There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Journalism…

(…with apologies to Mark Twain…)

This may be my last post for some time. As I say above, I’m moving house tomorrow and will have no Internet connection for a while.

So, the labour expenses “scandal” – isn’t it just awful? Well, no, probably not. What it is is a bunch of figures, mostly taken in isolation and cherry-picked by the egregiously politically-dishonest hacks at the Torygraph** to make Labour politicians look bad (while ignoring the Tories who are,  undoubtedly, no better).

This is a classic example – sadly, it’s from Andrew Rawnsley, in the Observer, and it shows clearly how misrepresentation of only part of the facts distorts the truth. Frankly, from a journalist of Rawnsley’s standing, this is a disgrace, and makes me wonder, in his Obs article about politicians’ expenses today, how much faith I can have in the other figures he’s tossing around.

He says this:-

“Over 26 months, the taxpayer parted with £6,577 to pay for the char who cleaned up after Gordon Brown”

Frankly, that’s bullshit. It’s the sort of unquestioning, anti-Labour bollocks one might expect from the Torygraph. Put like that it looks, to the ill-informed (who, sadly, seem to make up the bulk of the electorate, judging by the comments in the media of late), like a hell of a lot for a cleaner, but it’s nothing of the sort.

That sum, assuming 30 days to the month (without knowing dates that’s the only way to do it), equates to the services of one cleaner for 1.5 hours or so per day, assuming the minimum wage. The minimum wage is £5.73 per hour and, as a cleaner working for the PM is working in a politically-sensitive environment, I would expect a higher rate of pay. So maybe that’s just one cleaner for one hour per week. Either way, by what possible measure is that excessive?

I’m disabled, and were I to hire a cleaner (something I shall have to do before much longer), it would cost me about £7.50 per hour for an agency cleaner, so I have no problems at all with Gordon Brown including the above sum in his expenses claim. It’s eminently justifiable.

The question is, if Rawnsley, in a politically-neutral paper like the Obs can – deliberately or not, I have no idea (if it’s accidental it makes him look pretty damn stupid) – misrepresent the facts, in this way, to make Brown look bad, what kind of a morally-bankrupt hatchet job must the Torygraph be doing? After all, the average punter will take those figures at face value, rather than get out a calculator to see what they really mean.

Much of what’s been published about Labour MP’s expenses is little more than dinner-party gossip masquerading as journalism, and the hacks don’t even have the excuse of being pissed on cheap plonk. Or maybe they are…

And, dear reader, let us not forget the blatantly cynical, toxic, torrent of lies, from David Freud, that the Torygraph happily published about Incapacity Benefit claimants not too long ago. This is a newspaper with the moral rectitude of a dead skunk, so please, don’t swallow – whole and unquestioning – their current deluge of bullshit. Do check the facts for yourselves. And ask yourself why the silence on the question of the Tory expenses, or the Lib Dems? Remember, too, that all the information that the Torygraph has dishinestly obtained was scheduled for publication in a month or so anyway**, so there are no secrets in there – just deeply cynical manipulation of the facts by a once proud newspaper that has become a scurrilous rag.

So here’s a thought – wait until publication, when you will have all the facts, and do NOT rush to judgement based on the politically-biased rantings of the Torygraph. To quote Terry Pratchett, regarding the Torygraph “The truth shall make you fret!”.

And finally, I’ve just heard, on the radio, some LibDem woman MP whining about Labour, and saying that just because the Labour expenses are within the rules, that’s no excuse. What planet is this stupid woman on? If the expenses are within the rules then, like it or not, there is no case to answer.There may be a case for changing the rules, but as long as the rules are applied properly – as they seem to have been here, despite the Torygraph’s hysteria (and anyone who thinks the Torygraph doesn’t have a political agenda must have been living in a very deep cave for a very long time), there is no crime.

No harm, no foul. Except within the pointy heads of Torygraph hacks and editors. I’d love to see their expenses claims!

** Note for non-UK readers, the Torygraph is the Telegraph.

One thought on “There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Journalism…

  1. Despite the events since I wrote this, I still stand by it. Almost no-one actually broke the rules, they just worked the system, as does almost everyone who is allowed to claim expenses. You can argue that this was unworthy of someone who is running the country, but you cannot say it was dishonest, not for the most part.

    And let’s not lose sight of one major fact, that the Telegraph would like you to overlook – the vast majority of MP’s simply weren’t involved.


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