So this was written a few weeks ago, and then I went on holiday. So it’s a bit out of date now, but considering I took the time to write it, I thought might as well post it… Better late than never and all that.
So the phoney General Election campaign is under way, and worryingly we have another 70 odd days to sit through.
One thing we can be sure of is that the right wing press (so most of it) are going to spend the next three months personally attacking Labour’s Ed Miliband. The vitriol and abuse has already been unpleasant and ferocious.
The Guardian Newspaper’s Roy Greenslade explains it well here:
But what we witnessed last week has gone to a new low, and just highlights how little has changed in the behaviour of our Press since the Leveson enquiry and report. It is quite clear that Leveson has been ignored and that there remains something rotten at the core of our Press.
Whatever your politics, and whatever you think of Labour’s embattled leader Ed Miliband (yeah he is a bit weird) it is hard to defend two stories this week. Both from the Daily Mail which were quite simply wrong. Firstly we had a front page splash that Miliband, after a week of his attacks on tax dodgers and HSBC, had dodged tax on his parents’ house! LINK what a hypocrite cries the Mail! Except he didn’t avoid tax on the house. It was sold in 1995 and full tax was paid on the sale, so he didn’t avoid any tax.
The Guardian explains the situation here: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/12/did-ed-miliband-avoid-inheritance-tax-parents-home-deed-of-variation
Then a few days later we had Miliband comparing tax avoidance to the Milly Dowler murder! LINK
How horrific to try and make political capital over a young girl’s murder. Except he didn’t say it. Nor did anyone associated with him. In fact it was BBC Political Correspondent (and former President of Conservative Youth Group…) Nick Robinson who suggested the link (LINK). Once Robinson explained what he meant, that he was not quoting any Labour person, did the Mail (and other publications, as they were not alone) correct their reports or apologise to Milliband?? No, of course they didn’t.
In fact the next day it continued. Despite Nick Robinson explaining that it hadn’t been said by Labour aides or Milliband, the Daily Mail still published a piece by Amanda Platell repeating both the above stories as if they were true (despite them both being fundamentally wrong). LINK
Here is Huffington Post’s take on the issue: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/02/13/milly-dowler-row-over-mil_n_6676728.html
So now it’s not just personal attacks on Milliband. It’s not just digging up any stories to attack a Leader of the Opposition, but now it is making up stories and not correcting factual inaccuracies.
Is this the behaviour of a ‘free’ and independent press?? Is this who we want holding our Government to account?
And of course it’s not only the Daily Mail. And it’s not only Milliband. Recently comedian Russell Brand has been attacking the corporations, the press and trying to stand up for the small guy. This time it is The Sun who has taken up against him and had him on the front cover (and not in a positive way) – including attacking him personally because his Landlord doesn’t pay tax (or avoids paying tax). Why is Russell Brand responsible for what his Landlord does? How is that relevant to his beliefs and protests?
As if this isn’t enough, we’ve now have Peter Oborne making some startling and very worrying claims about the Telegraph, while resigning from working for the newspaper.
While I would hardly say I am a fan, I always found him honest and thorough. If true, this just shows what a sorry state our ‘free’ press is currently in.
He claims that as the Telegraph takes huge advertising money from HSBC, editorially they have tapered their attacks on their very dodgy tax dealings.
His Oborne’s piece in full: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph
A quick look at recent coverage does appear to back Oborne up, but this is pretty outrageous when you consider the Telegraph’s reaction to the Leveson proposals (link)
It just goes to show that despite Leveson, there remains something rotten at the heart of the UK’s ‘free’ press.
Here’s a good piece by Roy Greenslade on the telegraph advertising issue and the alternatives: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/18/peter-oborne-ads-press-freedom-telegraph-hsbc?CMP=twt_gu