! Government intervention! Stalinism! Precious liberties won through 300 years of courage and eloquence to be forfeited by a panic about phone hacking!’ Harry Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times and the Times, summed up Fleet Street’s response well this morning (30th November) in the Guardian. Written before he even saw today’s edition, it could not have been more accurate. The Sun’s editorial condemned Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for allowing ‘state officials to walk into papers like the Sun and censor stories.’ The Mail‘s headline declared ‘Cameron’s stand for freedom – defiant PM says he won’t back key proposal’. A Telegraph headline was equally upbeat and panegyric: ‘Unexpected decision makes PM a leader in defence of liberty’.

No doubt there were big smiles in Downing Street this morning from such widespread media endorsements. Undoubtedly that was one reason for his veto. Another was the need to pacify his rebellious right wing backbenchers.  So much for Cameron’s pledges that he would support Leveson so long as it had the support of victims and there was nothing ‘bonkers’ in it. His veto broke both his own tests. Add two more to his 37 u-turns. His purported reason, given in Parliament yesterday, was the Leveson plan would cross ‘the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into law’. As one Lib Dem MP noted, he had his waterways wrong: ‘not a Rubicon, barely a brook’.

Leveson rightly insists that he has not produced a statutory system, but an independent system given statutory backing. Leaning over backwards to get the media barons on side, he has left the media to produce a replacement of the hapless Press Complaints Commission. True, he is requiring a rigorous regulator with investigatory powers and severe sanctions, not just a complaints office. But the media had already accepted that. What they have not yet conceded, but which he rightly insists on, is that the industry should not be involved in the appointment of its chair and the board, which should have no serving editor on it, although an ex editor and retired publisher could be. Why legislation was needed was his bundle of incentives to encourage the news groups to join: an arbitration service providing a fair, quick and inexpensive avenue for victims to seek settlements, which would only be open to news groups who sign up. Non-media members would be left to the courts, subject to exemplary damages for not signing up and unable to claim their legal costs even if they won.

The idea that politicians are eager to rein-in the media is a myth. History documents not six but seven reports in the last 63 years demonstrating their reluctance: three royal commissions (1949, 1962, 1977), Younger (1969), Robertson (1983), along with two from Calcutt (1990 and 1993) all producing proposals which governments declined to take up. Stephen Dorrell, media minister in 1993, explained to Leveson why the Conservative government declined to take up Calcutt’s ‘last chance saloon’: the depth of opposition within the media. No change there.

There is no doubt about the public’s support: 82 per cent opposed a self-regulated system under the industry’s control; 79 per cent supported Leveson’s idea of an independent system underpinned by law in a YouGov/Media Standards Trust poll last week. All solicitors and judges operate under a similar system. Finland passed a law in 2003, which provides people with a statutory right of reply and news groups with a duty to correct – yet in eight out of the last ten years the country has come top in the World Press Freedom Index.

Leveson’s Inquiry, eight months of hearings, 650 witnesses, generating 6,000 pages of evidence did a brilliant job of exposing the depth of the media’s shortcomings – both criminal and the seven non-criminal sins listed in Democracy under attack: Why the media distort policy and politics: distortions, dumbed down content, more interested in politics than policy, hunting in packs, being too adversarial, too readily duped, too negative. Yesterday’s four volume, 2,000-word report will make this sorry saga more readily available. It’s not without its own shortcomings: silence on ownership; pretty feeble on the failures of the police investigations; even more feeble on Hutton’s closeness to Murdoch. Not even an easy read with cumbersome sub clauses sprayed everywhere, but undoubtedly on the right line in its proposals.

What happens now? Currently with both Labour and Lib Dems backing Leveson, plus up to 70 Conservative MPs who earlier endorsed statutory support, there is a Commons majority in favour of Leveson. The Government has agreed to produce a draft bill. It believes it will demonstrate the complexities. Meanwhile, there is still no consensus among editors on how independent of the industry the new body should be. Leveson is the eighth report since 1949. Currently it looks as though we’ll need a ninth. Shameful.

Malcolm Dean, is former Associate Editor of the Guardian and founder of Society Guardian. He is also author of Democracy under attack: Why the media distort policy and politics, due out in paperback in March 2013 with new forewords by Professor David R. Mayhew and Howard Glennerster and updated conclusions.

Answers to Malcolm Dean’s quiz

Answers to Malcolm Dean’s social policy and social and demographic trends quiz (posted on November 3rd 2009) are now available below. How did you do?

1. One in five people in the UK are over 60. What was the ratio in 1900?
Answer: 1 in 25

2a. What proportion of women retiring in 2006 were eligible for a full state pension?; 2b. And for men?
Answer: Only 30% of women; 85% of men.

