Pollsters, Pilates and the politics of labels

  • 17 November 2016
  • From the section UK
Emily Maitlis

This morning, a throwaway phrase stopped me in the middle of a stomach crunch.

It was during a (liberal, elite) Pilates class - when our (gay, Australian ) teacher addressed the (white, female) participants with the words "Right now girls...".

I think I am breaking no confidences when I say that not one of us in the lesson was aged 11 or under. We were all in our thirties. Perhaps forties. Who's counting?

But I heard the world "girl" and wondered if I should give it a mental rap on the knuckles. Then I realised something that startled me - that I loved being a girl in that class, with all the connotations of youth and stamina and perhaps flexibility it endowed. Ironic, really, that that was the moment the stomach crunch died on me.

Unless I am in Sheffield, the land of my childhood, where everyone still calls everyone else "ducks" (plural, as in "Aright, ducks?") - a term of endearment I never ever want to lose - then I am referred to as a woman. By respectful colleagues, strangers, commentators and the High Street.

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Donald Trump, the Snapchat president?

  • 15 November 2016
  • From the section UK
Donald Trump holds up a Donald Trump mask Image copyright Getty Images

The imminent Trump presidency throws up a hundred column ideas a day. So I feel I'm not done here yet. But one of the questions I keep returning to is this: Will he do what he said he would do? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It is, it's fair to say, an unusual predicament to be in as a journalist. Normally, holding our elected officials to account means ensuring they stick to their pledges.

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US election 2016: What time should I go to bed?

A woman with a US flag sticker on her face Image copyright Getty Images

The good news about a US election night - or the disappointing news if you're hardcore - is that they are normally pretty fast.

If there is a decisive victory we should know the result by around 04:00 GMT (23:00 EST). Obama's first election in 2008 was done and dusted by 04:30 GMT (23:30 EST).

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Paul Auster on US election: 'I am scared out of my wits'

Media captionPaul Auster on US election: 'I am scared out of my wits'

On a gentrified street in Brooklyn, in a neighbourhood where steps are still strewn with Halloween pumpkins, we knock on the door of the novelist Paul Auster, one of New York's most cherished writers.

He opens the door himself, and invites us in - an hour early in our enthusiasm. We begin to rearrange his immaculately placed sitting room furniture into something that resembles an interview setting.

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US election 2016: Who says you can only vote once?

Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images

The first time I heard Donald Trump in Colorado call on voters who had already voted to go back and vote again, I nearly fell off my chair.

And to be fair, he was telling them in a state where anyone who tried to do so would probably be arrested, or at least stared down. He told his crowd of supporters to do that because - he said - the votes would not be properly counted. His line throughout this campaign has been that the system is skewed against him and that he would be cheated out of a win.

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US election 2016: A nerd's guide to the polls

Voters casts their ballots in the primaries in Illinois, Chicago Image copyright Getty Images

"Warning!" boomed the voice in my aeroplane headphones. "This election contains adult content. Passengers should be advised."

"That's sensible," I thought. "Yes, they really should send out a warning. It's been shocking."

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The FBI man who 'doesn’t give a hoot about politics'

James Comey Image copyright Getty Images

The poor dog seems to end up with the FBI costume every Halloween. But this year it somehow seems a bit more apposite - although try getting a hound interested in an email scent and you'll be there a long time.

In the US, Democrats are queuing up to condemn the politicisation of one James Comey, the FBI Director who once declared he didn't "give a hoot about politics". But he has now become embroiled in the most stinking political row - and what's curious is that Republicans are starting to question his actions now too.

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Cold-calling America - my 12 year-old son tries polling

Hand written polling notes
Image caption Who will win? My son has been conducting his own telephone polls

I haven't even made it to America yet but my head is full of its electoral maths after two days working out Donald Trump's potential routes to power on the BBC's giant election touchscreen. We have a calculator button which is great fun and highly useful for the innumerate among us. It imagines the way a candidate can get to the White House once they've lost a big swing state along the way.

What's already clear is that Clinton - on current poll projections - has many ways of getting there. Let's call it a five-lane highway. Trump's path is pretty narrow - more of a country lane - and almost automatically fails without either Florida and Ohio/Pennsylvania. It's tight.

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Handing back to Allegra

I have handed back the reins of the Newsnight political editorship to Allegra Stratton, who has returned from maternity leave and will be blogging the latest stories from Westminster.

But you'll still find me presenting Newsnight some nights of the week.

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No-notice Ofsted inspections: Who said what and when?

On Monday's Newsnight, Ofsted chief inspector Michael Wilshaw told us he had called for unannounced inspections when he first took up his post, but that the Education Secretary Michael Gove had rejected the idea because of concerns among head teachers.

Cue a furious response from the Department for Education, who said Mr Gove had never been a roadblock and Sir Michael had made a mistake.

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