Wednesday, April 30, 2008 

Gordon Brown, politics and courage.

There are two rules in modern politics. Whatever you do, don't admit that anything you've done or said has been a mistake, unless it becomes absolutely necessary. If you are forced into admitting you've got or done something wrong, make certain that the word "sorry" doesn't cross your lips, and also, under no circumstances whatsoever do you use the word "lie". Hence Hillary Clinton, who claimed she visited Bosnia under sniper fire, something proved to be utter horseshit, simply "misspoke".

Likewise, Gordon Brown, that most proud of men, never knowingly undersold like the nation's finest department stores, wasn't bandying about such namby pamby stuff as apologising or being sorry for the abolition of the 10p top rate of tax. Let's be charitable though: after all, just a few weeks ago he was refusing to believe that anyone whatsoever would be losing out, triggering the mother of all rebellions led by Frank Field, the man who cares about the hard-working low paid poor, but not so much about those who aren't working who ought to be ushered into the workhouse, although I might just be slightly exaggerating his views on the unemployed and current benefit system.

To digress, Brown admitted that both those earning under £18,000 a year and who aren't eligible for tax credits "weren't covered as well as they should [have been]" and that 60 to 64-year-olds without higher pensioner tax allowance also suffered. This, as the removal of the 10p rate always was without shifting the burden from the poorest to those more than able to pay, is to not see the wood for the trees. As attractive and helpful as the tax credit scheme has been for the lowest-paid, all it has done is to lance the boil, while simultaneously and ironically leaving those who are meant to be working for themselves and not for the state dependent upon it almost as much as they would be if they were out of work. It's the classic example of giving with one hand whilst taking away with the other. Instead of risking the ire of the CBI and small businesses by raising the minimum wage to one upon which it would possible to live on alone, while simultaneously raising the tax threshold so that the poorest pay very little to no tax at all, Brown's final budget as chancellor was the most regressive of his tenure. He and his advisers must have realised this: if they didn't, then both he and they were either incompetent, grasping for a good headline or both. It was spotted almost immediately by the anoraks and those who actually cared, but for almost everyone else it wasn't until the first pay cheques under the changes were sent out that Brown's whacking of the poorest became the scandal it ought to have been from the beginning.

As certain female columnists have spent years banging into us, Brown is for nothing if he isn't for abolishing child poverty and helping the poorest. Even after the supposed u-turn, it seems uncertain whether all those losing out will be in any way compensated, Field and the Treasury coming out with different interpretations of how the help would be dished out. In any event, the bottom line itself is not up for discussion: the 10p rate, a manifesto pledge in 97, has gone and isn't coming back, and neither is the bureaucratic nightmare which is the tax credits scheme. If you're too proud or to confused to claim tax credits, then, well buddy, you can sit and spin. The inequity of this situation is stark: just as the credit crunch bites, a situation created by both bankers and governments living on the never-never and in complete hock to neoliberal dogma, the faceless cleaner that mops up the sweat and tears from the floor of the concrete conurbation in the centre of London pays a higher proportion of a tax than the testestorone fuelled junkies they wipe up after.

Chris at Stumbling and Mumbling offers a solution to the whole sorry mess: raising the personal tax allowance by £1,200, while putting 7 pence on the highest tax rate. It is though, like almost all the worthy proposals which deserve to be policy but are likely never in our lifetime to be, a fantasy. The right-wing press would howl, the CBI would bleat, the Financial Times would scream, and the Tories would, along with the tabloids,soon have everyone convinced that they would be the ones being clobbered, just as apparently many now fear that they were about to be/would have been hit by the 10p rate abolition. Like with so much else that Labour could have done had it been led by someone truly radical instead of just a radical centrist, the time to have done so was back in 97, when the original pledge on the 10p rate was made. It would also require courage, something that Gordon Brown can write about, but which it seems he doesn't actually himself have. Actually, that's unfair: Gordon does have courage, but it's the courage to ignore the opinion of those who actually know what they're talking about, and to instead give in to the most hysterical moralist campaigners in the land; it's the courage to shaft those cushy prisoners from getting an extra pittance this year; and it's the courage to try and buy off Grauniad readers with a "listening" scheme that will be just as centrally controlled as all the previous ones were, a day before the local elections. When it comes to having genuine courage, the magnanimous sort which allows an individual to admit they were wrong and also that they are sorry for being wrong, Gordon simply doesn't have it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

 

Scum-watch: Diverting the blame.

Everyone knows by now that the reason Rupert Murdoch and every single one of his newspapers the world over supported the Iraq war was not because he had even the slightest feeling for the suffering of the Iraqi people, or because he felt that Saddam and his "weapons of mass destruction" were a threat, but because he, like some others at the top of the Bush administration, had been sold the lie that the stealing of Iraq's oil would result in a massive drop in the market price. This was always going to be a fallacy, but few predicted that five years on, rather than the price of oil being $20 a barrel as Murdoch hoped, that it would be six times that.

It would be nice therefore if Murdoch's newspapers took some responsibility for why petrol is now around £1.10 a litre or more, the cost of diesel hovering around £1.20. It was their belligerent and still unrelenting support for the war and also for Tony Blair that helped seal our involvement in it; making it impossible for them to blame the war and the consequent instability in the region for the current all-time high.

Naturally then, the government gets all the blame:

Meanwhile, oil companies — AND the Government — are awash with cash as billions in windfall profits and VAT swamp their coffers.

To make matters worse, Chancellor Alistair Darling wants to turn the screw with yet ANOTHER 2p a litre increase in October.

The taxman stings us for 66p in VAT and fuel duty for every litre costing £1.08 — already a fading memory.

That’s highway robbery.

The Government now faces a re-run of the fuel protests which struck terror into the hearts of ministers eight years ago.

If Mr Darling has any sense, he will stop torturing voters.


As the Sun more than knows, the government is not awash with cash. At the same time, if the Treasury moved to impose a windfall tax on the likes of BP and Shell and their unprecedented first-quarter profits, the Sun and the Murdoch press would be among the first to be squealing at such shocking intervention and injustice. Then again, the Sun was hardly going to hold its hands up and say to its readers, "we're sorry, we're part of the reason why you're suffering so much", was it? Far better then to throw all the blame on the government, and not the speculators, the war or those notoriously easily offended Saudis.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

 

Minor blogging transgressions.

Interesting to note tonight that one of Paul "Guido Fawkes" Staines' seen elsewhere links is to a Labour candidate arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. Strangely, he's found no space to report on his own transgressions:

Off to the rack with him! The waspish Westminster blogger "Guido Fawkes", who is devoted to making life uncomfortable for political trough-guzzlers, joins his historical namesake in finding himself at the sharp end of the legal system.

