The Distiller

Friday 24th November, 2017

Today’s UK headlines, summarised and analysed.


Good morning

Brief overview: The Budget is still front page news, as various think tanks predict the UK is in for a dismal economic future.

Outside of the headlines: Mugabe’s successor is to be sworn in to office later today. Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to become the next president of Zimbabwe.

The article in question. Source

The Sun’s ‘Muslim Problem’ article, written by Trevor Kavanagh, has been cleared of any wrong doing by IPSO, the board on which Trevor Kavanagh sits.

Cartoon of the day:

Peter Brookes

The Daily Mail

Owned by: Daily Mail and General Trust, owned by Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere

Editor: Paul Dacre

Political leaning: Right / far right

Daily circulation: circa 1,490,000 (10 million views per month from personal computer and 20 million from mobiles)

Brexit stance: Pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Gridlock UK

Drivers are facing up to six minutes of delays for every mile they drive, the Mail reports today. Unsurprisingly, the slowest areas to drive through are cities, where the average speed in Square Mile was 6.9mph. The paper quotes experts who believe this is due to the increased traffic on the road and underinvestment in infrastructure.

Afterthought: Interestingly Hammond included £340 million in his Budget yesterday to be spent on electric cars in a move to counter the emissions put out by diesel vehicles right now. If it makes you feel any better, look at this traffic jam in LA as people leave the city to head home for thanksgiving.


The Daily Telegraph

Owned by: Telegraph Media Group, owned by Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay

Editor: Chris Evans

Political leaning: Right

Daily circulation: circa. 460,000

Brexit stance: Pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: May bid to break Brexit impasse

In a meeting with Donal Tusk, Theresa May is rumoured to be prepared to raise the Brexit divorce bill in a bid to move past its current block. This comes after May fought a tough battle in her Cabinet to secure support from key Brexiteer figures, the paper writes. Both Johnson and Gove remain adamant that “any enhanced financial offer must be conditional on Britain getting a good Brexit deal”.

The Telegraph goes on to say that “the EU will not expect Mrs May to name a figure at this stage, but wants details on exactly what Britain is prepared to pay for.”

Afterthought: Credit where credit is due- Theresa May has stepped up in the last week and finally started to lead her party and the country towards achieving a Brexit result. Let us not forget that Theresa May is at heart a remain-voting MP, tackling a problem she didn’t vote for that is so poisonous even Boris Johnson has backed off running for PM for fear of having to deal with it.


The Times

Owned by: News UK, Rupert Murdoch’s company.

Editor: John Witherow

Political leaning: Centre right

Daily circulation: circa. 446,000

Brexit stance: Neutral / slightly pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Adverts fund paedophile habits

YouTube is once again back on the front pages, after it emerged that some of the videos on the site “show scantily clad children” which have attracted comments from hundreds of paedophiles. The videos, which are monetised (meaning they have paid for adverts played before or during the video), have been pulling in millions of views in some cases, as YouTube’s algorithms push similar content in the ‘suggested’ bar.

Afterthought: Let’s unpack this, because papers reporting on YouTube always take lazy shortcuts which is a bug-bear of mine. Mainstream media’s often vague and incorrect reporting on YouTube costs the creators, many of whom have launched careers on the site and use it for their sole source of income. I’ve run a YouTube channel for six years, so I have some background knowledge on this issue.

First, some important stats. Around 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, by accounts all over the world. More than 5 billion videos are viewed per day on the site. Their is an automated flagging device YouTube are trying to get to work properly (often it get’s it wrong, but it’s learning). If you see a video you don’t like, you flag it and a human reviews it.

YouTube has struggled to monitor the quality of the content uploaded onto its servers; in the early months of this year the Wall Street Journal vaugely reported on YouTube advertising policy, and triggered what was dubbed the ‘AdPocolapse’. Following the WSJ’s reporting, advertisers pulled out of the site on masse, and many creators saw their revenues plummet despite having done nothing wrong.

Yes, YouTube has serious issues and their algorithm needs sorting ASAP. However, blindly attacking YouTube as the bad guys and labelling the site as some sort of pedo-haven is both unconstructive and irresponsible.


The Guardian

Owned by: Scott Trust Limited, run by a board with a policy of non-interference.

Editor: Katharine Viner

Political leaning: Left

Daily circulation: circa. 161,000

Brexit stance: Anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: UK facing ‘lost two decades of wage growth’

Yesterday we discussed how important the post-Budget analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies would be in shaping the successful narrative of Hammond’s budget- today we see why. Workers are to expect “an unprecedented two lost decades of earnings growth and many more years of austerity”, the IFS reports. The paper reports that the Budget makes for “pretty grim reading”.

The IFS flagged various issues in its analysis, including:

· Borrowing will be £12bn higher in 2021 than it was forecast in Hammond’s Budget in March

· Average earnings are set to be £1,400 a year lower in 2021 than forecast in 2016.

Afterthought: The IFS analysis does not make for a fun read.


The i

Owned by: Johnston Press, whose CEO is Ashley Highfield

Editor: Oliver Duff

Political leaning: Centre

Daily circulation: circa. 264,000

Brexit stance: Neutral

Today’s leading headline: Biggest fall in living standards for a generation

Similarly, the i reports that we are in for a fall in living standards. It reports that this is the longest decline since records began.

Afterthought: The paper also notes that productivity is at its weakest level since the Napoleonic wars.


The Daily Mirror

Owner: Trinity Mirror. Its chairman is David Grigson, formerly the chief financial officer at Reuters

Editor: Lloyd Embley

Political leaning: Left

Daily circulation: circa. 716,900

Brexit stance: Anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Head alert

The Football Association has launched a probe into the potential correlation between heading footballs and dementia “at last”. At least 375 former players have the condition, the paper reveals.

Afterthought: This investigation follows a similar one over the pond in the NFL between playing American football and getting head related conditions.


Financial Times

Owner: The Nikkei, which is based in Tokyo.

Editor: Lionel Barber

Political leaning: Centre

Daily circulation: circa. 193,211

Brexit stance: Neutral/slight anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Centrica rings profit warning over US woes and UK ‘collective switch’

Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, warned yesterday that their profits may suffer after its worst single-day stock market loss. The company has also lost 823,000 domestic customers — 6% of its customer accounts, prompting its shares to fall by over 13 per cent.

Afterthought: 823,000 customers decided to leave the company after it raised its prices, despite Theresa May reassuring the population that the big energy companies would do no such thing.

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