Posts Tagged ‘Daily Mirror’
Another beautiful morning boded well for we hen-cleaners, but does it bode well for our dear leader? Chipping Norton’s favourite son seems besieged, a feeling hardly helped by the Daily Torygraph featuring a huge picture of Nigel Farage on its front page. To be fair it has also headlined David Cameron’s latest anti-Ukip wheeze which involves bringing forward legislation for an EU referendum. Nice thought but since the dreaded Nick Clegg has immediately announced that the Lib Dems will not allow it, the odds are that the hastily constructed torpedo will explode on loading.
We sat outside with our mugs of tea this morning, an experience so rare that the gang was in the sort of warm reflective mood that is usually unique to the Bull & Royal. The general view was that, given such amiable but weak leadership, Britain is back to being ruled by unelected Barons. But this time around it is not the union variety that is ruling our roost. Beer and sandwiches will not placate the new groups that turn the organ-grinder’s handle whilst monkeys, disguised as ministers, dance.
Today two groups are the equivalent of the unions of yesteryear. The first are the boardroom tax avoiders, whose corporate and individual taxes, if paid as intended, would transform the public finances from deficit to surplus in an instant. It is hard for ordinary folk to understand the grip they hold on their fellow clique of elitists at the heart of government, but it has become increasingly clear that our Old Etonians lack the courage to seriously challenge them.
The second group is the British press with its collective interest in weak government. The Leveson report, published last November amid so much hope for much needed change following the phone-hacking scandal and much else, has failed. Its 2,000 pages are history.
Today the Leveson report is to press reform what ‘In Place of Strife’ was to union reform. Harold Wilson flirted with union reform after the seaman’s strike in 1966, and then got scared off in 1969. David Cameron has done the same thing, flirting with press reform after the phone hacking scandals in 2011 before getting scared off in 2013. In both cases vested interests prevailed. In 1969 the Daily Mirror ran a front page editorial headlined; “There exists in Britain a power outside parliament as great as that which exists within it!” And so it is today, only the identity of the power has changed.
There is perhaps a slight hope that the government, backed by the all-party agreement, may stand firm on press regulation but as the general election draws nearer it is unlikely. The prime minister’s links with Murdoch et al are well known and he is unlikely to jeopardise their support. And should Ed Miliband triumph he is unlikely to want to pick a fight with the press in the difficult circumstances of a Labour government.
So we now have not union barons, but those of the boardroom and press variety. There seems no prospect whatsoever that government will tackle the former, and only a remote hope regarding the latter. The implications for us all are unnecessarily harsh austerity and continued bullying and unethical hounding by the media.
At times like this one tends to think back for examples of champions lost, of tough characters who would have said enough is enough, and meant it. Sadly it is a short list, only Thatcher and Churchill spring to mind. Perhaps a continuing success on the part of Ukip might just force David Cameron’s hand on the tax avoiders at least.
But we shouldn’t hold our breath, barons have a tradition of ruling for decades!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; “I’m tired of all the nonsense about beauty being only skin deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want – an adorable pancreas? …Jean Kerr in ‘The Snake has all the Lines’.
What a wonderful spell of weather. Some of my allotment pals are crying out for rain but, having endured weeks of the stuff, my webbed feet are painful and I simply cannot join their entreaties. And it is good to know that when you reach home and tune in to Trent Bridge there is more to see than three blokes gassing away with a background view of the covers. As always this morning we did our work and then gathered for a brew, the difference being that we sat on the benches outside of the giant shed. Inevitably some of the chaps opened up their papers, inevitably some of them were tabloids, comics for grown-ups.
Even the readers of The Sun, Mirror etc amongst us acknowledge that it would not be wise to accept that the stories featured are necessarily accurate. In fact many are pure invention and extremely damaging to innocents. A perfect example was the coverage over Christmas of the murder of Bristol landscape architect Joanna Yeates, whose body was found on Christmas Day. On December 30th Joanna’s landlord, Chris Jefferies, was arrested. He was subsequently released when it became clear that he was totally innocent. But meantime both The Sun and Daily Mirror launched a witchhunt of incredible ferocity. They pronounced Mr Jefferies guilty and peddled a range of accusations that he was a loner, eccentric, a man of strange sexual tastes and humour. None of which was true.
In doing this they committed two offences. Had the man they hounded actually been charged, a trial would have been impossible, and they almost destroyed a good and innocent man. Yesterday both papers were convicted of contempt of court and the three judges sitting at the High Court found that they had “created substantial risks to the course of justice”. The judgement came hours after lawyers announced that Mr Jefferies had accepted a “substantial” payout from eight newspapers who published libellous articles about the former schoolteacher during the 48 hours he was under mistaken arrest.
In addition to the heavy fines imposed, The Sun and Daily Mirror also had to pay out for libel and in this regard they were joined by the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman.
The contempt charges aginst the Mirror and Sun were brought by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieves, who took the unusual step of leading the prosecution himself. He said that he did so because their coverage was “so exceptionally bad, memorable and adverse”. During a TV interview Mr Grieves said that the papers behaviour was unbelievable. As, of course, were their stories.
Hardly a week passes but one of the tabloids attempts character assassination of someone. We have learned a great deal from the phone hacking scandal and it is clear that whilst the News of the World was uniquely dishonest, the rest of the pack are none too fussy about accuracy. Remember the many invented stories about Nick Clegg at the time of the general election. So nauseated did the public become that a website headed ‘All Nick’s Fault’ drew millions of readers.
