I’ve always been the tiniest bit jealous of economics journalists, and not just because they get to breeze into the office mid-afternoon following a lavish lunch in the city.
The reason I look on them with envy from time to time is that when economic hacks do manage to make it to their desks they get to work with real numbers. Real data.
Away from election time we political correspondents have to make do prodding a wet finger into the breeze. Not very scientific.And yet it’s not fanciful to talk about political stocks rising and falling. The rating that the Westminster “market” gives individual politicians fluctuates every bit as much as the share price of a footsie 100 company.
Imagine what a graph of David Blunkett’s last 18 months would look like.
But how to measure these fluctuations? That is the real problem.
Any informed political observer knew that Charles Kennedy’s stock had been on the slide since the Liberal Democrat conference in September, but the only way to report this was to re-tell off-the-record briefings and conversations.
If only we’d had some actual numbers to crunch.Well, now we have – at least for one politician.
Thanks to Newsnight, Gordon Brown will have his own index, The GorDaq.
Over the course of the year it should be able to tell us whether the Chancellor is getting any nearer his goal of replacing his neighbour at Number 10.
The GorDaq has been designed in conjunction with Professor Colin Rallings of Plymouth University.
We’ve asked experts in media, politics, economics and public opinion to feed into the process.
As with any index, the GorDaq begins at 100, but which way will it go next?
As the economics journalists say, the data necessary to resolve such a question is not yet available and before an accurate and statistically valid assessment can be made, further research will be required.
Those long lunches must just fly by.
David Grossman’s report can be seen on Newsnight at 10.30pm on Monday 9 January, 2006 on BBC TWO.