Lobbyists, aides and parliamentarians from all sides of the Houses – particularly those with something to hide – will be delighted to learn that the famously thirsty troublemaker, real name Paul Staines, was up before the beak at Tower Bridge Magistrates Court last Thursday.

He admitted driving while under the influence and without insurance after being stopped by the Plod in the small hours of 17 April, driving his wife's Volkswagen fast and swerving across lanes in south London. He was breathalysed and found to be almost twice the legal limit. Asked by District Judge Timothy Stone whether he had an alcohol problem, Staines said: "Possibly."

Sentencing is on 15 May. It is his fourth alcohol-related offence and second drink-driving reprimand – he was banned for 12 months in 2002 – requiring the judge to consider a jail sentence.


Seems to be little chance of this also being mentioned in his comment sections - which are most assuredly on moderation. Still, at least it seems unlikely he'll have to worry about this for much longer.

Labels: , ,

Share |

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 

Political biographies and Lord Levy.

In a world in which ever more thoughts are expelled, and the written to the read ratio drops accordingly, it's curious how the book publishers continue to inflict ever greater crimes against literature on the public at large, even when it seems apparent that it will be simply impossible to recur the original outlay in sealing the deal and providing the advance when the contents are likely to be of interest to only the dullest, most anal and self-hating of individuals.

My point could be about the cross-spectrum of banality provided by sports stars, the cacophony of crying from the misery memoir writers, the vacuousness of self-absorbed celebrities who describe themselves as journalists for writing a column about being a professional clothes horse and beach-dweller, but at least the aforementioned three are guaranteed to sell more than a couple of copies. The same can't be said for the political memoir, no longer confined to those who reach the very top and stay there, and just might have something to contribute towards history, but to the increasing number of acolytes that also make the grade. In recent weeks we've been treated to John Prescott admitting that he was putting his hand down more than the one orifice we've already been alerted to and Jonathan Powell, one of Blair's chief adviser's reminiscing over the Northern Ireland peace talks, a worthy subject for sure but not one which really told us anything new.

The collective nadir appeared to have been reached with the self-indulgent diaries of David Blunkett, who had nothing whatsoever to say but decided instead to wallow in his own misery. There's nothing especially wrong with doing that, but his justifications and blaming of all his woes on everyone other than himself, especially when he played the media for all it was worth and continues to do so rightly rankled, and the book was the biggest and most deserving of flops.

With the memory of that in mind, it's hard to fathom exactly what Simon and Schuster were thinking in giving Michael Levy, aka Lord Levy, the chance to write his autobiography and, more pertinently, his own account of the "cash for peerages" scandal. Never the most sympathetic of figures, especially when he and others resorted to claims of anti-Semitism because of the level of criticism and speculation directed towards him, he has the added problem of despite being Labour's chief fundraiser under Blair of by no means being one of the former prime minister's chief confidants. Even the title sticks in the throat, almost mockingly titled "A Question of Honour".

The excerpts from the Mail on Sunday's serialisation may not represent the overall tone, but it seems as if in lieu of actual juicy material, Levy has decided to take his revenge not just on those he felt were out to get him because of his connection with Blair, but also the Blairs himself and his apparent cooling towards them, whether because he felt Downing Street didn't provide enough support in his hour of need or not. Levy relates anecdotes about Blair receiving long massages from Carole Caplin, of Cherie's conflict with Anji Hunter, and his eventual disappointment with Blair "just being in it for himself", as though Levy himself also wasn't. It also wasn't his idea to seek loans and he didn't want to do so, but was pushed into doing so by Blair, Matt Carter and Alan Milburn. Doubtless the offering of a "K or a P" was also not his idea, but someone else's also.

The main vindictive streak though is certainly left for Gordon Brown and others sensed to have slighted him, with him quoting Blair calling Brown a liar and viewing him as duplicitous, both qualities which we know for certain neither Blair nor Levy have. He also suggests that Brown did know about the loans, something that we know almost for certain that he did not. Similarly questionable is his claim that Jack Dromey, Labour's treasurer went public with his concerns over the loans after they were first revealed in a bid to damage Blair and shore up Brown, which if true would have been inflicting a wound on the party as a whole, not just Blair, something that Brown, would had so many opportunities to wield the knife but never did so was loth to do. The biggest wound though is undoubtedly Blair's other suggested conversation with Levy which suggested that he didn't believe that Brown could win against Cameron, something denied by Blair's camp. For those allegations to come at the same time as Brown is in such difficulties, even if they are mostly of his own making and just a few days before the local elections makes it all the damaging and all the less forgiveable for someone already fabulously wealthy to be once again cashing in as he did so often in the past for others.

The Guardian's leader on Levy's comments finishes by saying that Levy isn't the problem but that the funding system is. That lets both Levy and Blair completely off the hook. Levy didn't have to go along with Blair's urgings to get loans, even if that was the case. It omits any responsibility on either of their behalf for the curious coincidence of four of those who had made loans subsequently being nominated to receive a peerage. The Crown Prosecution Service may have decided that there wasn't enough evidence for anyone to be charged under the ancient act brought in after Lloyd George's selling of honours, but that hardly clears him or Blair of impropriety in full. Levy's behaviour undeniably brought the whole system into disrepute, creating a stench of corruption that will only be dispersed when all parties agree to a system, a deal currently being blocked by the Conservatives wanting to destroy Labour's link with the unions, a move that would force it to rely on the very individuals who got it in such a mess in the first place. His profiting from his role is the scandal is typical of both a man and a party which has become just as shameless in pursuit of power and wealth as all those before them.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Share |

 

Scum-watch: Going soft on immigrants, but not on "Town Hall Hitlers".

In another sign of the Sun's increasing move towards something approaching liberalism, at least outside of the criminal justice system, here's a surprisingly positive leader on immigration:

THE vast majority of immigrants are decent, law-abiding people — whichever country they come from.

They work hard, claim few benefits and are grateful for what Britain has to offer — not just in higher pay and better conditions, but in friendship.

In return, most Brits are hospitable and ready to make room for well-behaved newcomers, as long as they play by our rules.

The experience of Polish builder Piotr Szepsel and his wife Anna is typical.

The couple have mixed in with neighbours and made many new friends. Piotr is a regular at his local pub and an avid Arsenal fan.

The couple work all hours to keep their heads above water, pay their taxes — and refuse to accept welfare.