Meantime we have heard yet more revelations about the phone hacking by the Murdoch Clan, compounded by the accusation by former senior staff at the NoW that James Murdoch provided false information to the Commons Select Committee. The whole shabby affair has done more to damage the credibility of tabloid newspapers than anything that has ever happened before.
It is not for me to pass judgement on the millions who buy tabloids each day. But I do sometimes wonder if they are necessarily happy at the thought that they are funding spiteful half-truths and campaigns aimed at destroying anyone they choose. Denis Thatcher used to refer to the scrums that regularly gathered in Downing Street as “reptiles”.
On that at least he was surely right!
YOUR WEEKEND GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZ; 1. Which nationality was the spy Mata Hari? 2. The Dickens work Edwin Drood is different for what reason? 3. Which Australian soap star had the biggest-selling UK single in 1988? 4. What were the Boston Tea Party protestors against? 5. What is a Wessex Saddleback? 6. Who succeeeded Gerhard Schroeder as German Chancellor? 7. Lyncanthropy involves men changing into what? 8. Which City’s American football team is known as the Vikings? 9. Queen Wilhelmina who died in 1962 was Queen of which country? 10. The pop band America were formed in which country?
The first task this morning was a visit to B & Q in search of roof panels to replace those that ended up in Austria last week. The check-out lady there has become a friend over the past few years, but only after we explained why a load of old geezers regularly drop in for what must look like the ingredients for Cameron’s big society. Mind you, whilst we don’t understand what that is, we are confident that B&Q could supply it! On our return with the battered pick-up we began the process of hitting our thumbs and swearing which are the key features of our DIY endeavours. The level of curses was enhanced somewhat when Albert reported the Met Office as predicting further storms later this week. If we hurry we may just get the runs covered in time for the whole lot to be re-dispatched.
But there was light relief to be had over tea when we saw the headlines announcing the latest government initiative. It seems that the brother idea to the big society is a national wellbeing measure! Apparently Mr Cameron has long dreamed of having a wellbeing index and to have it updated quarterly and published to every citizen to enable them to better organise ther lives. Whitehall claims that we are likely to be the first country to have such an initiative, no great surprise there. Already work is underway and the government has commissioned the national statistician Jil Matheson to devise questions with a view to the first ever wellbeing survey being launched in the Spring.
That sounds a long time to think up a few questions but the press relaese tells us that not only will it ask about recycling (no explanantion given as to why wheelie bins are considered our major source of delight) but will also deal in depth with psychology and attitudes. Downing Street spokesmen seemed almost as vague on this as they proved to be on the big society but they did have a go. They said that a large sample is needed to enable anyone who wishes to move, say, from London to Exeter to establish what effect the move would have on their quality of life. I can only assume that an aunt of Mrs Cameron is thinking of moving west, but it seems an expensive way to find out just how hostile the natives are likely to be.
Another advantage that the spin-doctors trotted out was that come the next comprehensive spending review – bit frightening to be told that there is to be another – the government will “have a clearer idea as to which cuts are most acceptable”. At this point I lost the script as Premiership Managers like to say. That was because they added that sustainability will be a by-product. Ye Gods, this is even dafter than Clegg’s already abandoned “1000 ideas”.!
I have the uneasy feeling that this is another one from David Cameron’s ‘dreambox’. He followed the fanfare for the wellbeing scheme by saying that “Wellbeing can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture, and, above all, the strength of our personal relationships”. Spot on there Dave but what do any of those things have to do with the government?
I may be the odd one out on this but it seems to me that what most people want is less involvement with politicians, not more. Many of us derive great pleasure from laughing at them, or complaining at their ineptitudes’ and that is probably the extent of their influence on our personal sense of well being. For what it is worth the one national survey of ‘happiness’ has shown little change over the past three decades. Ministers have come and gone, recessions and boom years too, but the average Brit has remained constant in his or her joy or misery.
I sense that David Cameron means well and, unlike his deputy, is as straight as they come. But he does seem preoccupied with a vision that no one else can fathom, a sort of benign big brother who loves, and is loved by, all. I hate to disillusion an idealist but people were happy under such diverse characters as Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown not because they loved them but because they took the usual British perverse approach of mocking them. People loved the tales of counting ones fingers after a meeting with Blair, of not risking a meeting at all with Grumpy Gordon, of Lady Thatcher really being a man in disguise and of Major having his underpants outside of his shirt to please Edwina.
Probably his self understanding should tell the present leader that the best he can hope for is to be vaguely more popular that the others. But if he insists on maintaining the tempo of a new, barmy and impossible-to-understand idea every other day I suspect that he will create a reputation for being even more boring than Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Never heard of him? The ultimate accolade for a bore!
The Daily Mirror can usually be relied upon to flay fat-cat bankers alive but it was strangely quiet over the news that the state-owned Northern Rock is paying departing boss Gary Hoffman £500,000 of taxpayers money to stay at home for six months before he joins rival bank NBNK.
Strange because the rest of the Fleet Street hacks had a field day. In fact so great was the uproar that within 24 hours it was announced that Hoffman had decided to waive the ‘ golden goodbye’.
We can only speculate as to the silence of the ‘people’s champion’. Surely that had nothing to do with the fact that Hoffman is a non-executive director of Trinity Mirror, the owners of , er, the Daily Mirror?
BUY BRITISH…NOT LIKELY!
I am reliably informed that almost 90 per cent of the materials required for the building and staging the 2012 Olympics is being purchased from abroad. Sounds like we really have that opportunity sorted then!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. 1975 2. The Labour Party
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which three Arab nations joined in a federation in 1971? 2. With what unusual crime was Joyce McKinney charged in 1978?