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When the Observer's 100 leading economists aren't 100 leading economists

By Paul Goodman
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8pm Update: We also have two geography grofessors, two former Labour MPs, one former head of media at the Labour Party, one Labour Peer, one man who does not come up on his university website - and only 98 names (since two have been counted twice).

Further names include:

  • Prof the Baroness Ruth Lister of Burtersett, Loughborough University; Labour Life Peer. She is a Professor of Social Policy, not economics. She lists her academic research interests as ‘Citizenship, gender, poverty and social exclusion, social security, welfare, reform, children and young people’.
  • Prof Ken Spours, Institute of Education; Head of the Department of Continuing and Professional Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.
  • Prof Dave Byrne, Durham University; Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University.
  • Prof Jonathan Rutherford, Middlesex University; Professor in Cultural Studies in the School of Arts and Education department of Middlesex University.
  • Gez Sagar, head of strategy, economy communications centre, HM Treasury (2009-2010); former Head of Media for the Labour Party.
  • Prof Richard Grayson, Goldsmiths, University of London; Prof Richard Grayson is the Head of History at Goldsmiths. He was formerly Director of Policy of the Liberal Democrats and Liberal Democrat candidate for Hemel Hempstead in 2005 and 2010.
  • Prof Paul Thompson, Strathclyde Business School; Prof Thompson is a professor of Human Resources at the University of Strathclyde.
  • Prof Diane Elson, University of Essex, chair UK Women's Budget Group; Prof Elson is in the department for sociology at Essex.
  • Prof Alan Finlayson, University of East Anglia; Describes his specialist subjects as "Political theory, British Politics, Labour Politics, Conservatism, Northern Irish politics, rhetoric, media, communication, poststructuralism, discourse theory, democratic theory, continental political thought, asset-based welfare, cultural theory, cultural studies, interpretive methodologies".
  • Dr Heather Savigny, University of East Anglia; She is a Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia and lists her teaching interests as ‘political communication; popular culture; British politics’.

The Observer declares today that: "A hundred leading economists have made an impassioned call for the government to step back from the brink of a new economic crisis and back a Plan B to save existing jobs and create new ones, amid growing fears of a double-dip recession" - and refers its readers to a letter.

Almost at random, I name five of the signatories:

  • Dr Martin O'Neill, lecturer in political philosophy, York University
  • Dr David Hall-Matthews, senior lecturer in international development, University of Leeds
  • Kitty Ussher, associate, Demos
  • Dr Jamie Gough, department of town and regional planning, University of Sheffield
  • John Christensen, economic adviser and director, Tax Justice Network, London

I apologise to these ladies and gentlemen if they are indeed "leading economists", but matching their names to their roles leaves this title doubtful.  Others will no doubt undertake a full analysis later today.  As those organising such letters have found previously, it's convenient to aim for a round number of signatories, such as a hundred - even if the names don't quite match the claim.