Now they want to stay and raise their baby daughter, Anastazya, as a British citizen.

They are a credit to their own country — and to ours.

WE benefit from their skills and industry. THEY gain from a country which is genuinely tolerant to its migrant communities.


Now, as patronising and emphatic as it is on how immigrants must assimilate and not rock the boat by bringing any funny ideas with them, not to mention the insolence of considering claiming any benefits, can you seriously imagine a similarly mostly positive editorial in the Mail which didn't have a sting in the tail, let alone the Express? Undoubtedly, one of the reasons why the debate on immigration has become "deracialised" as Trevor Phillips said is because the latest wave has been, to use a Greg Dyke quote completely out of context, "hideously white". It's not because race itself is no longer an issue, it's because race is at the moment not involved in the discussion, or only is at the very periphery, for example in the hysteria over "Fagin's Heirs", where the Roma were wrongly implicated, or as the tabloids refer to them "gipsies". Fittingly, those who will be hit by the government's points system and restrictions now coming in will be the non-whites, while the eastern Europeans will continue to be able to come and go as they more or less please.

Some of this current approach could be linked back to Murdoch himself: he might be a stupendous hypocrite on most things, but even he realises that he can't get away with bashing immigrants too much, although "foreigners", especially the French, still get in the neck regularly. It would be nice to think that the Sun is perhaps reflecting its readers more accurately than some of the other press, but going by the reactions on MySun whenever immigration is mentioned, although hardly representative, that seems unlikely. It could be related to James Murdoch's appointment as the overseer of the UK News Corp business, as he's known to be more liberal than his father, having convinced him of the virtues of going green, but he's certainly no less tenacious over the BBC, as evidenced by his pathetic bleating about the iPlayer. The most compelling explanation though is that Wade and those around her are figuring out exactly where they want their paper to sit, still assuredly on the right, but not as stuck in the mud as the Mail and Express, moving with the times as those two inexorably age.

Don't be fooled though. The Sun can still be just as unpleasant, idiotic and over-the-top when it needs to be or when Murdoch's own interests are threatened. The signing of the talk radio blowhard Jon Gaunt and the giving of a column to the executive editor Fergus Shanahan ensures that all those bases are still covered. Shanahan's column today is typically boneheaded and offensive, a poor Richard Littlejohn-esque knock-off, tarring all councils with the same brush by using the example of one-offs, such as the man convicted for not having his bin shut and the family spied on by the local council using the powers under RIPA (not anti-terror legislation, as news organisations continue to misleadingly claim), finishing with the flourish that a vote for the Tories is the best option because "at least... you know they are desperate to impress". Those desperate to impress are always the best people to put in charge.

Oh, and not to dwell too long on the on-going Madeleine madness, but the Sun's incredibly one-sided account, which could only have been produced with direct cooperation with the McCanns, has this charming break in the middle of it:

For most of the last 12 months Kate McCann has been the embodiment of suffering — her face wracked with the unbearable agony of a mother whose child was taken to an uncertain fate. The slideshow pictures below show her pain, month by month.

Here's someone suffering - and you too can gaze on 12 different pictures of them doing so for no other reason than voyeurism. Lovely. Some things are set to never change.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, April 28, 2008 

Ashley and Hillary.

Jackie Ashley opens her ball-breakingly familiar column with this paragraph:

There can't be a lot that cheers Gordon Brown over his morning porridge, but if he turns to the foreign pages he might ponder the Hillary effect. In Hillary Clinton, we see a politician loathed by a big section of the population, written off, jeered at, ordered to leave the stage, who, by sheer dogged determination - and by fighting, not quitting - has not only managed a comeback but earned grudging respect.

Well, that's one perspective. There's a different view of Hillary - an individual who's past their sell-by-date, who can't possibly win the popular vote, and whom by sticking around way past when they should have given in is only causing possible irreparable damage to their wider party, especially by resorting to cheap and nasty tactics while her opponent is dignified and respectful by comparison.

Now who does that remind you of?

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

 

Kill your middle-class indecision.

This, along with the John Prescott bulimia story, almost seem like extremely late April Fools:

Middle England is dead, long live midBritain. The publisher of the Daily Mail, long considered the house journal for middle England, has coined the term in an attempt to rebrand what it considers the "offensive" and "outdated" stereotypes associated with its core readership.

This isn't of course the Daily Mail rushing to the defense of its readership. It's instead rushing to the defense of itself.

The results of the group's research, published today, claim that rather than being "old fashioned, narrow-minded and conservative", such people are "interested in others' opinions", are "influential, engaged and vocal", and worry about the economy and the environment. They have a high level of disposable income and are the "ultimate consumers with the power to make or break almost any brand".

Which only goes to prove that when it comes to making yourself look better to researchers, people will say anything. Again though, this isn't about the Daily Mail's readership, it's the Daily Mail saying to anyone and everything, look, you fuck with us, we control these people's minds and we, make no mistake, will fuck you up.

The most distressing "fact" though has to be this one:

Having established that 47% of the population are so-called midBritons

We really are doomed.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

 

Madeleine: the never-ending story.



You wait ages for more stories about Madeleine McCann to fill the empty stomachs of both newspaper editors and the few, still voracious readers that can't binge on them enough to arrive and then three come along at once.

Actually, let's just rewind for half a second. Is there really anyone still out there that isn't so sick of the sight of Madeleine, her parents and also Clarence Mitchell that they'll purposefully not buy any newspaper or watch any channel featuring yet another redundant article or pseudo-documentary on the three of them? In the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the idea of being able to wipe someone completely out of your memory is treated as though it would be a bad, bad thing - trying telling that for example to either the stalker, or indeed, the stalkee. I, and I suspect a large number of the population of this poor, benighted septic isle, would quite willingly pay inordinate amounts for a service which destroyed the receptacles which contain all we know about Maddie, Kate, Gerry and all in sundry. I try my best to continue to feel something approaching empathy for the couple, who despite everything that has happened, have lost a child through absolutely no fault of their own, but as the days tick by and the headlines still come, the narrative long since lost, I can't be the only one who yearns for them to just go away.

The McCanns are victims on two fronts - not just that their daughter has been taken from them, but that the media, in all its forms, has exploited them and wanted to use their every sweat and tear drop for their own purposes. The ambivalence of not knowing where to apply the blame, and blame, as always, is vital and an important part of the story, is that the McCanns themselves were the ones who were the first to use others. Their motives were impeccable, but publicity, which is what they thought might deliver their daughter back to them, also threatened to scare whoever took her into taking to ground, if "he" hadn't already disappeared for good. It was a risk worth taking, but it was also one that started the fire, one which to this day is still alight and burning just as fiercely as ever.

It seems doubtful that even they could have foreseen that the disappearance of their daughter would be used to beat every dead horse that could possibly be struck. Swarthy foreigners, paedophiles, bent and incompetent bumbling police officers, open class prejudice, down to today's most ludicrous and possibly weakest Madeleine front page splash ever, the deplorable Daily Star's "MUSLIM SICKOS' MADDIE KIDNAP SHOCK", an article which doesn't seem to have been republished online, which details "extremists" chatting amongst themselves of how the McCanns themselves might be responsible, something that the Daily Star seems outraged about purely because they had to publish a front page apology and pay the McCanns £500,000 when they did it for months on end, all have been brought in, attacked and condemned, usually without even the slightest evidence to back up their claims, the only link between them being churnalism and keeping a story going for their own purposes. Lionel Shriver, in an excellent piece, comes to a conclusion few will disagree with:

In the case of Madeleine McCann, the British media has frequently elevated the requirements of fiction over the truth. As a consequence, a grieving couple's loss of their daughter has been made even more agonising than it had to be. Indeed, this last year's over-the-top Maddy-mongering has to go down as one of British journalism's most shameful instances of cheap, cavalier opportunism - of its greater commitment to a "good story" over the accurate one.

Words that feel all the more poignant, published just a day before the Sun launches 3-days worth of what can only be described as flowery bullshit, with "Maddie: A year in the darkness". Just today, the paper is dedicating a whole 12 pages to this special in mock empathy. The emptiness of the words that open this dirge are worth quoting:

WITH one momentous sentence on May 4, 2007, the Associated Press broke one of the biggest news stories of modern times.

Almost exactly a year on, it continues to fascinate and horrify. To send chills down the spine of every parent. To turn us all into armchair detectives harbouring pet theories on what really happened.

Its complexities, moral and forensic, are still talked about in every home, office and factory, and in every newspaper.

None of us had heard of Madeleine McCann until she was already gone. But we feel we know her now.

To see pictures of the face we will never forget, click on the slideshow below

Since last May, millions of words have been written about her disappearance and the continuing torment of her parents Kate and Gerry. In three Sun specials this week, JOHN PERRY sorts the fact from the fiction in the most complete account to date.


This the very worst of journalism. In fact, let's not dignify it by calling it journalism. It isn't. It's emotional pornography, the act of someone who should know better doing the equivalent of jerking the reader off, telling him or her what they think they want to hear rather than making them employ the use of their brain for half a second. There is only one previous event that resulted in trained, well-educated individuals turning out such mawkish, sentimental nonsense, and that was the death of Princess Diana. Diana's death occurred before the full takeover of the 24-hour news cycle, before the full advent of the internet and all that has entailed for individual participation, but even then it was noted that her death resulted in it being flooded with the very worst that it encourages and provides a platform for: the conspiracy theorists, the cranks and those who can shout the loudest when they ought to just shut up.

Perhaps the Sun's front page and its special signify more about their and everyone else's response to the case than even they realise at face value. "Her harrowing story" it screams - harrowing? Really? It's harrowing purely because of the spin that they've put on it; it seems, in retrospect, as Shriver notes, almost ordinary. Little girl goes missing, her fate unknown. Harrowing for the parents maybe, but for Madeleine herself? Not necessarily. The opening paragraphs of their story give the game away even further, "to send chills down the spine of every parent"; fear sells, as the self-same newspapers ever shrieking about predatory paedophiles when children are most likely to be killed or abused by those known to them, especially their close family know all too well. We want to lock terrorists up for 42 days and plan endlessly to thwart attacks, yet being killed by a terrorist is far beyond the odds of winning the lottery, with dying from a hospital superbug, or even more likely, in a car accident, is something which is far less, well, sexy. The title itself, Madeleine: a year in the darkness works both ways: we don't know what happened to her, but then neither do those who have wrote about her; they've been literally working in the dark, shamelessly slandering anyone and everyone, all in the name of pursuing sales. It doesn't matter who's been caught in the crossfire: the ends justify the means. £500,000 from the Express, which went too far, is probably small beer off what even those two gutter rags earned from their reports. Robert Murat, another individual caught in the crossfire after a tabloid journalist, who might just have a degree in the humanities instead of psychology or anything that might have justified her turning her petty suspicions into open accusations reported him to the police, has launched his own libel action against all of the tabloids and also the Scotsman. It's hard not to think that he'll deserve every penny that he might receive.

It's not even as if today is the first year anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance: rather, it again seems that this is the media trying to outdo each other, either the Sun or the Mirror responding to each other's respective exclusives, the actual date still being 3 weeks away. The Mirror's headline is "Sometimes We Feel Like Giving Up". Excuse me if I'm wistful that either they, the newspapers, or indeed I actually did do that. Then again, maybe there is a glimmer of light in another, genuinely harrowing story, the one that broke yesterday in Austria. The Sun is already on the case, asking MySun contributors how they would punish a man not yet convicted of any crime.

To come back to Shriver again, she also writes:

Journalists have to remain committed to keeping reality intact, even if the real story is flat.

This is an almost utilitarian, noble view of what journalists are supposed to do. As this blog and countless others have noted time and again, this is simply not what the British press does. It sensationalises, it distorts, it lies, and it's done it for a very long time. Say this to them and they scream of censorship and press freedom, yet it's those very notions that the press brings upon itself by its actions. They complain of a liberal media, as does some right-wingers, of a sort of conspiracy between the BBC and the Guardian that somehow governs the country and controls what can and cannot be said. It's a hysterical fantasy, but it's a beguiling one, much like their very coverage of the Madeleine McCann case. Some thought that the libel actions against the Express would have brought an end to the rapacious, scurrilous coverage, but it hasn't. There's still newspapers to be sold and money to be made, and little things like accuracy and compassion don't enter into that. The crocodile tears will continue to be shed, and getting a grip or a perspective has long been cast out, to be shunned for evermore.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Share |

Saturday, April 26, 2008 

Commerce dressed up as rebellion.

The Grauniad says in a leader praising Rock Against Racism:
It is difficult now to remember just how powerful and acceptable racism was in 70s Britain, when the National Front was a threatening presence and Margaret Thatcher could come to power complaining about the country being "swamped" by immigrants.

Yep, things
really have changed.

Far more interesting is just how timid the majority of new bands are on the issues which once did fire such passions back in the 70s. Partly this is because of the corporate monopoly which the music industry has become, with just four major companies now controlling the vast majority of record labels. This allows for some intransigence on the level of Green Day writing such vapid but mainstream protest as American Idiot, but certainly not on the level that it once might have been. It's a sign of just how comfortable and conservative most have become when the biggest social protesters are such rich cretins as Bob Geldof and Bono, urging everyone other than themselves to dip into their pockets,
while in the latter's case they avoid paying tax and sue someone to retrieve a pay of trousers.

You could also point towards how "indie rock" especially has become the middle classes' opiate of choice, about as challenging as Soma itself. When the NME last year launched its Love Music Hate Racism campaign with a free CD, about the only people who contributed towards it who might have actually encountered racism were the execrable Lethal Bizzle, Roll Deep, MIA, and Bloc Party's Kele Okereke and Matt Tong, the rest of the line up made up of the working class but abysmal Enemy, with the rest being British "indie's" current wave of middle class mediocrity. The opposing view is that the Clash, one of the bands that were instrumental in the setting up of Rock Against Racism and in the fight against the NF etc in the 70s, were also all middle class kids, unlike the working class but manufactured Sex Pistols.

Perhaps the real reason though is that the bands themselves are actually just reflecting their own peer groups - those who might buy a "Make Poverty History" wristband, in the most overrated, pointless and hopeless corporate campaign ever, and who care vaguely about climate change, hence the ludicrous Live Earth concerts of last year, epitomised by Joss Stone who told the audience to change their light bulb to a low energy one and to plant a tree and that everything would then be fine - but who are actually the most apathetic and apolitical generation that we've known. Bloc Party's Uniform sums it up, as perhaps Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit previously did a decade before:

There was a sense of disappointment as we left the mall
All the young people looked the same
Wearing their masks of cool and disinterest
Commerce dressed up as rebellion

The crowds will turn out tomorrow at Victoria Park, they'll be some tedious old-hat sloganising, riffs will be played, those so inclined will spend the night in beds other than their own, and just as before, nothing whatsoever will change.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

 

They've never had it so good.

It would be reasonably easy to write an entire post debunking the curious idea, fast gaining in popularity, that some prisons resemble holiday camps. Some others have done just that, and the Grauniad recently published a day in the life of both prisoners and guards which hardly confirms the view, but there's just one point that ought to blow down the whole house of cards.

If the journalists (and Glyn Travis) writing these reports are so certain that a prisoner's life is one of pleasure rather than extreme boredom and overwhelming insecurity and fear, how about they swap their actual holidays in the sun or wherever with a stay in one of her majesty's finest? It'd make for a great feature piece, would settle the argument once and for all, and could well lead to fundamental changes in the prison system if their accusations turned out to be to sound.

Any takers then?

Oh.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

Friday, April 25, 2008 

Scum-watch: Backing Boris.

While I was away the Sun came out for Boris. The Tory Troll offers his thoughts on Liberal Conspiracy.

Not to get too deep into this, or to indulge too much in Sun Kremlinology, but as we know because he's told us, the Sun wouldn't have come to the decision to back Boris without Murdoch himself giving the OK. On the surface, it's a no-brainer: Livingstone and the right-wing press have in the past, and right up to the present day in the Evening Standard's case, had a relationship akin to that of Tina and Ike Turner. They hated him, and he hates them even more, even though he's taken money off both the Standard and the Sun in the past by writing for them. Boris might be a buffoon, but he's an buffoon that'll sell newspapers, is the Troll's view.

The decision is interesting from my perspective because as previously noted, Murdoch doesn't necessarily support the candidate that has the most in common with his own views, he supports those who are going to win, and who are least likely to affect his business interests. The two are also inter-linked: Murdoch gives support, leader/party ensures that nothing untoward happens to his interests, hence why Blair so viciously shot down anyone who dared to squeak against the Sun or otherwise. Johnson, however, is certainly not the dead cert that Blair was in 97 when the Sun, after being the most Thatcherite of Thatcherite papers, became the most Blairite of Blairite papers. Indeed, today's latest poll shows that Ken has gone back into the lead.

Murdoch's reasoning seems to be thus: if Johnson wins, and does well, then it will be a perfect springboard for the paper to then put its weight behind Cameron's Conservatives, who up until recently both he and the Sun have mostly either ignored or put down. If Johnson wins and does badly, then it'll help inform whether he duly does decide that the Conservatives are worth supporting once again. If Ken wins and Murdoch and the Sun end up with egg on their face, then it doesn't matter on the scale that it would if the Sun backed the wrong side in a general election. As always, whatever happens, Murdoch wins, and we lose.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

 

Sex addict in promoting virtual sex shocker!

Continuing with the churnalism theme, you just have to love the family-values Associated Newspapers giving even the slightest space to someone who has something else to sell other than her story of sleeping with 50 different men after setting up a group on Facebook:

A woman says she is a Facebook sex addict and has slept with 50 men she met through the networking site.

Laura Michaels, 23, set up a group called "I Need Sex" on the site.

She invited men to contact her and those whose picture she liked, she met up with.

Within 10 minutes the group had 35 members and soon attracted 100 men, 50 of whom she slept with.

Who knows, Michaels' story might just be true. It surely can't be a coincidence however that there's another Laura Michaels, aged 23, and from Bristol that has an even more personal home page than her one on Facebook, as noted by the increasingly must-read Churner Prize:

I am 23 and I live in Bristol, England. I've always wanted to have my own website, so this is like a dream come true. Not only can I interact with you guys, I can also get down and dirty and let everyone see... which I have to admit is big fun. I have a great Freeview section where you'll be able to get a taste of what my Member's Area offers. You'll find hot pictures, full-length video clips and much, much, more. I hope you enjoy it. Laura xxx

All those desperate to find Michaels and find out if they too can gain access to her drawers, not to mention those behind her more hardcore offerings who doubtless set this train in motion, will be pleased to know that a Google search leads directly to her porn site first and the Metro article second.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

 

Scratch my leg with a rusty nail.

Once upon a time, your humble narrator felt that a career in journalism would be a wonderful idea. So much so that he applied to take a BA in journalism at university, and was meant to take up his confirmed place, only to decide not to due to previously discussed ill-health. To come out of the third-person, I had much the same dreams as probably most of the others at 18 have when they decide to take a degree in journalism: I wanted to muck-rake, scream about injustice to a wide audience, generally shake things up, in that teenage, upper-sixth right-on spirit of combustion yet to be strangled just after birth by cynicism and reality.

As you can probably tell by the fact I've been writing this sad glorified open diary for almost three years, I haven't entirely abandoned some elements of that dream. If I had taken that course I would now be fast approaching the second anniversary of my graduation, and more than likely be now either unemployed or installed at the very lowest rung of the journalistic ladder: thrashing out churnalism for a local paper, writing copy about young footballers or the opening of a new shop, the amazing success of a charity event, or if I was really lucky, about a pensioner being mugged for their fish and chips, earning a pittance while not having a minute to breathe or to actually do anything approaching what I would have been taught during my 3 years of relative instructional tranquillity.

Strip away the sexiness and glamour of the select few that make it on a national stage, which in itself is about as a sexy as Rod Stewart and as glamourous as Jodie Marsh, and no bones about it, being a journalist is really ignoble, irredeemable, and ultimately unrewarding work. In actuality, this is deceptive: by direct comparison to "showbiz" and "entertainment" journalism, local journalists are among the veritable salts of the earth, providing a service that many would miss horribly were it to suddenly disappear. If the entire staff of Heat, Closer, and all the rest of the gossip mags and newspaper equivalents were to be found dead in their beds tomorrow, it wouldn't be a time for sadness and reflection; it would be time to declare a national holiday that would easily surpass St George's Day in popularity, and what's more, it would be genuinely British, unlike the mythical Palestinian. The Mysterious Death of the Scum Day, decreed as a bank holiday by the Supreme Leader himself.

How better to illustrate why no would mourn the sudden death of the paparazzi and showbiz hacks than today's Mail (and Express) front page, featuring one of the few snatched snaps which doesn't have Billie Piper with her top off, with the paper implying that Piper might be pregnant. Not that it has any evidence whatsoever that she is with child; it just thinks she may be because her stomach looks slightly bloated and because she's patting it. This is the sort of thing which is the meat and potatoes of such hackery: female celeb looks slightly more rotund than usual; she's pregnant or becoming a porker! Female celeb looks like she's lost a slight amount of weight; she's anorexic! When there's no stories of celebs shagging each other to fill the front pages of Heat etc, this is just what they fall back on. When the Daily Mail, a supposed newspaper, has nothing better than to splash such bilge on its front page, it's just undeniably tragic of how far journalism in this country continues to fall.

The press do have unpleasant form in this area for either getting it completely wrong or breaking the news before the individual themselves has told anyone. Anton Vowl relates the recent story of Lisa Marie Presley who had to admit to being pregnant after the Mail accused her of getting fat. Back at the beginning of last year, Charlotte Church complained to the PCC after the Sun published reports of "rumours" about her being pregnant, rumours which it knew for a fact were true because Church's PR had told them after they enquired about it. Their request was that they not print it until Church had been for her 12-week scan and her doctor said that it would be OK to tell her family and friends, due to the risks of complications or miscarriage. The Sun instead printed the "rumours" anyway, with the PCC adjudicating in Church's favour:

The Commission has recently made clear that newspapers should not reveal the fact of someone’s pregnancy before the 12 week scan without consent and when the information is not known to any significant degree. The newspaper’s defence in this case was that it had merely reported rumours that the complainant was pregnant because of a change in her behaviour. But the newspaper had provided no evidence of any rumours, and had not denied that it had known for a fact that she was pregnant when it published the piece. In these circumstances it seemed to the Commission that the newspaper had simply tried to circumvent the privacy provisions of the Code by presenting the story as speculation. This was not acceptable within the spirit of the Code. The complaint was upheld.

Similarly pathetic and intrusive behaviour is in evidence tonight involving Amy Winehouse, who is becoming one of those being serially offended against. This time however it doesn't involve the usual suspects but the usually above the fray BBC. On the Ten O'Clock News a reporter had the pointless task of standing outside a police station, informing the nation that La Winehouse was inside and apparently not likely to be questioned until the morning because she was currently "not in a fit state" to be interviewed. Why he needed to be there if that was the case, why the report was on the news at all, and why anyone other than the most sickening obsessives care that Winehouse had been arrested in the first place are all questions that the BBC or anyone else for that matter will never be able to answer adequately.

Nick Davies' conclusion in Flat Earth News is that his profession is one that is rotten to the core, not because the majority are corrupt or lazy, but because a distinct minority that have all the power and the loudest voice are. The same could be said for vast layers of numerous professions, but few of them have such a role in informing and educating as the fourth estate does. The saddest thing is that most of even those that are rotten are not so out of choice; they too had the same dreams I did, but are either slaves to their editor and what's expected of them from their news organisation as a whole, or slaves to their bank balance, or, in an even smaller minority, their snorting habits. Cynicism shouldn't really enter in to it: the reality when you open your eyes is enough to want to journalists and all those, including myself, to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Instead we shall continue with ever more glazed over and despondent expressions.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, April 21, 2008 

Hiatus.

Being dragged away for a few days. Should be back on Friday.

Labels: ,

Share |

Saturday, April 19, 2008 

Getting the freedom of speech balance right.

There's little doubt that Abu Izzadeen, also known by his rather less exotic moniker of Trevor Brooks is an odious, rabble-rousing racist determined to stir up trouble and hatred. In his involvement with al-Muhajiroun and its successor organisations, which have now become so disconnected from the original group that's it difficult to know exactly which is still active and which have been abandoned (its current incarnation might be Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah), there's little doubt that he's been involved in radicalising individuals that find such an all encompassing and explanatory ideology both attractive and easy to understand. His conviction for funding terrorism quite clearly shows that he cared little for the innocents, disparagingly referred to as the "kuffar" that are inevitably caught up in the attacks that take place in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which is presumably where the money was heading.

What I'm not convinced of is that his speeches at the Regent's Park mosque, apparently recorded and which extended to up to 5 hours, for which he was convicted of inciting terrorism, ought to have broken a free society's laws protecting freedom of speech. The excerpts which have been released and transcribed are inflammatory, condemnable, offensive and in some places laughable, but not in my personal view ones which should be considered so dangerous as to warrant over a four year sentence. While the jury would have seen everything unexpurgated, very little of what was said which we have been allowed to see is outside the norm of jihadist propaganda easily available on the web, and when compared to some of the anti-Muslim hate which far-right blogs and anti-jihadist sites carry, it even seems to be somewhat on the mild side. This is in no way to justify or apologise for what Izzadeen and others like Simon Keeler stand for or indeed argue for, but these are the sort of individuals who appear to be potentially more dangerous inside prisons, where it is next to impossible to suitably monitor their activities, than they are outside, especially when they, like many of the other hot-heads out there, have no intention of personally carrying out the threats which they find it so easy to make. They leave that to the others that are more easily moulded and whom don't enjoy the sound of their own voice as much, as the judge himself pointed out in Izzadeen's case.

That's why it's so difficult to take the manufactured level of outrage in the Sun over Brooks "only" getting four and a half years, not apparently noticing that he also received two years and three months for funding terrorism. Brooks' hatred was nowhere near on the levels of the speeches given by Abu Hamza, who received 7 years, which makes it all the more tedious for the paper to be making the point that he could have been imprisoned for "life", a sentence which in other circumstances it also sneers at. The ultimate risk from cracking down too hard on such rants is that it spills over into the grounds of prosecuting on the basis of offence rather than because the views expressed are dangerous; while that hasn't happened yet, it's a potential worry, especially when such sentences are condemned as being "soft".

I could well be wrong, and some will argue, with some justification, that not prosecuting those such as Brooks doesn't just leave all of us in danger, but that it especially leaves Muslims themselves open to reprisals, or to the claims of others that they're not doing enough to condemn the agitators in their midst. The one bright side is that there seem to be increasing numbers of those formerly involved in radical Islam turning against their past doctrines and going public, helping others also to mend their ways. Rachel reports that Attila Ahmet, one of those recently sentenced for soliciting murder and the self-styled "emir" of the "paintball jihad" group, has apparently renounced his radicalism in Belmarsh, and has been moved to the hospital wing as a result for his own protection. Anne Owers, the prisons inspector, recently praised the imams at Belmarsh for their work in countering radicalisation, the opposite of what some tabloids had been claiming was taking place. His example and that of others like Hassan Butt show the way forward, but imposing ridiculously harsh sentences for questionable rants, as well as further extending the detention limit for "terrorist suspects" will only make their good work all the more difficult.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Share |

Friday, April 18, 2008 

Imagine... imagine... imagine a story....

It's difficult to even begin to imagine what was going through the mind of Angela Smith MP yesterday. Perhaps she was laying there in bed on Wednesday night, tossing and turning, thinking about the meetings she's had with her constituents, rereading the letters in her head from those who've previously loyally voted Labour that were not angry, but just bitterly disappointed with how they'd been betrayed by a supposedly socially democratic government over the removal of the 10p top rate of tax, feeling disillusioned with how her own party was taking from the lowest paid and giving to middle earners just as the economic weather has turned. Resigning would have been extreme, and damaged the government as a whole, but it would have been highly principled and could, just could force a change in the policy, unlikely, but vaguely possible. Most of her spineless colleagues would have thought this over, finally fell to sleep and then would have dismissed it in the morning, like most do those bizarre, foolish ideas that tend to plague you in the middle of the night and then instantly regret even thinking up. But no, she would be strong, and go through with it!

It's even more difficult to begin to imagine what was going through her mind when she suddenly decided that she wasn't then going to resign after all. It's easy to see government as an extended family, Smith as the disobedient child, having told Cooper, her furious, snarling, teeth-gnawing mother, the corners of her mouth already flecked with spit, that she was going to quit. "You better well phone up your father Gordon and tell him then!"

And so she did. Quite what Gordon, away in Washington on important business, told her that reassured is even more difficult to imagine. It certainly wasn't the news that they weren't going to go through with the tax rate change after all. The terse, through gritted teeth statement, so obviously spin doctor scripted, saying that Gordon had convinced her that the government's anti-poverty agenda remains unchanged even while 5.2 million will be losing out, just made an embarrassing situation even more mortifying. Perhaps the real reason she rowed back was because Gordon had threatened to have her sent to Siberia. It's more a convincing explanation than Brown winning her over with the sheer power of his argument. From standing up to her parents to making even Clare Short look dignified all within 24 hours, not even Armando Iannucci could have imagined it.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

 

Migrants stole my baby part three.

Unity attempts to get to the very bottom of the whole migrant crime statistics controversy, and while even by his standards it's lengthy, it's well worth reading in full just to realise how fraught and difficult it is to even begin to be able draw conclusions from the data currently available. The only solution to this is for the government and the police to bang heads together and come up with a proper, easy to understand system for identifying the origin of those charged with offences, not just arrested or connected with "crimes solved". We might be waiting a long time.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

 

Scum-watch: Septic isle betrays our heroes!

Not to come over all self-referential, but I can't help but be delighted by the headline the Sun's chosen for gor blimey merchant Jon Gaunt's latest column:


More than happy to oblige.

While we're here, we might as well deal with this blatant lie from Gaunt:

Do you remember when the illegals and the bogus asylum seekers set fire to their modern detention centres because Sky TV was turned off? Yes, you do.

But do you hear the liberty campaigners of this world moaning when our troops live in rat-infested barracks? Of course you don’t.

Yes, I do indeed remember when those "illegals and bogus asylum seekers" rioted when Sky was turned off; not because they were suddenly being deprived of Murdoch's wonderful programming, but because the report they were watching just happened to be on the conditions in, err, their detention centre. Anne Owers' report on the Harmondsworth detention centre found that it was:

being run with a regime that is as strict as any high security prison, with those facing deportation victimised by staff and some strip-searched and temporarily locked in solitary confinement, according to the chief inspector of prisons.

Anne Owers says that the privately-run removal centre, which holds 500 men facing deportation at any one time, has slipped into "a culture wholly at odds with its stated purpose" since a riot took place in 2004.

The prison inspection team says it had serious concerns over the way Harmondsworth was run by United Kingdom Detention Service, with 44% of detainees reporting they had been victimised by staff and 60% saying they felt unsafe in the centre.

More than 2,000 failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants pass through Harmondsworth each year and those interviewed by the prison inspectors described the custody officers as "aggressive", "intimidating", "rude" and "unhelpful", especially towards those who could not speak English.

The chief inspector says the centre is run "with a disproportionate emphasis on security" with a high use of force and with rules and systems that "would have been considered over-controlling in a prison, let alone a removal centre".

So forgive this liberty campaigner if he doesn't cry crocodile tears for the plight of our brave heroes who aren't being held against their will or treated in anywhere near such a fashion as those at Harmondsworth were.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

Thursday, April 17, 2008 

Migrants stole my baby part two.

You can tell just how much the Grauniad's report yesterday on how migrants have not brought a crime wave with them and how, unsurprisingly, they're not committing more offences than anyone else overall has wound up the Daily Mail and Express by the vehemence of their response today. Along with the recent immigration report by the Lords committee that, despite tabloid coverage, concluded migrants had on the whole not significantly benefited or been detrimental to the country, the crime angle is the one sure fire hit which they can rely upon to really fire minds against the current immigration policy, with their impact on public services and negligible use of benefits following closely behind. For it to blown apart just as they appeared to be getting the upper hand could not possibly be tolerated.

Hence why both have come out all guns blazing. The Express leads with "IMMIGRANTS BRING MORE CRIME", which is patently untrue as the report has already made clear, but more interesting is the Mail's account of how the Guardian report supposedly came to fruition.

The liberal Left had been right throughout, and the influx of one million eastern European migrants in less than four years - contrary to the claims of some chief constables - had created little pressure or trouble.

The source was good. A report by the Association of Chief Police Officers, prepared for the Home Secretary, had reached this firm conclusion.

Except it had done no such thing. The report itself, leaked in full yesterday, bore no relation to the BBC or Guardian headline claims.

"EU accession migrants are continuing to present challenges across a range of policing activity," reads one paragraph.

There are "notable changes in crime patterns, including extortion, 'dipping' [pick-pocketing], human trafficking and a growing sex trade", warns another.

Most curious of all, there is not a single mention of a migrant crimewave, let alone about one being "unfounded" or a "myth".


Did it really bear no relation to the BBC or Guardian headline claims? Let's go back to the Guardian's report:

The report says: "While overall this country has accommodated this huge influx with little rise in community tension, in some areas sheer numbers, resentment and misunderstanding, have created problems." It adds that the immigration from eastern Europe has been different to previous arrivals, because it happened much more quickly. The report says that new migrants may be more likely to commit certain types of offences. Polish people are linked to drink-driving, and problems have arisen in central London with some Romanian children being used by adults to commit petty robberies.

There are also problems with people trafficking and exploitation, but while these may be more likely in some migrant communities, other types of offences are less likely to occur.


Well that's strange then, isn't it? The Guardian report did mention nearly all those things that the Mail now reports, just in a different fashion, considering that the Guardian didn't have access to the full document which the Mail and Express now apparently have. The easy way to sort the whole mess out would be if us lower mortals could also get access to the full report, but it seems for now that it'll remain confidential. The Grauniad has also expanded slightly on its original points in today's follow-up:

Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire, who co-authored the study, said: "Migration has had a significant impact on UK communities in past years, but while this has led to new demands made on the police service, the evidence does not support theories of a large-scale crime wave generated through migration.

"In fact, crime has been falling across the country over the past year. Cultural differences such as attitudes to offences like drink-driving may exist, but can be exaggerated.

"The influx of eastern Europeans has created pressures on forces in some areas, including local rumour and misunderstandings fuelling tensions which police have had to be proactive in resolving, and leading to significant increases in spending on interpreters, which can also make investigations more complex."


Back to James Slack's analysis of the original Grauniad report:

Even if accurate, the coverage would have begged several questions, not least who had claimed there was a migrant crimewave in the first place?

Hmm. I wonder who could have done such a thing?

The influx of Romanian migrants has led to an explosion in crime in this country, it emerged last night.

As recent members of the EU, Romanians have had free access to Britain only since January 1.

Yet in the first six months of this year, police say, they were responsible for 1,080 offences.


This is from the Daily Mail, 19th of September last year, written by.... James Slack. The Daily Express also claimed in January that "migrants send our crime rate soaring", which as Fahy points out, they haven't, as crime overall has dropped by 9%.

Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Julie Spence - whose intervention last year was the report's spur - had warned of pressure on her local force, and problems with sex trafficking and eastern Europeans drink driving.

Neither she nor any other respected critic had suggested the new arrivals were committing disproportionate levels of overall crime (indeed, it is widely accepted - not least by the Daily Mail - that the vast majority are here to work hard).

What is true is that the migrants are as likely to be arrested by the police as a British citizen, but - when this happens - consume more resources by virtue of speaking little or no English.


Gosh, could that "the Daily Mail line" be anything to do with the Federation of Poles complaining about the Mail's coverage? Obviously Slack isn't including himself or the Express as respected critics, as both, as we have seen, claimed that new arrivals were committing disproportionate levels of overall crime, the Express claiming that crime by migrants had soared by 530%.

Rather than debunking the Guardian's original article, all Slack is doing is actually confirming that its story was accurate. He agrees that migrants are no more likely to commit crimes than the average British citizen, which was the Guardian report's main point. Where the Grauniad erred slightly was that it didn't put enough emphasis in how when arrested migrants obviously use more police resources, and translation costs therefore come into the equation, something that the report makes clear, but it can hardly be blamed for not doing so when it didn't have the full report in front of them, especially considering that their source was Peter Fahy, the co-author of the report, who should himself have communicated that robustly. In any case, today's follow-up contains a lengthy quote dealing with just that from Mail's favourite police officer, Cambridgeshire's Julie Spence. Its fears that the Guardian's report would affect the extra money the police were asking for from Jacqui Smith today when they met her were also unfounded; new funding was promised.

For the Daily Mail and especially James Slack to be moaning about the Guardian slightly misreporting an important study is the height of chutzpah. Such has been Slack's record in distorting figures and baiting and switching that you can't take a single article he's ever written seriously. This blog and others have on numerous occasions recorded the Mail and Express scaremongering, churning and in some cases downright lying about immigration. It ought to come down to trust; do you regard the Mail or Express to tell the truth or be more accurate about immigration, knowing their track record, or do you overall regard the Guardian, or any "broadsheet", or the BBC to do so? Opinion polls on trust on individuals and organisations in public life show that it's overwhelmingly the latter.

Speaking of lying, to bring it back to the Express, here's how it justifies its "IMMIGRANTS BRING MORE CRIME" super splash:

IMMIGRATION from Eastern Europe has led to a huge surge in crime, police chiefs will tell the Home Secretary today.

Oh, so the report doesn't say that then, there's no evidence whatsoever to back it up, but it must be true because "police chiefs" will say so. Then there's the blatant exaggerations of its content:

The damning report will be presented to Jacqui Smith in a key meeting, at which many chief constables will demand extra funds to cope with the effects of Labour’s open-door policy.

In an alarming message, the report warns: “EU migration has brought with it a huge surge in the exploitation of migrants and organised crime.”

...

The findings provide yet another devastating sign of the pressure Labour’s immigration policies have had on our towns and communities.

Which just goes to show that you really can make black into white and white into black.

Elsewhere, 5cc clarifies further the claim that 1 in 5 crimes in London are now committed by foreigners with figures from his own freedom of information request.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Share |

About

  • This is septicisle
profile

Links

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates