Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ladies of the left unite

Shortlists put women in Labour hot seats

I co-wrote a story in this weekend’s Sunday Times, after our analysis of Labour’s list of prospective parliamentary candidates discovered that they are on track to go into the 2015 General Election with the largest ever number of women candidates.

This is the result of a drive over recent years to encourage women to stand for election, and a controversial policy of all-women shortlists in many constituencies.

Encouragingly, it appears to make little difference at the polls whether the candidate has been selected through an open process or an all-women shortlist. However only two women have been selected in open contests so far.

Catherine Atkinson, Labour’s candidate in Erewash, Derbyshire, was kind enough to speak to me about her selection.

Full text of the article is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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Scandal of school kitchen hygiene

Mice, ants and mouldy walls in school kitchens

I had an article in last weekend’s Sunday Times after I obtained hundreds of reports from school canteen hygiene inspections from local authorities around the council.

Hundreds of schools were given poor hygiene scores of 2 (“improvement required”) or less; two schools (Sennybridge County Primary School in Powys, and Erith School in Kent) scored the bottom score of 0 (“urgent improvement required”).

Many of the reports made for uncomfortable reading: black mould on walls, broken windows, raw meat stored alongside cooked food, mice infestations, ant infestations, and poor personal hygiene among staff all featured in the reports.

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon chain of restaurants and the government’s new school food tsar, and Janette Wallis of the Good Schools Guide were kind enough to comment on my findings.

The Sunday Times data team created an interactive map for the online version of the story, so look for poor-scoring school canteens near you here. If you’d like to have a look at a report from your local school, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Full text of the article is also available after the fold. Continue reading

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