Just before Christmas, I wrote a blog about the way that media-driven myths were driving government policy and political debate, for example on the issue of immigration. If you need a reminder you can read it here, but first I recommend you read this brilliant expose of one paper’s lies and myths about the so-called wave of immigrants heading our way from Bulgaria and Romania.
Written on the British Influence website by medical journalist Jon Danzig, formerly of the BBC, it takes you line by line through the way a Mail story works, ‘facts’ twisted or possibly invented to suit the pre-ordained line of the story, and then a refusal seriously to engage when a reader like Danzig tries to challenge the basis of the story. He is now trying to get redress from the Press Complaints Commission (still clinging to life thanks to the press’s obstructive tactics post Leveson) on the grounds that the PCC Editors’ Code commits to reports being accurate. Good luck on that one Jon. They will probably come back saying that as you are neither Romanian nor Bulgarian, and not named in the story, you cannot seriously have been offended, so they cannot properly assess your complaint. Don’t forget that Dacre was a key player in the making of the Editors’ Code, as he is in the Leveson obstruction plan.
Danzig has performed a valuable public service, and as the so-called mainstream media does very little to challenge the myths, and instead prefers to go along with them, we need more rebuttal services like this online. It is difficult for me to do this myself, as I refuse to allow the Mail in the house, and if I step outside 1, I will get wet because it is raining again and 2, I will probably be mugged by a Bulgarian or Romanian.
It’s time that some categories of media article had to be backed up by confirmation within the text re their accuracy and interpretation, quotes from named officials (or their job titles) that the output is true and unbiased (and essentially that it has been properly understood and is honestly conveyed by the writer).
It’s bizarre that so many people seem to enjoy being wound up by various rags. A quick google revealed on its first screen two articles on the same recent day, one from the Guardian that ‘over 40,000’ children living abroad are supported by UK benefits while the Telegraph described it as ‘nearly 50,000’.
Does a working parent receiving WTC for a child still in their country of origin really amount to the child ‘being supported’ by ‘us’ or does it simply mean the parent receives a tax-free allowance for them in their earnings as any other UK worker would (in hopes of it being passed to their guardians)? Isn’t that altruism on UK’s part?
Another google around hmrc docs on the topic of non-UK citizens’ entitlement if not working through sickness or unemployment states that children need to be living in this country for the non-working parent to receive support for them. Given that so many hmrc docs are :
……. complicatedˈkɒmplɪkeɪtɪd, consisting of many interconnecting parts or elements; intricate, full of synonyms:complex, intricate, involved, convoluted, tangled, elaborate, impenetrable, knotty, tricky, thorny, serpentine, labyrinthine, tortuous, cumbersome, Byzantine, Daedalian, Gordian; confused, confusing, bewildering, baffling, puzzling, perplexing, difficult to understand, above one’s head;fiddly; involuted, complex, intricate, involved, convoluted, tangled, elaborate, impenetrable, knotty, tricky, thorny, serpentine, labyrinthine, tortuous, cumbersome, Byzantine,Daedalian, Gordian ……. ooops am on repeat …….
how many journalists should we suppose even bother trying to untangle them?
They don’t even have the algorithms at the disposal of Civil Servants (and by all accounts those ‘rolled out’ recently under IDS’s management are worse than useless anyway!).
We are talking of the DM here Michele – that is all they are interested in is stuffing the heads of middle class wives full of bull, those that are getting by well now that is, the golfing widow types, their rag stuffed full into their brains. That is the secret of their success Michele, the D female w%&nk, sorry, M…
I doubt many women buy the Wail themselves, I read it at my grandparents but always thought it was potty-minded.
The late Gwyn Thomas, author and playwright, said of his landlady when he was a student in Oxford in the early 1930s – “She talked to me as if her head was stuffed full of Daily Mails”. True quote that.
Gwyn on Parkie, with his views, blowing hot air over anyone too close. Remarkable character the short tubby taffy fella was, God praise him.
Killer Thomas his pupils at Barry Boys Gram used to call him, due to his partiality to the hats and coats he tended to wear, making himself look like an Italian gangster, imported from Chicago, or some south side or other…
DM must have thought they could get away with spinning an extra long yarn there, due to them thinking that almost all the population would have their senses distorted by New Year’s booze, plus subsequent hangovers.
But what they seem to forget that many don’t go in for that sort of thing, and due to the time of the year, have plenty of spare time on their hands to study more closely the latest episode of BS from DM.
Or those journos that did the article were plastered themselves at the time, and couldn’t help coming out with UKIP-type bar flied garbage.
Serious question here Alastair – are seriously creative people being driven out of successful employment by the staleheaded numbnuts, them using modern technology and golf coursed clubhouses? It is well know that the talented are bullied by thick prats to get them out of the way for promotion for themselves.
Discuss, I suppose I should say now.
We are a ficked up country. Our PM has a first from Oxford, they tell us, but he seems thick as pig shit. What is going on friends?
Hello again everyone. I had grown bored of this blog because Alastair blogs so infrequently these days and is also slow to update comments, and has not displayed several of my messages.
But I thought today was a good day to come back and discuss matters Labour and electoral.
Labour are promising to:
1. Bring more competition to banking – I support this, even if I don’t think Labour’s means are perfect, the cap is particularly stupid, but it’s better than the ‘leave well alone’ strategy of the Tories which is no good because things are not ‘well’.
2. Clamp down on energy companies. Again their method is stupid, but yet preferable to doing nothing as the Tories will.
3. Build more houses. Unfortunately I am 100% certain that they have no intention of carrying this out, they could neither get elected nor re-elected if they did. Thatcher won. She turned this country from a majority working class renting nation to a majority middle class homeowning nation. She permanently destroyed any real left wing in this country. The biggest factor keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, or entrenching the difference between haves and have nots, is high house prices, and increasing house prices. But even guardian-reading, bbc-watching, labour-supporters are now majority middle class homeowners so there is no way to get elected if you reduce the prices of houses, even though that’s the right thing to do. So it won’t happen.
4. Legislate for a balanced budget. I have said since 2010 that Labour needed a law that limited public spending in some way. Well done. This makes them electorally credible.
I now think Ed Miliband is fulfilling the high hopes I once held for him. Given the difference between a phoney right winger, and a real radical left winger, who still believes in capitalism and is actually demonstrably more keen on fixing capitalism to the right kind of competitive capitalism that works for people, I am minded to throw my lot in with the latter.
The spanner in the works is the London riots of 2011. I thought Cameron and Boris were utterly utterly feeble. We should have had the army on the street on the first night, as we would had we been attacked by this amount of foreigners ie enough to overwhelm the police. We should have done what George HW Bush did after the LA riots, ie give people a chance to redress any grievances, and to peacefully protest, but in the meantime use the army to prevent loss of life and terrorism of ordinary decent folk.
Ukip said on thursday that they would put troops on the street the minute that happens.
So I think I want a Labour-Ukip coalition! 🙂
Alright reaguns? It’s been a while. Happy 2014, by the way, well belated.
And oh yes, what troops reaguns? There’s hardly any left. They should have been called out for the recent floods, especially on the Somerset levels, but we don’t have any going spare, and they are becoming less. Perhaps we need to do a recruitment drive in Bulgaria and Romania, and pay them pennies…
And Labour would knock spots off this shower we have at the moment. The Coalition (if you can call it that!) are clueless.
Certainly the past two or three months has seen Labour go way up in my estimation. I think I would go as far as to say these policies mean that Cameron can no longer even think about winning just because “he is not Ed Miliband’.
Even Peter Oborne has came out and praised Ed Balls, saying that the Tories should not have taken down the 50p rate and that reduction of taxes should have been taken by taking people out of the 40% bracket.
Peter Oborne is such an enigma.
It’s nigh on impossible to predict which side of the fence he’ll come down on, on any given topic.
Regarding his blog post today, in support of Ed Balls’ plan to reinstate the 50p tax rate, I thought it sounded reasonable until I read a few of the comments.
Apparently the 50p tax rate did not in fact increase revenue. The whole idea of taxes is to bring in revenue.
In other words the 50p tax rate is no more than a political gimmick.
OMG someone on that blog has compared 50p tax to ‘the final solution’ …. what with the WSJ quote re Kristallnacht it seems some people are getting seriously OTT!
It’s only money peeps :-s
Oh and there was I thinking you’d departed because you’d read your arrogant penultimate post once it was ‘up’ and done a red-faced runner 🙂 No worries, I know mine sometimes read as badly.
There is no way our troops should have been hauled in to deal with 2011’s civil unrest sparked by people pretending they had political motives when so much of it came to be actually about greed. You’ll be saying it was right the Army were exploited during the miners’ strikes next.
The police were turned into an army for that strike, Michele. ; )
Yes, threat of the Army was used as a weapon by someone just as manic as A Scargill. It would have been horrendous had it happened. My Dad had died, way too shortly after retiring, but would not have supported a strike leader that hadn’t run a ballot anyway (plus my brother was in the Army at the time and under threat of being dragged back from Germany so the period was foul 🙁
I don’t respect the simplistic quotes about ‘brutality’ when people who cannot strike dare (actually have the nerve!) to defend themselves against violence from those that can (albeit with awful financial sacrifice and suffering but especially when they’d been so hopelessly misused).
When Cortonwood was earmarked for closure the South Yorkshire NUM members came out on unofficial strike. This put Scargill in an awkward position because he would never have advocated striking in spring when coal stocks were high. Nevertheless he felt he had to support the rank and file action. Other areas then began to come out in solidarity. Had Scargill called a national ballot he knew that if the ballot was lost then Thatcher/MacGregor would have got what they wanted – mass redundanciesand closures. The politicians and media people who made a big thing about the ballot were not interested in democracy – they used the ballot as an excuse for beating the NUM. That was what the strike was all about – revenge for 1972, 1974 and 1981. Thirty years on we are still allowing the right-wing media and the Tories to form our opinions – ‘manic’ Scargill being a good example.
I’ve not actually read of Scargill being described as ‘manic’ so it’s no borrowed opinion about what looked and smelled like coercion (in many cases that of men who’d been pushed around like cattle for decades).
It’s dead easy to kick people when they’ve been kept down for years and the low esteem that miners were treated with (by anyone in other parts of the country where t’pit was not a duty) ensured they felt like the lower orders (ever since many were forced in to mining immediately post-war because whatever their own ambitions were the country needed coal).
I was never impressed by Thatcher’s superior ‘aspirations’ especially since learning she’d been turned down by Oxford and actually got in by invitation some months after interview perhaps because, it being 1943, some chap’s place became vacant due to his being called up.
Exactly Dave, it was about revenge.
That heartless old cow was determined to crush and humiliate them.
As for your final sentence about allowing the media to form our opinions, which they undoubtedly do, you give a good example.
I would suggest another example, i.e. that Churchill was a good war-time leader!
In my view and I know I’m far from being alone in this, is that he was a warmongering buffoon. He could give a good speech, but there is more to being a leader than that.
The majority of the people at that time could see him for what he was, evidenced by the fact that they didn’t re-elect him.
History is written by the so called winners and much of it is BS.
Which post was that Michelle?
I believe the army should have been sent in to deal with the London rioters, the underbelly of worthless scum who plague our streets, if anything it should have been seen as a good smoking out process. The army should have said “there is rioting in that street, so at 8pm we are going to start firing machine gun rounds into it, and we suggest you don’t riot there if you don’t want to “get some” as they said in Full Metal Jacket.”
But seriously, they were looting, they were the sort of people who fancy trouble for trouble’s sake. Do I think we should give those same kids better environments to grow up in, better culture, better carrot/stick treatment for their parents, better schools – yes. But one part of making life better for them would be letting them know that actions have consequences, and that a life of sloth and crime will not be tolerated in a democracy.
The miners are a totally different kettle of fish. Yes they were overmanned, subsidised and led by delusional management/union barons, but for the most part they were hardworking / decent people. I am sure if you were to have a referendum on whether to use the army against the london rioters and against the striking miners, you would have got a yes voter for the former and a no vote for the latter.
Well as the post I was responding to was your first back, your penultimate must have been the last before you took off for a while after opining about your enjoyment (or lack of) when responding to leftists or rightists.
I’m so glad to hear what you believe about how our Army should be exploited against their own (even if rioting) countrymen and women but….. I have nails to varnish and then blow on showy-offy-like 🙂
Nope they should never ever have been considered as the tools with which to beat the miners, Scargill’s lack of research about so much including coal stocks before the strike that he ordered (rather as if he was an actual Army commander eh?) meant our Army was not needed, thank heavens. You know fine well that most of the foot soldiers (maybe even also some of the officers) would have been the sons of miners. It was a totally utterly stupid idea just as it would have been against rioters more recently. The Police had the intelligence and the nouse to round up anyone caught on CCTV and got them and their co-thieves in the following days and weeks (and to give her some credit May’s changes to Court schedules backed them up).
‘She permanently destroyed any real left wing in this country.’
takes just one sentence like that, with its gob-smacking lack of
awareness of the ebb and flow of history, to totally discredit
everything else you say about anything! If I were marking a student’s
essay which included that sentence I’d be asking the student to qualify
‘permanent’, ‘destroyed’ and ‘real’. Wishful thinking is a poor
substitute for rational argument.
Well I like your opinions normally Dave, find them interesting, but if you thought my last post was arrogant then I shudder to think what you will make of one where I address the concept of me being your student! Therefore I’ll leave it unsaid!
Nonetheless I’ll answer your points. Let’s see if you can do the same with mine.
‘Real’ left wingers, if they are anything, and if they are genuine, should surely stand for helping the poor and reducing inequality?
The biggest, in my view, and big in any fair persons view, thing keeping the rich rich and keeping riches out of reach of the poor, is property, be it entrenched wealth and wealth increasingly tied up in houses.
No one can call themselves a ‘real’ left winger if they vote on the basis of which govt will increase or preserve the price of their house, no matter what other less significant leftist policies they support.
I’ve no quibble at all with the last three paragraphs. Fairness, justice, equality, helping the disadvantaged – these have all been values held by left-wingers, with varying degrees of sincerity. How you effect these values is another matter – Tories would claim to represent them as well. Since around 1978 inequality has been on the increase so it seems unlikely that there will be a reverse while everyone continues to revere the religion of Neo-Liberalism.
I wouldn’t quibble with the fact that inequality has increased. The policy choices of any government since 1978 would not be my own. But I wouldn’t want the policies of the 1970s either. I believe in economics, not anti-economics. The goal of economics is not to create more work, by definition it is to achieve more things with less work. Rather than paying people to dig holes and fill them in again as Keynes suggested and as was our policy then of hiding unemployment and unproductive employment through overmanning, we’d have been better to give the people the same money and not ask them to work for it.
Maybe in future when robots are doing everything for us we might need a more redistributive government based policy, but even though I’m a centrist, I’d prefer more market and less government for now, but with a stronger rule of law applied to the market.
Ah but it doesn’t work that way under capitalism, does it? Marxists like Herbert Marcuse were saying decades ago that utopia is possible, automation would remove a lot of manual and administrative work, there would be no need to work such long hours and we could all have a healthier work/life balance, devoting more time to contemplating what the hell it’s all about being human and mortal and spinning on this rock in space. Instead we’re working longer hours for less. Keynes’ solution of digging holes and filling them in again certainly sounds a ridiculous and pointless exercise but it follows logically from the needs of the capitalist mode of production. The real alternative in the 1930s was to have people on the dole, paid for by people in work, and how fair was that? Businesses crashed because people had no spending power to consume their products and services. And so on. Unfortunately sane economic systems can’t just be blueprinted – they might evolve out of what we’ve got used to. I think I agree with you that we haven’t yet managed to find an alternative to market forces versus state control, both of which have positives and negatives built-in.
I used to think I had some really left wing opinions, then some really right wing opinions, then both.
I wondered “do my left and right opinions balance each other?”
Actually I think the correct combination of left and right can bring the best results.
Germany is more capitalist than us in many ways, but more socialist than us in other ways.
I think it’s capitalist sides (lots of manufacturing, traditional belief in a strong currency, exporting, manufacturing) enable it to pay for a high level of socialism, ie its unemployment benefits and so on.
It’s capitalism supports it’s socialism.
But then I also think that its socialism supports it’s capitalism.
Raghuram Rajan wrote a brilliant book (which Ed Miliband was seen reading I believe) called Fault Lines.
He believed that having a good health and unemployment safety net, such as Germany has, could actually build support for capitalism. Workers will support policies like creative destruction (non profit making businesses being allowed to fail) if they know they will be kept healthy and fed whilst they wait for new opportunities, as well as getting training support.
Is it also possible to do the reverse and combine the worst aspects of capitalism and socialism? I believe so. We have a giant public sector. We also, in theory have a highly capitalist banking system. Except we don’t. Capitalism is not capitalism without bad business being allowed to fail and bankers being allowed to be punished by losing jobs and bonuses.
Our poor people, those who do not do well at school receive full capitalist punishment in the workforce marketplace. Why do we then have socialism for bankers?
As for new systems evolving, well I recommend Tim Harford (of the FT) and his book “adapt”. The view I take from it is that we should experiment with new systems on a small survivable scale, ie try them in a small country or state. The EU or US should in theory be ideal testing grounds.
Lastly, capitalism or whatever you call our system plus technology have delivered better and better outcomes. We are all wealthier than people donkeys years ago, few of us are starving or undernourished like back then, and many fewer of us have to toil all day at backbreaking work in fields, in factories and down mines.
Ipad trouble Dave. Rest of post following.
As for ‘destroyed’ the left wing, ok I should have stated she destroyed the left wing majority, by doing her reverse Frankfurt school move of getting left wing renters to buy houses and become right wingers. There is still a rump left wing of die hards of course, it’s just no one can win an election by catering for them as the number has been so reduced.
As for permanent, well what would you define as permanent? There will be no British left wing majority in this country in my lifetime, barring earth shattering events such as large scale war (which is possible).
The Daily Mail’s scaremongering about Romanians and Bulgarians has been absolutely scandalous.
There never was any likelihood of a great number of Romanians or Bulgarians coming to the UK as they described.
I have been to Romania many times and the country is doing very well economically. You will see reported that the average wage in Romania is one third that of the UK, but what is not reported is that the cost of living is about one third that of the UK as well.
So the vast majority Romanians are not substantially poorer than UK people. There really is no good reason for them to move to the UK.
Even if they were of a will to move to another european country they tend to be more interested in Italy or Spain, because the Romanian language is latinate and so they understand Italian or Spanish.
There are very strong historical links between some parts of Romania and Germany and so many Romanians would be thinking of Germany as a destination if they were of a mind to move to a different country at all.
The small part of the Romanian population that would be interested in migrating is not very likely to come to the UK in any case.
New Europeans are proud to have helped Jon Danzig by putting him in touch with our contacts with the Gandul newspaper in Romania. These kinds of international networks are important if we are to push back on the rubbish we read about in some of the papers especially as it relates to things going on outside Britain. We will continue to support Jon in the valuable work he is doing on all our behalves to undermine the mendacious and promote a fairer analysis of the world will live in based on evidence and hard facts.
Hi , i have been in uk for a few years working in a italian restaurant in Hampstead and i had the pleasure to meet Mr Campbell. I have moved back to Romania in 2013 but i did not find an article in Daily Mail about my self :)))
I suppose that Danzig is now offended that the media “myth” of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration has proved presciently true.
“Scandalous scaremongering” said Patrick a year ago. “Never any likelihood of a great number…..”.