Posted by sim-o
November 11th, 2010
This post was originally posted by Uponnothing at his Angry Mob blog. It is reproduced here with kind permission.
I know it is not news to anyone that the Daily Mail is staggeringly hypocritical, but sometimes it is just worth repeating because they do something like this:
Phil Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: ‘[embarking] on a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to “make the white folk angry” enough to vote for him.’ The Daily Mail is appalled at the fact ‘that while he was stirring up racial ill-feeling against his rival, Phil Woolas was the minister in charge of immigration’.
It is worth mentioning at this point that Minority Thought and Primly Stable have already covered this story and they both move in the same direction here, the only direction possible, and that is to point out the Daily Mail’s own record of running ‘a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to ‘make the white folk angry’. Minority Thought puts forward the smears of Nick Clegg during the election campaign in which the Daily Mail asked: ‘Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?’ Minority Thought then moves on to the recent announcement of a proposed strike on Bonfire Night by the Fire Brigades Union, to which the Daily Mail responded by rooting through the bins of union general secretary Matt Wrack; as well as knocking the doors of various family members to dig for dirt.
Both Minority Thought and Primly Stable give a few examples of the Mail’s efforts to stir up racial tension, but in reality one would need an encyclopedic memory to recall all of them, and it would make this blog post as long as the entire archive to list them. I’ll attempt to pick out a few of their more disgraceful efforts anyway, just to ram the point home that the Mail can hardly criticise a few leaflets, when it has thousands of newspaper editions doing far worse – under the current editor, Paul Dacre, so no excuses.
First of all, the Daily Mail repeatedly repeats the myth that immigrants and asylum seekers rush to the top of social housing lists at the expense of local, white folk. In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing that the BBC summed-up thus:
There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says.Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…
“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.
“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”
Most major news sources – including tabloid newspapers – reported this finding: ITN: Immigrant housing priority ‘a myth’; Guardian: Claims that immigrants prioritised for social housing ‘a myth’; The Independent: Study ‘ends myth’ of housing for immigrants; The Daily Telegraph: Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows. Even the Daily Express headline is refreshingly accurate (even if they still shout it): IMMIGRANTS ‘DON’T TOP HOUSING LIST’.
Accept, of course, the Daily Mail, who instead took a different angle:
This article ignored the main finding of the report in order to protect the Daily Mail narrative that immigrants were being treated better than ‘indigenous’ Brits, a narrative that fuels much of the BNP support as well as the rising militarism of the EDL. Just before the Daily Mail completely whitewashed the findings of this report they were still pushing the myth hard:
‘The “British homes for British workers” plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list’.
Just last month the Daily Mail were again repeating the myth by claiming that Birmingham City Council was putting ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first’. The implication was clear: all other councils were still putting asylum seekers at the top of the housing queue.
Or what about the annual claim that the majority of new born boys in the UK are called ‘Mohammed’? This year the Daily Mail’s coverage earned the first Five Chinese Crackers‘ ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award’, against some stiff competition given that every tabloid and some broadsheets were running with this myth. I’ll let 5CC take over:
Here’s why your version won:
- It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
- As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
- Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
- It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
- It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.
Or how about the Daily Mail coverage of Winterval (again, they are not the only newspaper guilty of pushing this myth)? At first the banning of Christmas was aimed at the ‘PC brigade’ but the Mail has now realised it has a much better target: Muslims. The PC brigade were banning Christmas in case it offended Muslims. Councils, not content with giving them all the benefits and free houses denied to good old British white-folk, they were now ‘pandering’ to their ‘demands’.
This may seem a ludicrous idea, but it is believed by many, including the EDL whose leader, Stephen Lennon, recently threatened any council thinking of ‘pandering to Muslims’ in an interview with the Times:
He said that “reluctantly” he uses the threat of a demonstration as “blackmail” to ensure that councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions. “We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down.”
Who are these ‘Islamic pressure groups’? When has any Muslim ever wanted to ‘ban Christmas’? Phil Woolas used racial tensions to get re-elected, the Daily Mail use racial tensions to sell newspapers, whilst providing a stable diet of disinformation to bolster support and shape the ideology of right-wing extremists in the UK. Christmas has never been banned and councils have never renamed it. The myth has been debunked so many times it is worrying that a collection of adults believes it to such an extent they are writing to every council.
So, what is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? The tabloid press.
Categories: Politics |
Tags: agendas, hypocrasy, Immigration, phil woolas | 5 Comments
Posted by Dave Cross
September 25th, 2010
The Daily Mail never misses an opportunity to push its agenda, does it. Writing about the Labour Leadership election today, Nicola Boden says:
Once regarded as the dark horse in the competition, the energy
spokesman, 40, took the crown thanks to the party’s complicated voting
“Complicated”? How can you possibly describe the single transferable alternative vote as “complicated”? Unless, of course, you’re writing for a publication that is trying to persuade its readers that any deviation from first past the post is unnatural.
Update: Corrected STV to AV. And that, of course, makes the Mail’s comments even more political. AV is the voting system that we’re due a referendum on.
[Cross-posted from davblog]
Categories: Politics |
Posted by carlp
September 6th, 2010
On July 22nd I wrote a small blog entry on my website about a dodgy article in the Daily Mail about children with special educational needs.
In my entry I asked: “[a]t what point do we suppose the Daily Mail not only dislikes the inclusion of young people with special educational needs in schools, but doesn’t think special educational needs exist outside of the 2% once designated before the Warnock report of 1978.”
Of course the article in the Mail doesn’t explicitly say there is no such things as Special Needs because in doing this, not only would they be wrong (this shouldn’t phase them too much), they’d open up the grounds for a whole campaign and would alienate a large amount of people (even if those people are Mail readers).
The Mail article stated that “it has also been claimed” that doctors, teachers and parents are too keen to pin medical labels – such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – on “what might previously have been branded poor discipline”.
It then quoted Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, an education researcher at the University of Edinburgh, who said:
You can’t do a blood test to check whether you’ve got ADHD – it’s diagnosed through a behavioural checklist. Getting out of your seat and running about is an example – half the kids in a school could qualify under that criterion.
My charge is obviously against the unsourced article where the Mail, instead of making a claim themselves, have claimed that “doctors, teachers and parents” attest to children being overbranded.
Then last week a comment appeared below my entry by Dr Lloyd herself telling me that:
The daily mail used a quote from me, without my permission, from another article that took a different approach. My argument is not that ADHD doesn’t exist, it is that we are clustering together lots of difficult and challenging behaviour under one rather simple diagnosis and then using stimulant medication. Of course such children need additional support in school and should get it. The daily mail used my quote out of context to support their argument against inclusion. I disagree completely with their conclusions!
Of course! The Mail don’t make claims themselves, they use claims by other people in order to hide what they really think, but even better than that, they use quotes from people who don’t even agree with the charge they are hiding behind.
I contacted Dr Lloyd through her work email to verify whether it was really her who had left the comment. After confirming this she told me that she was:
really fed up with the Daily Mail using this bit of a quote. The original was in the Guardian and has since appeared without context (and to support opinions I dislike) twice in the Mail and one in the Telegraph. – so not just the tabloids!
So let it be known, the Mail (and the Telegraph) will use quotes out of turn, without permission, to write ill-thought commentary on subjects they find contentious. Why people continue using this rag for information is well beyond me.
Categories: Politics |
Tags: deceit, education, special needs | 2 Comments
Posted by sim-o
July 29th, 2010
“I have been shunned, publicly abused and received numerous extremely distressing and frightening telephone calls and text messages,” he said. “I have received death threats and on occasions felt unable to leave my home for fear that I may be attacked.”
That, is Parameswaran Subramanyam. The Tamil who went on hunger strike in the middle of 2009 protesting against Sri Lankan governments last push against the Tamils.
The reason Parameswaran was shunned and abused and received death threats was because of the report in the Daily Mail that inspired other articles like this one. (The Sun also churned out copy based on the Mails’ article too.)
The Daily Mail piece has obviously disappeared, and they have now published an apology, but their claims of Parameswaran costing the Met Police over £7 million in overtime due to a hunger strike was designed to do more than make people gasp at the cost of the demonstration; the Mail even claimed the hunger striker was a fraud and was having sneaky meals of fast foods.
And what evidence did they have for this? None at all. Police “surveillance teams using specialist monitoring equipment had watched in disbelief as he tucked into the clandestine deliveries.” Apparently.
But the police couldn’t have recorded any McDonald’s being eaten by Parameswaran…
[T]he Met superintendent in charge of the policing operation had also confirmed that no video evidence existed because there had been no police surveillance team using the “specialist monitoring equipment” alluded to in the Daily Mail article.
Whether the Mail was fed that line about the surveillance from someone in the Met or they managed to think it up all by themselves in unknown, but the linking of it to the overtime bill for the whole protest concentrated all the hostility that these two pieces of information could generate on the one man who was making the ultimate political protest, and it seemed as if it were designed specifically to undermine him and his cause.
“Fasting was the sacrifice [Subramanyam] was making to bring the UK’s attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of Tamils being killed and injured by the Sri Lankan government,” she said [Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh].
“To suggest that he had broken his fast in secret, at the height of the civil war was an insult to him, to his community and to those victims.”
The Mail doesn’t care about any of that though. To the Mail it’s just yet more foreigners costing us money.
Categories: Politics |
Tags: agendas, apology, hunger strike, Immigration, Tamil | 19 Comments
Posted by Dave Cross
November 3rd, 2009
[Reposted from davblog]
The story so far:
In January 2004, in an astonishing display of common sense the government downgraded cannabis to a class C drug. This didn’t play well in the shires and in January 2009 it was reclassified as Class B. Last week, Professor David Nutt, head of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said what every rational person knows – that the reclassification was a political decision which completely ignored the scientific evidence. He was sacked by the Home Secretary. Over the weekend two other members of the council resigned in protest.
This has lead to a lot of discussion of the relationship between scientific evidence and government policy. Today the Daily Mail (who else?) published one of the most ill-informed articles on the subject that it would be possible to write. It’s written by that most highly respected of science writers, A N Wilson. In the future, this article will no doubt be used as the basis of introductory level courses on the philosophy of science where students will compete to find the largest number of logical fallacies in the piece.
Let’s pick off some of the easier targets.
But [Professor Nutt] was not content simply to give advice, of course. What he appeared to want to do was to dictate to the Government, and when it refused to acknowledge his infallibility, Professor Nutt started to break ranks and to denounce the country’s law on drugs.
That’s putting a more than slightly biased slant on events, of course. Professor Nutt was employed for his expertise on drugs. He can’t be expected to change his opinions to fit in with government policy. Science doesn’t work like that.
The trouble with a ’scientific’ argument, of course, is that it is not made in the real world, but in a laboratory by an unimaginative
academic relying solely on empirical facts.
Oh no! Those troublesome scientists with their “unimaginative” empirical facts. If only they had a bit more imagination so that they could make up facts that better fitted the policies that the government want to implement.
Try saying that ecstasy is safe in the sink estates of our big cities, where police, social workers and teachers work to improve the lives of young people at the bottom of the heap.
Ah, yes. But nowhere has Professor Nutt suggested that ecstasy is safe. He is saying that it is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. That doesn’t mean it’s safe. This is a blatant misrepresentation of his views.
If you add together all the winos and self-destructive alcoholics, then throw in the smokers who’ve died of respiratory or cardiac disease, the total will far outstrip the number of young people who die after taking an ecstasy pill – and you could conclude from this that smoking and drinking are more dangerous than ecstasy.
Well, yes. No-one is likely to disagree with this. But saying this in the middle of the article strongly implies that this is how Professor Nutt and his colleagues reached their conclusions. And that, of course, won’t be the case at all. This shows, at least, a terrible lack of knowledge of the scientific method or, perhaps, a shameful attempt to misrepresent the amount of work that will have gone into Professor Nutt’s research.
Going back in time, some people think that Hitler invented the revolting experiments performed by Dr Mengele on human beings and animals.
But the Nazis did not invent these things. The only difference between Hitler and previous governments was that he believed, with babyish credulity, in science as the only truth. He allowed scientists freedoms which a civilised government would have checked.
Ok, now we’re really on dodgy ground. This is getting dangerously close to saying that all scientists are one experiment away from becoming Dr. Mengele. It’s like Wilson has never heard of Godwin’s Law. Originally, the online version of this article had a picture of Hitler next to these paragraphs. This has been removed in the last hour or so.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Mail is sending out mixed messages here. Surely a comparison to the Nazis is showing some kind of grudging respect to the scientists.
In fact, it is the arrogant scientific establishment which questions free expression. Think of the hoo-ha which occurred when one hospital doctor dared to question the wisdom of using the MMR vaccine.
Isn’t it astonishing that the Mail is still banging on about this? Wakefield was wrong. And his deeply flawed study would had been given no publicity at all if it wasn’t for papers like the Mail jumping on the bandwagon without doing the smallest amount of research on the story.
And to every one who thinks otherwise, I would ask them to carry out a simple experiment. Put a drug, bought casually on the street corner, and a glass of red wine on the table when your teenager comes home from school. Which of them, in all honesty, would you prefer him to try?
See? That’s Wilson’s idea of a scientific experiment. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. He needs (in fact most journalists who write about science in the popular press need) a course in the scientific method and basic statistics. It should be law that you can’t write about science until you’ve read and understood Bad Science.
I’m glad to see that Wilson is getting pulled apart in the comments. But people reading the paper won’t see the comments. The Mail needs to publish a retraction. And Wilson needs to be stopped from writing about things he knows nothing about.
Categories: Politics |
Posted by sim-o
August 6th, 2009
The government has announced a controversial initiative yesterday. Controversial for the Mail anyway. That initiative is to reduce violence against women and young girls.
The initiative is called Saving Lives, Reducing Harm, Protecting the Public, and…
The most eye-catching proposal in the document is the one to force schools to introduce statutory lessons in ‘educating children and young people about healthy, nonviolent relationships’
This stuff is going to be taught to five year olds. But just like sex education being taught to youngsters this will be tailored to the appropriate age too. Five year olds won’t be taught the same stuff or in the same way as 14 year olds. That really would be daft.
The Mail doesn’t like it and tries to drag Harriet Harman in and imply a ‘feminist agenda’. Harman is involved but only because she happens to be borrowing the top job while the boss is away. Why the Mail had to raise a non-related point about her becoming embroiled in a row over rape laws is anybodies guess. Even if Harriet has had some input into it, so what? What’s wrong with trying to reduce the amount of women and girls being beaten shitless?
The Mail does admit that it is a cross government initiative, which contradicts the mystrious critics named only as ‘Others’ who say it is part of Harmans’ ‘feminist agenda’. But how can that be? This report contains more than just this part about wife-beating/domestic violence. Another thing that undermines the ‘feminist agenda’ is…
unless there are plans to segregate the classroom into ‘bad boys’ and ‘good girls’ whilst these lessons are taking place, then it’s obviously not just boys who are being taught about domestic violence, it’s all the kids.
Here, though is a critic that James Slack, the reporter, can name…
Margaret Morrissey, of family lobby group ParentsOutloud, said that PSHE classes were in danger of being ‘hijacked by pressure groups’.
She added: ‘I do not really want my youngster to be indoctrinated with these things.
‘There will always be those who want to cram our school curriculum with social issues that need to be taught by parents and society.’
At this point, I would like to quote from Enemies of Reason…
Do you like the irony? A pressure group is saying that classes were being hijacked by pressure groups? But surely this article has been ‘hijacked’ by a pressure group, then? Or is it only the wrong kind of pressure group that this pressure group objects to? So, sure, a ‘critic’ has said that the curriculum (not ‘already overstuffed’, mind) is being crammed with things, but just things they disapprove of. And who are ParentsOutLoud anyway? Well have a look at the website and see what you think. Now don’t be cruel about the fact that an education pressure group can’t spell or write things properly; that’s just nasty of you. We all make mistakes and doubtless there’ll be one from me just centimetres away from this. No, look instead at the kind of articles they have – roaring about ‘health and safety’, complaining about Government targets, attacking Ed Balls – it’s a bit like if the Daily Mail ran a pressure group, what that pressure group would be. So naturally their interests dovetail nicely with the Mail’s when a ‘critic’ needs to be found of any Government plan involving kids.
Around the middle of the article is where the Mail starts pushing against the feminist agenda even more, muddying the waters and discretely moves the goal posts…
The Government claims that violence against women is costing Britain an astonishing £40billion.
It has emerged they are carrying out five separate reviews into the causes and how women can be better protected.
This is despite evidence showing that boys and young men are more than twice as likely to fall victim to violence, and that young women are becoming increasingly aggressive.
There it is, boys are twice as likely to be victims of violence and girls are getting more violent too. That is the correct. I do not know the figures, but it is. The Mail is trying to destroy the feminist arguement by shouting that boys are a bigger victim than girls and Harriet is just looking after the girls. But just like any comparison, it needs to be like for like and this is not it. Boys and men are victims of domestic violence too, but not in the same numbers as women. It would be good if boys as victims were included in this report too, they may well be, but to try and beat Harman with the feminist stick by making incompatible comparisons between these two levels of victims is wrong.
A quarter of all violent assaults in England and Wales are carried out by women, and it is the most common reason for females to be arrested, recently overtaking theft and handling stolen goods.
So three quarters of all violent assaults are carried out by men.
Another quote that fits the Mails strange logic…
Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said Miss Harman and the Government should not be creating the impression violent crime is men against women, when the statistics show this is not the case.
She added: ‘It is young men who are most likely to be the victims of violent crime. It is a distortion to suggest otherwise. It appears that everything must be viewed through the prism of 1960s feminism.’
It may be most likely to be a young man that will be a victim of violent crime, but it is also men that are most likely to be the person being violent. Whether against other men or women, women are still the fairer sex.
The Daily Mail on the other hand by miscomparing and it’s choice of people and organisations it quotes is giving the impression that the violence is the other way round, women against men.
*No, I’m not going to finish the joke as it is only funny to a five year old. Unless of course their mother really does have two black eyes.
Categories: Politics |
Tags: education, feminism, violence | 18 Comments
Posted by antonvowl
May 14th, 2009
This is an expanded post from my other blog. Honestly, I’d been having such a lovely morning and then I happened across the Mail’s website. I don’t know what it was that made me do it, but there I was, and suddenly, well, you can’t look away, can you? It’s like when you drive past a dead badger with its guts hanging out by the side of the road. You don’t want to see the awfulness of it all, but something makes you look. Do you know what I mean? Anyway, this is what I saw: It seems simple enough, in Mail land. If you complain about people’s attitudes towards homosexuality, then you are a ‘Nazi’. A ‘Nazi’ in the Littlejohn/Gaunt mould, that is, ie someone who has views that you don’t can be called a Nazi. As the man who led to the end of Gaunt’s career in radio pointed out, though, you need to put something in front of ‘Nazi’ to be able to get away with it – the Mail has chosen ‘adoption’ this time. Because the Nazis were so fond of homosexual people, weren’t they? So fond of them they gave them nice pink triangles to wear in the concentration camps. It’s a really good analogy, Mr Mail.
(Interestingly enough, Littlejohn, as an example, has been given credence in recent years by pretending claiming that it is in fact the Left, rather than the Right, who are the real anti-Semites. I don’t know how much good he really does that particular cause by then going and slapping the label Nazi onto anyone he doesn’t like, as Angry Mob noted in the 2008 Littlejohn audit. Isn’t that, you know, a teensy-weensy bit disrespectful to those who really suffered at the hands of the real Nazis, to imagine that some bloke who’s made up a rule you don’t like can be called one?) Anyway, what have people done to deserve being called ‘Nazis’ in this instance? Well, here is the story behind the emotive headline, and here’s the quote that the Mail have cherry-picked out of an adoption pamphlet aimed at single-sex couples:
‘Children need good parents much more than retarded homophobes need an excuse to whinge, so don’t let your worries about society’s reaction hinder your desire and ability to give a child a loving caring home.’
I think it is indeed a bit harsh to call people ‘retarded’ when you don’t agree with their point of view – but the overreaction from Mail Towers is ridiculously out of proportion. Incidentally, talking about the offensiveness of the term ‘retard’, guess who it was who called Gordon Brown ‘an accident-prone retard’ and got away with it long before Jeremy Clarkson got in hot water for calling him a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’? Go on, guess. Go on. Who do you think it was? You guessed Littlejohn, didn’t you? Of course it was! And it was in the Daily Mail as well. Call a homophobe a retard – find yourself attacked by the Mail. Call a politician a retard – find yourself paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by the Mail.
But Gaunt, during the ‘Nazi’ exchange that got him booted out by TalkSport, was making a point against adoption services too, calling them Nazis for not allowing smokers to adopt. Anyone who’s been watching the recent series of documentaries on Channel 4 about adoption (and I’m guessing that excludes the entirety of the Mail workforce) will have seen just how hard it is to adopt a child, even if you *do* pass all the criteria and tests, and even if you’ve done all the training – and yes, especially if you happen to be a same-sex couple.
People like the Mail and Gaunt ignore all the evidence. In their minds, adoption agencies hand over children like sweets to gay couples and ignore nice middle-class folk. There’s no evidence for this, but this is what they think, so this is what they describe as being the truth.
And there’s another point worth making. The Mail described people who complain about homophobia as ‘Nazis’ in one story, but guess what? When the ‘homophobia’ in question comes from their nemesis, then it’s perfectly acceptable to be offended on behalf of the gay community:
Those folk who complained about Ross aren’t ‘Nazis’ at all, of course. They’re perfectly acceptable individuals. And look at the irony:
Ross was involved in a light-hearted discussion about prizes in a competition themed around the fictional teen pop star when he joked: ‘If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings his…erm…partner home.
Up for adoption, Wossy? But as we already know, adoption agencies are infiltrated by evil forces designed to make children gay and favour gay couples over nice straight ones. And the people who enforce this are NAZIS.
Categories: Politics, Sex & Sexuality |
Tags: agendas, homophobia, Littlejohn | 19 Comments
Posted by antonvowl
March 26th, 2009
Many Mail readers work in the public sector, and are diligent tax-paying citizens – decent professionals doing good for the community and earning an honest crust.
What would those Mail readers think, then, when after years of below-inflation pay rises, they are vilified for finally getting something that at first glance appears to be a good deal? When the salaries for their profession are crudely exaggerated? Is there any reason why the Mail wants to target the public sector – or pay rises in general?
And then the pesky public sector, which doesn’t make any profit at all, is allowed to give its staff pay rises!
The Mail makes it clear which side you’re supposed to take with this story:
A series of inflation busting pay rises for millions of public sector workers was given the green light yesterday – at a time when private firms are freezing wages and cutting jobs.
Private firms like the Mail. You can almost sense the seething bitterness coming off the keyboard when that was typed.
There’s another reason why this story got wheeled out when it did. It was neatly timed to coincide with an expected negative RPI inflation figure – you’ll note that RPI is all of a sudden being used as the measure of inflation by the media, now that it’s lower than the CPI figure - although as it turned out, that didn’t quite happen. It would have been a better story, though, wouldn’t it? “INFLATION’S GOING DOWN BUT PUBLIC SECTOR PAY IS GOING UP!”. Sadly not, for the Mail, but they can still claim second prize.
The implication, by the way, in that first paragraph, is that it’s only the private sector which is cutting jobs. Is it?
There appear to be more people employed by the NHS
, though that figure is of course a total number of employees, and may represent more part-time staff being taken on, with bank or agency workers being cut back, so it’s not the whole picture. There are reshuffles in the public sector going on across the country, with Sheffield Council, for example, technically making all its staff redundant
and making sure it’s not all gravy for those who remain.
Under the pay and grading review, although some staff would receive a pay rise, others in low-paid positions such as teaching assistants would be forced to take pay cuts of up to 25 per cent.
So that’s up to 25 per cent pay cut for some teaching staff. Right, I’m sure the Mail will mention this information when it looks at the big picture. It won’t, you say?
It’s not hard to find evidence of the public sector struggling through this recession. You can find stories about teachers being under threat of redundancy
and quite recently too
but then that’s only if you’re looking for it (or want to see it), isn’t it? And such matters do tend to detract if you want to creative a narrative of a lumbering, bloated public sector bleeding tax payers dry at a time when the private sector is being forced to make cutbacks.
Back to the Mail:
In a sign that Labour is unwilling to take on the unions, the Government has agreed to honour increases of more than 2 per cent a year until 2011.
How does the Mail know it’s a sign Labour is unwilling to take on the unions? This isn’t journalism; this is just someone’s opinion. Which is fine in an opinion column. But it’s not attributed to anyone and just presented as fact. There could be any number of reasons why the Government (rebranded here as “Labour” for the purposes of implying a shadowy leftist pact between unions and politicians) might think public sector workers should get more money – for example, they could think that workers deserve it after years of below-inflation pay settlements. No…? No.
Mail reporter Michael Lea could very easily have done some basic research, looked through his own archive and seen evidence of this. He could have looked, for example, at last year’s police pay settlement
which the Mail described thus:
Yesterday police leaders accepted an offer which will see pay for 140,000 officers in England and Wales rise by an average 2.6 per cent per year between now and 2010.
The rise is well below the latest inflation figure of 5.2 per cent. But Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said officers were ‘content’ with the deal which he said took account of pressures on Government spending.
The package unveiled by ministers yesterday offers nurses and other healthcare staff a 2.75 per cent increase this year, followed by smaller increases in 2009 and 2010.
Ministers hoped it would head off the threat of industrial action in the NHS following widespread anger last year over below-inflation pay rises.
You’ll notice how public-sector pay rises come about, according to the Mail, because of the spectral unions lurking in the shadows threatening strike action, and not because, you know, people might actually deserve to keep up with the cost of living (or not, as was clear). But ‘widespread anger at below-inflation pay rises’? You could be forgiven for thinking this had never happened from reading this week’s Mail article:
The three-year deals, which caused outrage yesterday among business leaders, were struck well before the recession took hold and there are mounting calls for them to be ripped up as a result of the economic meltdown.
A couple of points here. What relevance is a ‘business leader’ to public sector pay? I don’t mind if the Mail interview a teacher, a nurse or a police officer every time private sector pay rises go flying through the roof; but I have a feeling they don’t. (It would be nice, even, to have an ordinary Mail journalist comment about Paul Dacre’s £1.4million salary.) Also, as the Mail itself said at the time, those deals were struck at a time when they were considerably disadvantageous to the workers, who suffered. Did the Mail ask business leaders what they thought of the pay deals then? No. And who, exactly, is making the ‘calls’ for these deals to be ‘ripped up’? We’re never told. But apparently there are ‘calls’. I guess we’ll just have to take the Mail’s word for it, then.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: ‘The public sector is at present an entirely recession-free zone.
Apart from those people being made redundant in the public sector, John, yes, but do go on.
‘Cash-strapped private businesses are asking staff to make sacrifices to save jobs. The Government should put a clamp on public sector pay rises.’
Cash-strapped’ private businesses like Associated Newspapers (£73million profit last year), lest we forget.
Public sector pay rose by 3.7 per cent in the year to January 2009. Private sector pay fell by 1.1 per cent in the same period.
But… last year private sector pay rose by a lot more than public sector pay. It would be nonsensical to take these figures in isolation (unless you’ve got an agenda to promote, of course). Last year the Income Data Services noted:
The median pay settlement for the whole economy in the three months to the end of June 2008 is 3.5 per cent. The private sector services median is in line with the whole economy at 3.5 per cent and is some way ahead of the public sector, where the median is 2.7 per cent. The whole economy median is being held at 3.5 per cent by lower deals in the public and voluntary sectors. The latest figures for the whole economy are based on 197 settlements covering over 3.5 million employees.
Details which the Mail didn’t find space for – and which would, of course, have once again made the narrative a little more complex than the Mail might have liked.
There’s also a table, which will set alarm bells ringing with you if you’re a nurse, teacher or police officer. It’s objectively entitled THE RISING WAGES:
NURSE 1997 £21,042 NOW £31,225 2009-10 £31,974
POLICE CONSTABLE 1997 £19,261 NOW £28,405 2009-10 £29,144
TEACHER 1997 £21,313 NOW £35,121 2008-9 £35,929
It’s also handily illustrated with a picture of an attractive blonde lady to enable you to understand what a nurse might be, but that’s beside the point. Do these figures really stack up? Cunningly, the Mail makes no claims as to where these figures have come from or what they represent. Are they average salaries? Median salaries? Or what? Do the figures for ‘nurse’ include nursing assistants, or figures for teachers include teaching assistants? Given that there’s no explanation for them, there’s no way of knowing – except they do seem perplexingly high.
You can see nursing bands here
and the actual pay here
along with add-ons for working in London, for example, which aren’t extra goodies but just a way of being able to afford to live – so that skews the figures upwards a little. You can see that the highest-paid nursing staff earn £64,118 while the lowest paid earn £12,922. How, then, do you get to £31,225? First, you exclude anyone under Band 5 (all the low earners, essentially, while keeping in the £60k+ employees), then you add on unsocial hours payments (which incidentally are set to decrease over the coming years), overtime and so on. You also don’t regard part-time employees as being part-time, so if they take home £10,000 a year and work 19 hours, you consider them to be earning £20,000. The figures are here
and show a 1.6 per cent pay rise for nurses last year, when inflation was 5 per cent.
The Mail, though, keeps failing to mention last year’s good times for the private sector – and the years preceding it. And it becomes clear what it wants. It wants people to suffer:
But British Chambers of Commerce chief David Frost said: ‘Across the country I am hearing of more and more businesses left with no choice but to freeze and cut wages.
‘It is unacceptable that the public sector should not share any of this pain.’
Yes, how dare public sector workers keep jobs and not take pay cuts. They should suffer. For some reason which isn’t very well explained. But they should. They didn’t share the good times, but they must share the bad. Because…? Just because, actually. And that’s the top and bottom of it.
You have to wonder what public sector workers who loyally read the Mail every day should think of all this. Are they pleased with being told they must ’share the pain’, having shared none of the pleasure?
You also have to wonder, by the way, what Mail hacks think about not getting a pay rise when Paul Dacre raked in £1.4million last year. But judging by this evidence, do they deserve one?
Categories: Politics |
Tags: agendas, public sector pay | 26 Comments