3. There were only 100 centenarians in the UK in 1909.
a. How many were there in 1959?; b. How many in 2009?; c. And how many are projected for 2029?
Answer: 270 in 1959; 12,000 in 2009; 48,000 projected for 2029

4. How much did life expectancy increase per decade in the last century?
Answer: By 2 years every decade.

5. What were the Turner Commission’s three tough options for improving pensions? Which one did they choose?
Answer: In Turner’s interim report the options were: higher taxes; longer working life; increased savings. They chose a combination of all three in the final report.

6. In what way was the Equality and Human Rights Commission, set up in 2007, perpetuating inequalities between the six fields — race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age — when it was monitoring discrimination?
Answer: Initially, in 2007, the EHRC could, where it found discrimination, intervene not just in employment but also in the provision of goods, facilities and services in the first five fields of its remit, but only with employment in respect of age. It was still legally permissible for a pub landlord to refuse an older person a drink on the grounds of age. The 2009 Equality Bill is set to end this anomaly.

7. The UK is still debating whether to abolish a statutory retirement age. Name three other countries which have already done so?
Answer: US in 1967; Ireland in 1998; and Denmark in 2004.

8. Who was Margaret Panting?
Answer: Margaret Panting died in almost identical circumstances to Victoria Climbié, an 8-year old child, who died in 2000 from severe abuse, neglect and multiple injuries inflicted by her great Aunt. Margaret Panting, aged 78, died one year later from similar severe abuse, neglect and multiple injuries within five weeks of being moved from sheltered accommodation to her son-in-law’s house. Victoria’s death generated 303 news and feature stories, 237 of them in the national press. Margaret’s death generated just 5 news stories, only 2 in the nationals.

9. To what extent did inequalities widen during the 18 years of Conservative rule between 1979 and 1997?
Answer: Inequality doubled between 1979 and 1997. In 1979 the post tax income of the richest tenth of the population was 5 times as much as the bottom tenth; by 1997 that ratio doubled to 10 times as much.

10. Means tested benefits increased under both the 1979-97 Conservative Government and between 1997-2009 under New Labour. But how did they differ?
Answer: They doubled under the 1979-1997 Conservative rule – from 17% to 34% of all benefits – which cut public expenditure. They rose under New Labour but increased public spending – through tax credits and pension credit – that were focused on those most in need.

11. Where does the UK come in the 30-member OECD league of developed states in terms of the proportion of the average (male) earnings that state pensions provide?
Answer: Britain is bottom of the OECD league table on state pensions which make up only 31% of average earnings compared to 39% in the US, 43% in Germany, 45% in Canada, 53% in France, 62% in Sweden, 68% in Italy, 80% in Denmark, 81% in Spain, and 88% in Netherlands.

12. When was there a golden age for older people in the UK?
Answer: According to Professor Pat Thane of London University Britain has never had a golden age for older people. She looked back three centuries and found the 1834 report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws noted how civilised nations “and even savages” recognised a duty of care for older people but “we believe that Britain is the only European nation where it (the duty) is neglected.”

Don’t forget, much fuller explanations can be found in Unequal Ageing, buy now for just £13.49 – 25% off the list price – at www.policypress.co.uk.

Win a copy of Unequal ageing

Enter Malcolm Dean’s social policy and social and demographic trends quiz to be in with a chance of winning one of five copies of Unequal ageing. Email your answers to tpp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk by 19th November 2009; winners will be contacted shortly after.

Simply answer the following 12 questions that focus on the effects of social and demographic trends on the well-being of older people. All answers will remain confidential.

1. One in five people in the UK are over 60. What was the ratio in 1900?

2a. What proportion of women retiring in 2006 were eligible for a full state pension?
2b. And for men?

3. There were only 100 centenarians in the UK in 1909.
a. How many were there in 1959?
b. How many in 2009?
c. And how many are projected for 2029?

4. How much did life expectancy increase per decade in the last century?

5. What were the Turner Commission’s three tough options for improving pensions? Which one did they choose?

6. In what way was the Equality and Human Rights Commission, set up in 2007, perpetuating inequalities between the six fields — race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age — when it was monitoring discrimination?

7. The UK is still debating whether to abolish a statutory retirement age. Name three other countries which have already done so?

8. Who was Margaret Panting?

9. To what extent did inequalities widen during the 18 years of Conservative rule between 1979 and 1997?

10. Means tested benefits increased under both the 1979-97 Conservative Government and between 1997-2009 under New Labour. But how did they differ?

11. Where does the UK come in the 30-member OECD league of developed states in terms of the proportion of the average (male) earnings that state pensions provide?

12. When was there a golden age for older people in the UK?

Visit The Policy Press website at www.policypress.co.uk


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates

Archives

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

The work on the Policy Press blog is licensed under a Creative Commons licence.


%d bloggers like this: