Category Archives: Bloggers

What kind of person buys the Daily Star?

I tweeted the other day that anyone who reads the Daily Star must have the intelligence of a slug. I received quite a few responses, the majority informing me that I was being offensive to slugs, but one person who wanted to point out that his dad was an intelligent chap and read the Daily Star. I replied to this person probably dismissively- although I cannot be bothered to find the tweet – and thought no more about it.

Until now. So ‘pissed off’ was this individual that they felt the need to blog about it a while later and they pointed me in the direction of the post this morning. Essentially, his argument is this: after listening to Jim Davidson being interviewed on BBC 5Live he realised that not everyone is the two-dimensional caricature we suppose them to be, ergo it would be wrong to pre-judge people based on what they read.

A fair point, I’ll concede that not everyone who buys a tabloid newspaper is a unintelligent slug. However, my exasperated insult aimed at Daily Star readers was based on yet another front page headline that was completely fictional – not distorted, not inaccurate, but purposefully and completely invented. If that is the standard being set by the front page, what does that suggest about the standard of journalism enclosed within?

As you may be aware, the Daily Star recently appeared to throw its support behind the English Defence League, with a glowing write-up about how they were going to become a political party. For the record, the EDL did not have any firm plans to become a political party, but after the Daily Star article – and the massive phone poll support they received – they are now looking into it.

Once again, bad journalism has real consequences.

Which brings me back to any individual who buys a tabloid newspaper. As Richard Peppiatt wrote in his resignation letter to the Daily Star: news article invented in an office in London can get someone’s head caved in in Bradford. Now, as a reader of the Daily Star you might claim to not be an ignorant, hateful individual and you might instead argue that you’re a rational, intelligent human being. You might be able to rationalise why you buy it, how you see past the constant, hateful anti-Muslim (and fictional) propaganda and just enjoy the ‘fun’ articles inside or that you only read it for the sport.

But I’m not convinced by any of these arguments. I look at the average Daily Star front page and see only three consistant themes: racism, anti-Muslim propaganda and Jordan. Now, call me narrow-minded if you want, but I think that if you can still buy the newspaper in spite of this you must either be a racist, Muslim-hating Jordan fan or a complete simpleton. In either case, I can excuse you buying the Daily Star: you know not what you do.

Now, if a third type of reader does exist – in this case, the intelligent dad – then I can only point out that in purchasing the Daily Star they are funding, supporting and legitimising its agenda. I just have to wonder out loud what kind of intelligent person wants to do this. I can only think that maybe its that newspapers are like banks: we tend to stick with the one we’ve always used. Perhaps the Daily Star wasn’t always such a terrible newspaper – enlighten me in the comments if you wish – and some people are only buying it because it’s difficult to break out of an old habit.

As I pondered the other day, if the average Daily Star read Richard Peppiatt’s letter of resignation and realised that much of what they read was simply made-up by journalists at the newspaper – and in particular a lot of these stories were made up to stir-up hatred of Muslims – would they stop buying the newspaper?

Well perhaps the person who I ‘pissed off’ with my blanket accusation that all Daily Star readers were dribbling morons should make his dad read Peppiatt’s letter and see what impact his has on him. If he still intends to buy the Daily Star then I guess the most polite thing I can write about him is that he is extremely loyal.

The best thing about 2010

Five Chinese Crackers did a wonderful review of Richard Littlejohn’s ‘novel’ To Hell in a Handcart, and it really was one of the best things I have read all year. It demonstrates that not only is Richard Littlejohn a supremely untalented writer, but that he also has a huge range of really serious issues that he needs to take up with a trained councillor. I suggest that if you have not already read it that you treat yourself to a complete and utter destruction of Littlejohn. You probably have in your mind an idea of how bad a Littlejohn ‘novel’ is, but I assure you, you are nowhere near imagining what a warped, misanthropic, homophobic and racist tome it is.

So, read the following posts:

An irritable response to a blogger

I was minding my own business this afternoon when I was tweeted by someone who had suggested that ‘you should put a point of view not say the opposition make stuff up‘ and it linked to their blogpost discussing my recent post on the latest Daily Mail attack on immigrants. Basically, the writer of said blog post made the point that there was too much ‘hyperbole’ on the Internet and that:

most of these attacks come from the blogosphere. Here people seem to spend a large amount of time reading newspapers that they know they won’t agree with. This way they can then write a fatuous blog stating in no uncertain terms that everything in the paper is made up and only idiots read it.

I’ll leave this alone for the moment and move onto his real point:

The recent outrage and counter outrage over Harriet Harman’s comments about heroic immigrants sending their dole money abroad is a good example.

Probably unsurprisingly this story broke in the Daily Mail with Tim Shipman giving us the ‘facts’ and Melanie Phillips telling us Harman is ‘immoral’.

Fair enough wouldn’t you say? A news article with a few comments, mostly from Tories but it’s not like anyone is deceived as to the political slant of the Mail. Anyway, the story is about something a prominent Labour person has said so a Tory response is in line with standard journalistic practice.

Not according to the Angry Mob blog it isn’t.

Angry Mob is a website devoted to pointing out the daily lies written by the Mail. In their article More Lies About Immigrants the Shipman article is portrayed as completely misrepresenting Ms Harman’s statement. The key area of discussion was whether she was pleased immigrants were sending job seekers allowance back home or whether they were sending home part of their earnings which included benefits for low income earners.

Angry Mob was not interested in dissecting the Mail’s argument that if you are on income support or housing benefit you shouldn’t have enough money left over to send any home and that the real hero is the unassuming British tax payer who is now funding social security in Africa as well. They just claimed that the Mail made it all up and Ms Harman said nothing of the sort.

This is a shame because the Mail’s argument is pretty easy to pull apart. If people are receiving benefit for being on a low income then they are employed, paying tax, doing a job no Brit wants to do. If they can scrape by and send a few quid home then they are epitomizing the selfless behaviour the Mail now believes is lacking in our society.

Whether you agree with that or not, it is the argument that could be made.

I’m not really sure where to start. Firstly, as I have tried to get across numerous times to the passing readers of this blog, I do not read the Mail simply to write fatuous blog posts about how terrible it is. I write it because bad journalism has a real impact on all of us, it is as pervasive and as poisonous as passive smoking. Secondly, I don’t really think it is ‘fair enough’ that the Daily Mail can attack immigrants simply because it has a certain political agenda and wants to attack a senior Labour figure. It is branded as a newspaper, not a propaganda outlet for any political party; the article was sold as news but was based on a series of lies and distortions.

Frankly, the statement that responding in a ‘Tory’ way ‘is in line with standard journalistic practice’ just highlights poor journalistic practice. A journalistic is supposed to seek legitimate balance, not just open political hostility. Yes, a Tory response is obviously going to be sought out, but the job of the journalist is to put both sides of the argument into clear context so that the reader can make an informed judgement as to which view carries the most weight. In this article Shipman provides a dishonest supporting context for the Tory comments – it is a classic example of anti-journalism. I’m sure real journalists would be utterly appalled of a clearly distorted article like this.

Now, let’s go back to the Shipman article to see if my claims stand.

OK, so what benefits was Harriet Harman specifically referring to, and who was sending them home is what needs to be established. The Mail article quotes Harman:

‘There are many people in my constituency who come from Africa and work and study and bring up their families here.

‘Many of them also send money back to their village in their country of origin.’

Clearly, Harman was referring to immigrants from outside of the EU, specifically, Africans. Next, the benefits:

Some of these families will be receiving child benefit and tax credits to which they are entitled. Charitable generosity has never been confined to the well-off.

So, the benefits being discussed are child benefits – currently a universal benefit that the rich and poor receive alike, and tax credits, something received by all eligible earners.

So, this blogger looks at the Mail’s argument about those receiving ‘income support or housing benefit’ and that they shouldn’t have money left over to send abroad and claims I am not interested in discussing it. But that is the reason I have accused the Mail of spreading more lies about immigrants, income support and tax credits are two very different things. Income support is what is given to someone who cannot work – i.e. a single mother with a young child. Tax credits is the benefit available to anyone over 18 working 37 hours a week or more and earning less than £20,000 per year. Income support entitles you to full housing benefits and council tax benefits, tax credits are paid to ensure you can afford to pay your own rent and council tax because you do not get these benefits.

The Daily Mail is purposely implying that these are immigrants not working and raking in so much in benefits they can afford to send lots of money home, it is a lie, plain and simple. I did consider the Mail’s argument and I did pull apart, quite how the blogger can suggest I ignored it is beyond me. Perhaps what they mean is: ‘It is a shame you didn’t spend more time considering the utterly false argument made by the Daily Mail…’ – it didn’t need attention or time, given that it was false and I pointed out why it was false.

OK, moving on. The Daily Mail article stated that:

Harriet Harman said it should be made easier for immigrants to send benefit payments to relatives abroad.

At a meeting in her constituency, the party’s deputy leader praised claimants who funnel taxpayers’ cash to Africa as ‘hidden heroes’.

Bizarrely she claimed the practice – widely seen as an abuse of the overstretched welfare system – was a way of boosting international aid.

Taxpayers foot a £20million annual bill to pay child benefit to immigrants whose children are not even living in Britain.

Firstly, immigrants are not sending ‘benefit payments to relatives abroad’. This is a lie. They are sending money home whilst possibly – Harman only says that they might be – in receipt of working tax credits and child benefits. This means that a proportion of income sent home could be made up of some benefits. It is not – as the Mail tries so hard to imply – the case that they all get a lump sum of benefits that they just stick in the post to their relatives in Africa. Spending your own money on whatever you want is what any person is entitled to do, just as the wealthy couple can spend their Child benefits on wine if they wish and can afford to – it is their benefit, they can do what they like with it. Likewise, the working tax credit is designed to allow people to pay rent, council tax and live. If they have any income spare they can spend it on whatever they like. The point Harman was making was that it was quite heroic for them to choose to send this home rather than spend it on themselves.

This means, of course, that suggesting that sending their own money to Africa is ‘widely seen as an abuse of the overstretched welfare system’ is an absolutely disgraceful statement, utterly repellent and importantly, completely dishonest. How can receiving tax credits or child benefits to which they are entitled possibly be an ‘abuse’ of the system? The last paragraph of the above quote follows suit, given that this £20 million annual bill is incurred from migration within the EU. It is EU practice for the country that receives the taxes to pay the benefits. So, for example, if a Polish guy lives and works in the UK – so that the UK government gets all of the tax receipts, it is seen as fair that the UK government pays the benefits, even if the children of that worker live elsewhere in the EU. If a British citizen worked in Poland the same would apply.

So, obviously this has nothing to do with the specific immigrants being discussed because they are from outside the EU and therefore outside of this arrangement, this ‘abuse’ and tax bill has nothing to do with the immigrants in question, but nonetheless that Mail is blaming them anyway.

I guess my main rebuttal is this: the blogger claims I was ‘not interested in dissecting the Mail’s argument that if you are on income support or housing benefit you shouldn’t have enough money left over to send any home’. I am making it abundantly clear that this argument was utterly false, given that income and housing benefits were not what was being discussed by Harman. I made that clear in my original post, I pointed out that Harman is talking about working tax credits and child benefits that some of the immigrants might have been receiving whilst the Daily Mail shoved in different benefits that they were all getting to completely distort her points. I dismissed the Mail’s arguments because they were transparently dishonest, not because I was not interested.

As for the blogger’s closing paragraphs:

Political debate is certainly not aided by pretending that everything is a distortion just because it is accompanied by some opinion.

Perhaps if we could all just grow up and have a discussion about the issues rather than believing that everything is some sort of conspiracy people might engage again with politics.

Let me say this. If they still feel I am merely ‘pretending that everything is a distortion just because it is accompanied by some opinion’, then please get in touch because I’ll try even harder to point out that the Daily Mail is branded as a newspaper. Yes, the Melanie Phillips piece was opinion – she is a columnist and plays by slightly different rules – but the Shipman article was news; it was supposed to be based on facts, not opinions. As I have demonstrated above – selecting just a few paragraphs from Shipman’s article – Shipman does distort the views of Harman considerably – talking about different benefits entirely, and inserting EU benefits that have nothing to do with this news story. The whole article is clearly designed to feed into the media narrative that immigrants receive so much in un-earned benefits that they can send some to Africa. If this blogger still genuinely thinks ‘fair enough’ when he reads the Shipman article, then, well it seems they need to drop their frankly patronising pseudo-intellectual attitude and reflect on just what is fiction and fact both in the mainstream media and the ‘blogosphere’.

As I argued originally and have done so again here, these are benefits – universal in the case of Child benefits, an entitlement to any full-time worker earning less than £20,000 in the case of tax credits – that are a basic entitlement for any UK worker. Perhaps the Mail should run an expose next week on the full time ‘indigenous’ recipients of the working tax credit or child benefit who may dare to spend some of their own money on little luxuries for themselves or having a direct debit to Cancer research each month.


PS, please can people stop referring to me in the plural. I am one person. The Angry Mob title refers to the Kaiser Chief song, you know the one: ‘We are the Angry Mob, we read the papers every day, we like who we like, we hate who we hate, but we’re also easily swayed’. The Angry Mob is the Mail reader, not me. The amount of times I have had to explain that has made me seriously consider changing the title of this blog.

PPS, If anyone has a new name suggestion then I really am open to a name change.

Some poorly-constructed thoughts on blogging and journalism

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have realised that I was invited down to Bristol on Friday night to sit on the secondary panel of an event titled ‘What’s the blogging story?’ which was designed to be a debate on the relationship between bloggers and the media. The debate itself was reasonably interesting, albeit at times the debate seemed too wide and not a great deal was resolved or looked at in depth. This leads me to the collection of thoughts that make up this blog post.

My first thought is that the two terms – ‘bloggers’ and ‘journalists’ – are not fit for purpose and only lead to natural conflict whenever people try to grapple with the difference between the two. In order to remove this barrier we need to accept that all journalists and bloggers are writers and we should attempt to judge them purely in terms of how accomplished they are as writers – the label they write under is irrelevant.

Andrew Marr’s comments are designed to ridicule the kind of person presumed to be a blogger, rather than aiming any criticism of the actual writing that is published on blogs. Likewise, the label of journalist is no more inclusive, given the lofty connotations that the word inspires. Journalists are sometimes little more than copy-and-paste merchants regurgitating press releases or writing copy to accompany banal celebrity stories.

There are good bloggers and rubbish bloggers, just as there are good journalists and rubbish journalists. To try and pit such broad groups against each other is pointless; the only comparison that can be made is on an individual basis and the only criteria should be the quality of the writing.

It seems to me that if we consider someone a ‘blogger’ or ‘journalist’ first and a writer second we set up the debate to fail because the bloggers will always be written-off as socially inadequate ‘amateurs’ or failed journalists; whilst the journalists will either be automatically given the label of talented professional or someone who has no qualities as a writer but is happy to copy and paste MigrationWatch press releases or write several articles a day discussing the increased / decreased weight of celebrities.

My second point is that the quality of writing is always going to be impacted by the integrity of the person or organisation producing it. Good journalism is supposed to be neutral, factual and clear. Yet most journalists work for a newspaper that has a clear agenda, good journalism will not make it into print if it does not suit the editorial expectations of the newspaper.

As I tried to argue when I as given the chance to speak: it is not just a question of accuracy, it is far more important to recognise why an article is not accurate. Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News argued that newspapers produced bad journalism because of time constraints, lack of resources and staff; essentially bad journalism was an accident. I do not find this argument convincing, given that so much of the bad journalism in recent times comes not from journalistic mistakes but are driven instead by the ideology of the editor.

When the Daily Star reports the completely false story that Muslims are getting their own, exclusive toilets and that the taxpayer is picking up the tab it is not the result of journalistic incompetence, but is the product of a newspaper that seeks to whip up hatred against Muslims. Likewise, just before the event on Friday the Daily Mail deliberately took a complaint out of context to imply that an extractor fan was being blocked simply because the smell of bacon had ‘offended’ some Muslims.

This is not misinformation (accidentally giving someone false information or a false impression) but disinformation (purposefully giving someone false information or a false impression). Journalists are only required to gather the information necessary to print a story that supports the media narrative, this has little to do with time constraints or lack of journalistic skills.

I think the main point that was not made on Friday night was that whilst journalists might traditionally be trained to write objectively and to ensure their articles are clear and balanced, this seems to me to be impossible when most media outlets have such clear political bias and a range of distorted media narratives that journalists must adhere to. Whilst the independent blogger might suffer from internal false narratives and bias they at least have more chance to be objective.

That seemed to me to be one of the more interesting discussion points, which perhaps bloggers might want to take further. Who knows, perhaps bloggers might want to put on an event like this without the distraction of ‘proper journalists’?


I will write a separate post addressing Roy Greenslade’s comments on ‘media policing’ because otherwise this blog post will turn into an essay.

You can watch and listen to the full event online here (if you just want to hear the sound of my voice, skip to 54 minutes).

For a proper review / overview of Friday’s event read Jamie Thunder’s article on the EJC website.
Anton Vowl has also blogged about it here.
Roy Greenslade has also mentioned it here.
The Bristol Editor covers it here.

Momentum

There have been some good talks recently instigated by Tim Ireland over at Bloggerheads at revitalising some old websites and creating some new ones to better promote the work done by those who blog about the media. In particular it has the aim of having a website for each major tabloid newspaper that will appear as high as possible in the Google rankings; the idea being that when  a reader searches for their newspaper they will see that a website exists to monitor that newspaper’s output. Daily Mail watch is currently achieving that, but is not often updated, something that should change with the team being brought together. A new website is being created for the Daily Express and the Sun already has The Sun Lies.

To some extent it seems that momentum is slowly building and what started as disparite, frustrated bloggers is building towards something more, a joined-up approach to really promoting just how dishonest and hateful tabloid journalism is. Perhaps this has been helped by columnists like Jan Moir and her article on Stephen Gately, which received a huge amount of publicity even though it was in many ways just another horrifically spiteful, ignorant and phobic piece churned out by increasingly desperate newspapers. The veil – always pretty see-through – is really slipping as racism becomes more pronounced and lies ever easier to track down thanks to numerous blogs like this – and Google just a click away.

This is a project that will be built over the coming months and when it comes together I’ll let you know. But in the meantime some new bloggers along the same lines as this blog have sprouted up which you should check out:

Iain Dale: Bullshitter

According to Wikio Iain Dale is the most influential blogger in the UK. This is disappointing, not only because he talks shit about immigration and repeats tabloid lies, but also because he is far more a political spinner than a real blogger. For example, his comments regarding the BBC election night exit poll were as follows:

So the exit poll shows the Tories on 307 seats, 19 short of an overall majority. Don’t panic chaps and chapesses. My view is that by 4am this poll will have been shown to be wrong. It seems too incredible to be true that the LibDems are only predicted to get 59 seats. I’ll run naked down Whitehall if that turns out to be true.

Like the majority of people that comment on this post I can clearly see that Iain means: ‘if the Liberal Democrats don’t get more than 59 seats I will run naked down Whitehall.’ He is, of course, referring to the pre-election polls that had the Liberal Democrats far higher than previous elections and the expectations that this would lead to an increase in seats.

In a follow up post Iain Dale makes this clear calling it ‘an astonishing night… what no one predicted was the disastrous night the LibDems have experienced’, and points out that they will end up with fewer seats than last time. So, surely Iain Dale will now be running naked down Whitehall as promised?

No, of course not, because Iain Dale is a bullshitter. Laughably he is claiming that he would only need to fulfill the promise only if the Liberal Democrats end up with exactly 59 seats, rather than his real original meaning, which was that he couldn’t believe the LibDems would end with 59 seats or fewer:

The LibDem performance was all over the place. They lost many more seats to the Conservatives than anyone thought, but still managed to gain several seats too – Wells, Eastbourne and Solihull being three. They also won several Labour seats like Redcar and Norwich South. They have also lost a lot of seats in the South West to the Conservatives. Bizarre. I just hope they don’t end up on 59 seats, as the exit poll predicted, otherwise I might have a rather unpleasant duty to perform (see post below).

If you wanted to try and maintain any credibility as a real blogger at all you would admit that this wasn’t what you meant at all and you should be preparing yourself for a spot of naked jogging. More top blogging from Britain’s ‘best’.

The Angry Mob

I’ve been meaning to write about the title of my blog for some time because it appears a few people just don’t understand it. The premise is simple: I took the title from the Kaiser Chief song ‘Angry Mob’ that included the lyrics:

We are the angry mob
We read the papers everyday day
We like who like
We hate who we hate
But we’re also easily swayed

Therefore the Angry Mob does not refer to me, the writer of this blog, nor does it mean that I am more than one person. Some people seem to think that Angry Mob was chosen because it refers to a group of people writing about the tabloids. No, it refers to the tabloid readers, the mob who read the tabloids solely to have their buttons pushed, to be fed who to like and who to hate.

I chose the title of the blog after working with an organisation that had the Daily Mail delivered everyday. I had never paid much attention to tabloid journalism before then, I thought it was all irrelevant, beyond a joke and that no-one could really take it seriously. However, seeing the same people crowd around each new copy of the Daily Mail at the start of the day really opens your eyes to the reality of what tabloid newspapers do.

Barely a day would start without the same people getting instantly angry about one minority group after another: ‘bloody immigrants’, ‘bloody gypsies’, ‘bloody gays’, ‘bloody fat cats’, ‘bloody young people’, ‘have you seen how much they get’… and so on.

Two things struck me:

  • 1, you don’t have to be an abhorrent person to repeat abhorrent views
  • 2, you can have a strong view of a group of people or issue about which you know nothing

I therefore began reading the Daily Mail with increasing disgust at the lies, hatred and just pure negativity that dripped from each story. Britain was broken, we need to return to a mythical vision of the 1950s seemed to the be the overarching ideology around which the newspaper was based. Attacks on women, gays, ethnic minorities, the disabled, the poor and the young were regularly wheeled out as evidence that things in Britain were really bad and getting worse.

Yet I just didn’t recognise the world being painted. It bore no relation to where I had lived, or where I currently live. It didn’t bear any relation to the world in which my colleagues lived, which in some senses shone light on the issue: if they don’t know any immigrants, how can they counter what they read in the paper? But that is perhaps missing the point: it seemed to me that they took a perverse pleasure in being angry. They enjoyed picking up the Daily Mail because they wanted to put the world to rights amongst friends at the start of the working day. They didn’t want to stop and think about whether they were rightfully angry, they just assumed that was the case.

In a strange way the Daily Mail provided them with some kind of comforting familiarity. No matter what was happening in their personal life – positive or negative – they could rest assured the good old Daily Mail would give them the chance to rant about something. And this happened every day, I would sit quietly at my desk and listen to the morning rant against whichever target the Daily Mail had picked that day.

I once made the mistake of trying to interject during one of these rants, only to immediately regret the futility of such action. I remember it so clearly, it was during the Mail scare stories on ‘increasing’ knife crime and the reader commented: ‘It’s awful, and it’s always them* doing the stabbing and committing the crime’ (meaning ethnic minorities). At this point I quietly pointed out that you can’t possibly say that all crime and knife crime is carried out by ethnic minorities, as we know recent cases for example have involved white offenders. ‘Oh I know they said.’ Followed by a reflective pause: ‘But it is though isn’t it?’.

At which point I sat stunned at the act of self-deception and the power of having no experience of a certain issue and allowing yourself to fully swallow the Daily Mail perception / deception. Instead of replying or arguing further, I created Angry Mob. A blog title not about me, but about the Angry Mob buying tabloid newspapers to give them an excuse to vent hatred towards other people.

And this brings me rambling to the point of talking about this now; the recent attacks on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. People, including myself, are curious as to how this will pan out: will it destroy the Liberal Democrats’ election bid, or it will it boost it? Tabloids regularly change their targets of attack and readers are happy to go along with them. However, not many people outside of the hardened readers really take them seriously and a significant proportion of people see being the victim of a Daily Mail smear campaign as a badge of honour. If your values conflict with the values of the Daily Mail, then your values are obviously worth supporting.

I don’t believe the tabloids are a fraction as powerful as they used to be, and I believe that social media is starting to have a significant impact on people’s willingness to do what they want. Twitter for example, isn’t as much as a mob as is depicted. Rather it is a system that allows you to interact with people with whom you share common values, beliefs and opinions. Because it is easy to follow people who are like yourself gives you confidence that you’re not alone, you’re not necessarily wrong and that you shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to stand up for what you believe in. You might be surrounded by tabloid reading racists, your parents could be die-hard Richard Littlejohn fans; but it doesn’t matter if you’re able to share ideas, opinions and arguments with people who don’t think this those that physically surround you.

A simple retort to this idealised view would be to point out that a collection of people agreeing with you does not mean your views are correct or even desirable (Facists can just as easily unite on Twitter as Liberals). But this ignores how Twitter works: generally you exchange evidence as much as opinion. If you write rubbish on Twitter it is easy to link to articles that demonstrate that you’re writing rubbish. If you use Twitter you often have a blog, again, blogging is evidence based, linked and sourced in order to avoid being destroyed by other bloggers. This makes Twitter a better barometer of informed opinion because the uninformed are easy to weed out or correct through the sharing of evidence.

It gives me great hope that Twitter seems to be disliked by the Daily Mail, precisely for the same reason that the Liberal Democrats should be pleased to be attacked by the Daily Mail: because neither shares the abhorrent values of the Daily Mail. Increasingly it seems people are prepared to choose hope over fear and evidence-based reasoning over stereotypes, conditioned irrationality and misplaced faith. The Daily Mail and the Conservative Party can continue to demand we be ever tougher on crime as a society; with longer sentences, more prison spaces and more people sent to prison. Yet we can see that such an approach just doesn’t work; it might please the Daily Mail (which is why Labour tried it) but it doesn’t reduce crime and upon release prisoners are highly likely to re-offend, so what exactly has been achieved?

It seems to me that people are fed up with the same tired old policies, wheeled out by politicians who are not ordinarily the right people to be making these decisions. Take for example the Labour government ignoring the evidence from drug experts when classifying cannabis, they ignored the experts and listened to the Daily Mail. They choose irrational fear over evidence.

If the Liberal Democrats get into power as a result fo this election there is one thing that we can be certain about: they will not need to pander to any of the tabloid press during their reign because their election would have nothing to do with them. When they have already had their leader treated as if he was the devil, what notice would they take of the Daily Mail and co on other issues?

It seems to me we will only have true democracy in this country when policies are selected and driven forward because they are in the best interests of the country, and drawn up by those in the best position to make those decisions. The current system allows any ray of hope or fairness to be crushed by newspaper smears; as politicians back down to appease the editors they have always needed to get elected or to serve another term.

Vote for the party whose policies you like*: the rest is just hype or smears.


* Incidentally, if people voted just based on policies the results would be as follows (according to 161,465 completed surveys):

  • Green Party 27%
  • Liberal Democrats 18.11%
  • Labour 17.70%
  • Conservatives 16.50%
  • UKIP 10.85%
  • BNP 9.84%

Now that result would really drive the Daily Mail mad…

A Richard Littlejohn Fan Writes…

A while back whilst posting about Richard Littlejohn I pondered over what sort of person actually reads his made up tripe and thinks: ‘Yes! Richard Littlejohn is really telling it like it is, I believe his output.’ I suggested that I had found a Littlejohn believer after Barry Faulkner posted this comment on my blog:

I like him,,,, but then i’m probably from the same generation and views. This country is sliding downward at an ever faster pace. You need ppl like Littlejohn to speask their mind and say what the vast majority are thinking

Furthermore I visited the link to Barry’s blog and concluded that he was exactly the kind of semi-literate, gullible, ranting tool that laps up not just Littlejohn’s fact free content, but the entire message of the Daily Mail. From further comments posted under the same article I can see that a few of you have visited his angry rantings and posted some highlights. Obviously Barry has seen the increase in traffic and found my original post, which he has taken the time to respond to:

Thanks for not publishing my replies…..typical …say wht you want and silence any other views.

Considering I have never used comment moderation I found this published comment rather humorous, especially because it revealed perfect Littlejohn paranoia: that although the vast majority of the mainstream press is slightly to the right of Hitler; somehow the left actually dominates discourse and someone silences any other views… although we can find these views every day in the Mail, Express, Sun, Telegraph and so on. Seems the left – including me, presumably, for publishing Barry’s comment – is doing a pretty bad job of suppressing dissent.

Still, Barry is nothing if not a trier and he managed to get not one, but two comments past my non-existent moderation:

Well, first off thanks for promoting my blog…. but if you are going to call me an idiot then get a few facts right…I have no truck with the far right and certainly am not a ‘ diversity Nazi’ my blog asks for arguments and comments so let’s dispel that lie from you.

At no point did I call Barry a ‘Diversity Nazi’, here is what I actually said:

He’s the sort of person that could probably sit there with a straight face and argue that people interested in equality and fairness for all human beings are actually ‘diversity nazis’.

So Barry, get your facts straight, I wasn’t calling you a ‘diversity Nazi’, I was calling you an ignorant half-wit who was probably stupid enough to use the term on others. You know, I could be a ‘diversity Nazi’ by being fond of our multi-cultural society and accepting of people who are different to me, whilst at the same time suppressing comments on my blog from right-wing basket cases as if I were a Nazi suppressing free speech. Of course, I do not moderate my comments, so the accusation would not be accurate, but I hope you understand the point I am making all the same.

Kendo needs to check facts before deriding them and both Subtle and JB need to do the same. C M Carter goes to my blog but can’t be arsed to read it….perhaps he goes to library but can’t be arsed to take out a book…I don’t hide behind pseudonyms and snipe and I would think that under your lefty constitution I would get more than a set of crayons in my old age…how about a large piece jigsaw and a colouring book…so please get things right before posting… now you must all be very tired with your childish sniggering so go get your nappies changed and have a little sleep. And if all you can fault is my placing. of . full stops. get a life.

As for the rest of the comment, I really am at a loss. Like reading your blog I can barely make any kind of sense of this Virginia-Woolf-on-speed stream of consciousnous. If you’re going to call me names, at least take the time to make sure I know I am being insulted. Your comment should be aiming to upset or belittle me, not make me rather smugly point out that yes, Littlejohn’s fans really are thick enough to believe him.

If you are at all representative of Littlejohn’s fan club I can finally understand why you want him to be PM, call him a genius and genuinely think that Littlejohn is the satirical heir to Oscar Wilde (without the overt gayness of course). Compared to you, he is a bloody genius and a fantastic writer because he can generally put commas and full stops in the right place and although his childish arguments can be torn apart with a quick Google search or simply by the reader having a double-figure braincell count – at least we can vaguely understand them. As opposed to the incomprehensible gibberish you spout or your blog and in my comments section.

Still, at least you finally have evidence that New Labour are hell bent on only employing immigrants, if I may quote a recent blog post of yours (titled: ‘Its a fact Brown‘ [sic]);

Whilst our young people waste away in the benefit wilderness….one million nine hundred thousand UK jobs have gone to immigrant labour since Labour took control in 1997 Fact.

I’ll just kindly you point you in the direction of the following blog posts:

Of course, if you find those links all a bit to confusing – being referenced, factual, adult blog posts may come as quite a culture shock to a Littlejohn reader – then why not hop over to Littlejohn’s latest column. In it he is correcting the entire aviation industry with his superior knowledge of jet engines and ash, as well as correcting the entire scientific community (apart from the ones working for oil companies) on global warming: which as we all know is a myth because we had some snow over Christmas.

For those of you reading this who are not Barry Faulkner, remember: you might think there is no-one stupid enough to really believe what the tabloids print, but sadly there is, and his name is Barry Faulkner.


If you feel you can help Barry overcome his addiction to Richard Littlejohn, please contact him via his blog (WARNING: not safe for braincells).

Dizzy Thinks and the Technically Brilliant Sun

I noticed that Dizzy Thinks had a few things to say about this blog and people who whinge about The Sun the other day and I thought I’d offer some kind of response to the points he made.

Firstly, he seems to find it amusing that people dislike The Sun:

I see the Sun celebrating its “40th birthday” (Murdoch buy-out was year zero I think) is causing some frothing on some blogs. Whether its the likes of Tim Ireland complaining about Page Three in a way that reveals more about his own condescending view about the intelligence of Sun readers than anything else. Or simply general whining about how they’ve crossed the line in attacking Gordon Brown personally whilst simultaneously ignoring the Mirror engaging in similar attacks on Cameron’s (both of which as enjoyable to watch I should add), the message is clear. The Sun is EVIL!

I imagine some of the ‘frothing’ about The Sun’s celebration has to do with the fact that The Sun represents some of the worst aspects of tabloid journalism. It is the personal propaganda sheet for a wealthy media mogul, its editor and journalists are little more than pawns and it shows with the slant that is applied to all of its content. It revels in xenophobia, racism and homophobia. It lies a lot – like most of the tabloid press – in order to distort the world to fit its own agenda. These, I would argue are valid points to get a bit pissed-off when smug Sun journalists appear on your TV and inform you about what a wonderful and respected organ of the press it is.

Secondly he describes this blog as ‘a site that appears to specialise in moaning about the right wing press’. If he’d taken the time to read a few posts or dig around he might have perhaps re-phrased that slightly. He might have felt compelled to mention that – although I do occasionally rant a little – the bulk of this website is dedicated to demonstrating how the tabloid press (focusing on the Daily Mail) lies to construct a world-view that just does not correspond to reality.

Moaning implies that I’m just another whinger who doesn’t try to bring about change. I would argue that the fact I have taken the time to produce this blog, to write down my thoughts on why the Daily Mail writes as it does, and why some people feel compelled to believe it, shows that I am more than just a whinger. In some small way I am trying to change the way tabloid journalism sets agendas and spreads lies about minority groups. The ‘Angry Mob’ title of this blog refers to the readers of the tabloid press – the Angry Mob that is fed by lies and distortions – not myself. The group that picks up their tabloid newspaper just so that they can be enraged about something – irrespective of whether there is any truth in the stories they are outraged over.

The remainder of Dizzy’s post is below in full:

Uponnothing considers the Sun journalists and writers to be “utterly fucking shit”. When I read it I was reminded of the tale in Stick it up your Punter which chronicled a time when Sun hacks swapped jobs with hacks from a quality paper – can’t recall which. The Sun guys found the swap easy, the quality paper guys just couldn’t, if you pardon the pun, hack it.

The reason? Anyone can ramble on writing up a news story in 1000+ words. Doing it in 50 takes skill though. Just take any random day and have a look at a Sun leader and compare it to a Guardian one. They could even be making the same point but the former will be succinct whilst the latter will be waffle – not much different to the blog posts of some of those that moan about Sun funnily enough.

People may not like the political agenda of the Sun. They may feel that the Sun readership needs to be ‘educated coz they is thick init’ into realising that the girl with her tits out doesn’t really know about quantitative easing and campaigning is a matter of justice and truth goddamit! However, thinking that that the people that work and write for the Sun are shit misses the point of how difficult it actually is to do what they do compared to the so-called “quality press”.

He makes a perfectly valid point: The Sun could be written by a gifted set of writers and perhaps I am wrong to label them as ‘utterly fucking shit’. However, whether the writing is technically good is different to it being ‘good’ in my mind. For example, should I enjoy reading an article full of lies about immigration or snide ‘humorous’ digs at homosexuality because it happens to be a technically brilliant example of tabloid writing? Or should I remain saddened that people want to buy a paper that feeds them on a diet of such articles and pissed-off that a talented writer should sell their soul to write them?

If you are a talented writer and you work for The Sun I wonder if you’d really be proud about what you do – no matter how technically brilliant your work is. Can you look at an article wheeling out the same tired lies about ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and immigrants being ‘showered’ with benefits and be satisfied with what you have written because it is short and snappy? Somehow I was under the impression that accuracy counts in journalism, that truth matters as much as style. Dizzy seems to think not, he doesn’t even address the fact that The Sun and the tabloid press are an virtually unregulated body that can treat facts as an inconvenience to be overlooked or crushed out of all recognition and crammed into their one-agenda-fits-all editorial requirements.

I read an interesting and revealing article in The Times this week where Kelvin MacKenzie visits a tabloid newspaper created and edited by Oxbrigde students. Remember, Kelvin MacKenzie is the Sun editor responsible for the entirely false Hillsborough headlines that stopped virtually all sales of the Sun in Liverpool to this day. He is also the man responsible for the Sun headline: ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’ (as Dizzy would probably be keen to point out: a technically brilliant headline, regardless of the fact that it was completely made up).

In the article MacKenzie recalls a story about hiring only Oxford and Cambridge graduates during his days editing The Sun. The story seems to nicely sum up the journalistic standards of the Sun and other tabloids:

Satisfied that my bold move would take The Sun to a higher plain I waited for the results. They were not forthcoming. In fact, very little emerged from my new hirelings. Most disappointing.

I had to get to the bottom of this. It became clear that with their keen and analytical minds they had made a fatal mistake – they had continued investigating every story to the point where they had satisfied themselves that there was no story at all. This would not do.

I called in one of the super-brains and and explained a philosophy that had served me well over the years. The reporter leant forward with an earnest look as I told him the secret: if a story sounded true it probably was true and should therefore appear in the paper or there would be lots of white, unexplained spaces.

So there you have it, the magic ingredient in tabloid journalism is to not care about the truth. The consequences of this approach are the countless repetition of lies about minority groups, ‘elf ‘n’ safety gone mad’, ‘they’ve banned Christmas!’ and all the other shite that tabloids either make up or don’t bother fact-checking before going to print.

If the writers working for The Sun really are talented and bright, then it seems to make their articles worse because they are not the result of journalistic incompetence, but rather a cynically calculated distortion of the truth. The relentless scare-mongering and radicalisation of the tabloid reading masses seems to imply that sometimes humanity would benefit from more substance and less style. Dizzy might do well to ponder the same when considering his own ‘snappily written’ tabloid blog posts.