Daily Mail lie fools Grant Shapps

In October last year the Daily Mail claimed that even in spite of cuts Manchester City council had decided to hire a ‘Twitter and Facebook tsar’ for £38,000 a year. Grant Shapps – Minister of State for Housing & Local Government – believed this news story and earlier Tweeted his lack of sympathy for Manchester City council:

Extraordinary! Manchester threatens to sack 2k staff while employing a Twitter Tzar & a Chief Exec who earns £90k more than the PM.

This Tweet was then read out on the Radio 4 PM programme, as essentially being the government response to the complaints of Manchester City council. The trouble is, like most Steve Doughty articles, the story was complete rubbish. The article even admitted that ‘the new media communications manager will also have responsibility for all the council’s internet-based communications’. So, the council employed one person to manage all of the council’s websites, not just to manage Facebook and Twitter.

It is embarrassing that government ministers insult the public by doing so little research into their public proclamations.

Radio 4 corrected the mistake during the same programme saying:

The council have been onto us to tell us that they’ve have never employed such a person, though they do have a website manager which the Daily Mail referred to as a ‘Twitter tsar’ last October. We’ve checked with Grant Shapps’ department and they said the newspaper report is what he based his comments on. So that’s all clear.

Grant Shapps has not managed an apology, nor has he retracted his comments. He really needs to do this as soon as possible, and in future he really needs to not use the Daily Mail as a source. It appears he is happy to defend local government cuts with lies from the Daily Mail.

9 thoughts on “Daily Mail lie fools Grant Shapps

  1. That term “Twitter Tsar” was used in a BBC North West Tonight article yesterday. Apparently, the BBC news article reported this person was on £40k a year now.

    Like the Winterval myth, this sounds like a small nugget of hogwash that will refuse to die quietly.

  2. How can someone who earns £38k a year earn £90k more than the PM? I know Cameron is loaded but surely he isn’t paying £52k out of his own pocket to be prime minister

  3. Meanwhile, of course, thousands (millions?) of gullible Mail readers will go to their graves believing this nonsense. Job done.

  4. I’ve asked Grant Shapps (via Twitter, natch) whether he thinks the Government should sack the joint No 10 / Cabinet Office “head of digital communications” Rishi Saha before any other Whitehall jobs go.

    So far no reply is forthcoming, but then until the election Mr Saha was the Conservative Party’s head of digital communications so maybe there are different rules for him.

    Anyhow, this is just another example of DCLG ministers basing their comments on made-up stories from the Daily Mail – see also Eric Pickles on Winterval…

  5. This constant bashing of people with over salaries that are more than the Prime Minister’s obviously plays well with the likes of the Daily Mail, but it’s really just a Tory version of the politics of envy, trying to suggest that people who do certain jobs aren’t worth what they’re paid.

    And the comparison, of course, is not really that accurate; I rather doubt that the Chief Exec of Manchester Council has access to the same comprehensive system of allowances as an MP, one of the things that enables ministers to make a noble show by refusing pay rises.

    Nor, of course, does being CE of a council tend to come with not just free accommodation in the city, but also the use of a country house and its staff, or indeed a virtually guaranteed book deal afterwards.

    I don’t believe in paying really excessive salaries, but these false comparisons with the PM really are silly

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