I have not yet read a single one that is not based on a fundamental misconception; that the freedom to publish what one chooses is tantamount to being free from responsibility for what one publishes. This isn’t true. I defend the Daily Mail’s right to splash whatever they want. This doesn’t mean it should be free from consequence.
“Publish and be damned” is still the principle, isn’t it? It certainly would be the case if similarly inflamatory statements were made about an individual. The Mail would probably expect a writ to land on their desk within hours. As a result, they think more carefully about what they say when it comes to people with the resources to sue them. They try to ensure that what they say is verifiably accurate. Why should it not be the same standard when talking about entire religious faiths, ethnic groups or classes of people?
Even if I accept that misrepresentation would be difficult to prove in this case, at least it would give the Mail pause for thought. The same pause for thought that they would afford a front page that concerned Peter Andre. Is it too much to ask that dead children and people who depend on benefits are afforded the same level of courtesy, rather than the “lob it in” approach?
The Standards Code has not, as few appear to understand, been drafted yet. The Leveson Report makes only three broad recommendations as to its content. One of them is that the Code must cover standards of “accuracy, and the need to avoid misrepresentation”.
It is vital to note that the principles proposed by the Leveson report have already been agreed – at least by the National press. The major point of contention was enforcement and whether it will be underpinned by statute or not.
So, to all those journalists saying “you couldn’t possibly make provisions for this sort of behaviour”, your editors have already agreed such provisions. The only question is whether we are serious as a industry about principles of “accuracy, and the need to avoid misrepresentation”. It seems such principles are too lofty and nebulous for some, especially if properly enforced. I find that very sad.
I went to my very first Burns’ Night Supper this weekend. I was asked to do the “Toast to the Laddies”. This is what I wrote. (P.S. Haggis rocks.)
Some myths on men, I’ll take apart.
The first, in really quite a simple mode
If I refrain from burp and fart
And don’t adjust my plums, during this ode.
Keep drinking lads and listen well.
From you that’s all I’m asking.
The second myth we thus dispel
With proof we’re multi-tasking.
The third one, put about by them
I can rebut expediently,
If I take off and drop my sock
And pick it up immediately.
The fourth is that we’re not complex;
We do what “William” beckons.
They even claim we think of sex
Roughly, every seven blowjob.
We are the stronger of the two;
We’re born to give the orders.
And yet we’re nothing without you
Our mothers, sisters, lovers, daughters.
You are the word that soothes our fears,
The one that asks directions,
The silent witness to our tears.
The hand on our erections.
So, since we’re doomed to hear all day
we missed on evolution,
Let’s give the toilet seat a spray
and call it REVOLUTION.
To The Laddies!
I have crunched the economic growth figures and have found the following.
The UK came out of the deep recession related to the start of the financial crisis here in the third quarter of 2009.
Since then the economy grew by an estimated 1.715% in total under the previous administration in under a year.
After the Coalition took over, the economy has grown by an estimated 1.385% in over two and a half years.
This means an average monthly GDP growth rate for the relevant period of 0.156% under Alistair Darling’s Chancellorship, compared to an average monthly rate of 0.046% under George Osborne. And the latter includes the Summer Olympics.
The disappointing figures are accompanied by a gigantic expected increase of National Debt during the Coalition’s term from under £800 billion to £1.4 trillion. Also, our deficit is tracking higher than expected and the IFS expects that based on the figures April-December, it will actually increase this financial year.
Even including the sale of 4G rights, which hasn’t actually been sold yet, but which the Chancellor has included in his figures, this is a desperately inept performance. Meanwhile the Government is continuing and expanding its brutal programme of cuts and privatisation. The only excuse offered for Osborne’s performance is that our trading relationship with the Eurozone had a more severe than expected effect on the overall economy, while at the same time promising people a Yes/No vote to dissolve that relationship altogether.
I cannot think of anybody other than George Osborne, in any context, who would not have already been sacked for such abject failure – except a hereditary Royal one. And even the there would be pressure to abdicate.
*I have apportioned the 2010 Q2 figures pro rata to the two administrations, even though that is extremely generous to the Coalition since the implementation of their economic policies can only be said to have started to take effect after the Chancellor’s emergency statement on the 22 of June 2010.
Dear Ms Soubry
I said this to you today: Deflating the Big Fat Lie with Big Fat Facts
I’d like to add
My thanks to
A small percentage of them will be the lucky progeny of the 10% of us who control over 50% of the wealth in this country. One in particular will be afforded every advantage imaginable.
The vast majority have a life of uncertainly and strife ahead. Many will join the 3.1 million children the IFS predicts will be living below the poverty line next year.
All of them will be born with an equal possibility of having the potential for brilliance – the potential to be the next Mozart or Newton or Hawking. To innovate, to work, to lead, to save this country maybe. Sadly, we have a government that does not believe in the State intervening to give them all the same chances. And they have the majority’s tacit collusion.
By the same accident of birth which predetermines one will be the future monarch, thousands will never get the chance to realise their potential. Some will escape, against the odds; this, we call mobility. Most will be born predetermined to be poor, disenfranchised, dependent, angry, drunk, hopeless, beaten before the fight began. This accident of birth becomes the single most important determinant of each one’s future.
I wish them all the best of luck. Though some will need it less than others.
Just a little thought to help our Chancellor with a basic concept he seems to find difficult, namely the “curious suggestion” that you borrow more to pay less. There is nothing curious about it. Nor is it counter-intuitive as some economists, unhelpfully, suggest.
Let me use the “national economy as a household” analogy, which Cameron and Co. love so much.
Every time someone takes out a mortgage loan to buy a house, having assessed that the repayments will be cheaper than renting equivalent accommodation, they are borrowing more to pay less. Not only are they saving money, they are also investing in long-term infrastructure.
Anyone who could afford to do this, but did not, would be considered unhinged by every Tory voter in the land.
Moreover, the ideal time to do this, would be while enjoying “record-low interest rates” as the government keeps boasting.
I hope this clarifies the concept for our Chancellor. Although I doubt it.
NEXT WEEK in our series ECONOMICS FOR DUMMIES: Demand and Supply; What are they?
I watched agog as a campaign to raise awareness turned into missing girl porn. It was plain when the public response which had been a help to the police, became a huge hindrance. I can identify the moment when the media’s mock concern for a little girl, turned into a morbid hunt for a corpse.
If all these things were entirely clear to me, a man on the Clapham omnibus, they cannot have been unknown to the television executives who made the decision to continue to feed the story.
What makes it particularly distasteful is that by no means could this be considered a “slow news week” – quite the opposite. And so, I posit, the tabloid-isation of the media industry is matter of choice; not necessity. Because it is easy.
In the climate of filling the 24 hour cycle with this sort of pornographic aesthetic of personal tragedy, Kay Burley confronting volunteers with the reality that the little girl is probably dead is simply the money-shot.
And still hacks continue to confront people with that harsh probability. People feebly respond “we have to keep hope alive”. The vans stay put. The cameras chase and the boom microphones assault.
This is a village in grief. Denial is a perfectly legitimate first stage to dealing with it. Like wicked buzzards the media appear to be saying: “Excuse me, but we’re on a schedule here. Could you get on with it? We would like good close-up shots of anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance before the day is out. Thanks.”
How about leaving them the hell alone? Anyone with a shred of humanity? No.