Richard and the councillors

The Cambridge political Twitterverse witnessed a sharp difference of opinion over the weekend as local blogger Richard Taylor was accused of being “a mysogynist” by former city councillor Clare Blair. Here is Richard’s side of the story.

Richard has chronicled Cambridge political life in great detail in recent years, and it’s fair to say that he is generally critical of Lib Dem councillors – but is he more critical of women than men? Google can’t (yet) tell me this, but it can tell me how often he writes about them. I looked at the number of hits on his website for each of the city councillors active in the three years up to the last local elections in May. I should declare here that I’m a former Lib Dem activist, and I don’t always agree with Richard. However, I’m not trying to make a particular case here; I’m just presenting some data.

So, does Richard write more often about female than male councillors? Not according to this data; on average, each male councillor had 155 hits, and each female councillor had 146. However, he certainly does write more about some than others. Here is the graph; make of it what you will!

The data is a little rough and ready; for most councillors I just searched for their surname, but for names like Smith and Brown I searched for “Cllr (surname)” and “(firstname) (surname)”. Also Richard isn’t entirely consistent in his spelling of surnames such as Rosenstiel.

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5 Responses to Richard and the councillors

  1. Pseudomonas says:

    Now, sentiment analysis!

  2. Thanks for looking at the stats!

  3. Dan says:

    Great analysis – thanks Phil. What might be interesting would be some notes about how long each of those councillors have been in office, and if they still are. (I’m thinking about scoring councillor activeness!)

  4. In fact as Cambridge City Council is about 65% male, 35% female I have actually written slightly disproportionately more about female councillors.

    The graph produced by Mr Rodgers shows that I’ve been writing about some councillors more than others. To me it is clear that those I’ve written more about have been more active and have had more significant roles, and if they are male or female or not does not appear to correlate with the number of mentions.

    As some may not know the roles these councillors have held, and why I’ve been writing about them, I’ve commented on the “top ten” identified by Mr Rodgers’ analysis to give my view as to why I’ve written more about them:

    1. Julie Smith : Cllr Smith was the executive councillor responsible for Arts and Recreation (including green spaces) when I was campaigning against mass tree felling and proposals to “develop” Jesus Green and Midsummer Common. She is also a very vocal councillor, and shows more sign of independent thought and argument than most of her party colleagues, hence speaks out and says notable things at meetings. Cllr Smith has a role in national politics as a member of the Liberal Democrat federal policy committee, a few of my references to her relate to that, as well as her bid to become the Liberal Democrat candidate for MP in the 2010 general election.

    2. Ian Nimmo-Smith : Cllr Nimmo-Smith has served as council leader, North Area committee chair and mayor in the time I have been following the council. Clearly all these roles are high profile and will result in regular mentions by anyone commenting on council activities. As council leader Nimmo-Smith signed off “dispersal orders”. My successful campaign against these illiberal orders was a key part of my output for a significant period.

    3. Cllr Rod Cantrill : Cllr Cantrill has served as Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources, and Arts and Open Spaces. He also made a bid to become the Lib Dem candidate as MP. Again he’s simply one of the higher profile councillors.

    4. Cllr Clare Blair : I started following mainly my local North Area committee. Cllr Blair spoke more than any other individual on that committee so I covered that. She then served in two Executive Councillor roles, first Community Development and Health and then Growth and Climate Change. She was also a vocal member of the city’s planning committee for a period.

    5. Colin Rosensteil : Cllr Rosensteil often says interesting/noteworthy things; he served as Executive Councillor for bins for a period too.

    6. Cllr Sian Reid : Cllr Reid is Leader of the City Council (Previously Executive councillor for Climate Change and Growth)

    7. Cllr Lewis Herbert : Cllr Herbert has been leader of the Labour opposition for much of the time I’ve been following the council.

    8. Cllr Tim Bick : Cllr Bick is a ward councillor for Market ward, which includes Jesus Green and Midsummer Common – two areas I write a lot about. He has also been Executive Councillor with responsibility for policing – a subject area I comment on extensively.

    9. Cllr Chris Howell : Cllr Howell, who has now resigned, was the lone Conservative on the council; this made his contributions particularly notable. He often spoke on policing and was instrumental in getting councillors to set police priorities.

    10. Cllr John Hipkin : Cllr Hipkin is an ex-Lib Dem who is now an independent. While he makes less of a contribution now, a couple of years ago he was a prolific speaker at council meetings, particularly on the subject of the expansion of the city – which I’ve written lots about. He was a vocal planning committee member for much, if not all, of the period I’ve been writing about and I also write about his contributions to the West/Central area committee.

    • Phil Rodgers says:

      “In fact as Cambridge City Council is about 65% male, 35% female I have actually written slightly disproportionately more about female councillors.” – I should have made it clearer that the figures of 155 and 146 were per-councillor; I’ve edited the text to make this clearer. The total number of hits was a (slightly terrifying) 4810 for 31 male councillors, and 2328 for 16 female councillors.

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