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Category: Neil Rants

On tuition fees and how the Tories and Labour both love this issue…

Oh tuition fees. The millstone around the neck of the Lib Dems. We all know what happened. The Lib Dems pledged not to vote for an increase in tuition fees. They then joined in a coalition and part of the deal was tuition fees would go up. Everyone got mad and hated Nick Clegg and his party and then they voted en masse to evict the party from parliament in 2015.

Everyone rejoiced. The Lib Dems were cast in the wilderness and it allowed the Tories to seek a hard line right-wing agenda. You see there are many universal truths but one is that people don’t care if others are arseholes. They just don’t want those they trusted to betray them.

For example, we all know about the bad boy stereotype. Some women gravitate towards bad boys. They know exactly what they are getting into. The highs will be high but the lows will be low. He’ll wine and dine them but suddenly not be available when needed. This is the the Conservative Party is a nutshell. We all know what they are like but we’ll let them get away with a lot because we knew what they are like.

When the Lib Dems joined with the Tories to provide a strong and stable government. Yes I used those adjectives on purpose. It was like the Lib Dems were a bad boy but we thought they were one of the good ones. We didn’t like the fact that they pretended to be a good boy and turned out to be bad. So to punish them we took them to sling their hook and got together with that bad boy once again. We know they’ll screw us over but so be it, better to be screwed over by someone we knew was going to screw us over, right?

I used the word screw three times in a sentence. I don’t think that is good English.

So even though the Tories were the driving force behind putting up tuition fees, they skated free on the issue because we knew what they were. The electorate expected them to do bad things and as long as they do what we thought they were going to do, we are happy to let them do it. Tuition fees was a huge win for the Tories and it was also a huge win for Labour.

Labour were able to act all pious, forgetting the fact it was Labour who first introduced and then trebled tuition fees when they held massive majorities and weren’t a junior partner in a coalition. The media swept that under the carpet. No-one needs to know political history. Instead they decided to was time for Lib Dem pinata as they were an easy target. The fact the Lib Dems put more of their manifesto into law than the Tories did was a mere footnote. n one issue they were forced into a u-turn and that was enough for five years of lazy journalism before all but three national newspapers endorsed another Tory-Lib Dem coalition.


So after five years of saying how terrible the Lib Dems were, editors and media owners were all saying, ‘you know what, we were a bit harsh on the Lib Dems, they actually did a pretty good job and kept the Tories in check. They weren’t so bad. Maybe if they did this for another five years it wouldn’t be so bad. Honest.’

Even today the BBC News had two headline stories on the Lib Dem manifesto. One was on the Brexit Referendum (fair enough) and the other was the fact the Lib Dems weren’t calling for tuition fees to be culled. So one of the two stories was about something not in the manifesto. Why did the BBC decide to run this story? Is it because it was pertinent to today’s news? God no. It was all to do with lazy and easy journalism. The media had built up a narrative about the party. Just attack the Lib Dems for tuition fees. People like that story and aren’t sick of it so its an easy win.

You see these days journalism isn’t about getting to the heart of the matter. Not about finding out the truth. It is about getting eyeballs and page clicks. Give the people what they want. People want to say the Lib Dems are bad so lets give them that. If like me you often watch old episodes of Mock The Week on Dave when falling asleep, you’ll see the comedians falling over themselves to make Lib Dem/Nick Clegg jokes. It was easy and would get laughs. The fact many of them are naturally not exactly right-wing had to get thrown away. Easy laughs above personal feelings.

Now we have a right-wing government that is only going to drift further right. The reason for this is the media have decided we know what the Tories are so just leave them to it. Smash the Lib Dems because it is funny. Attack Jeremy Corbyn because he’s different and there we have it. So simple. So easy. It reinforces what the public think and the more those thoughts get reinforced then the more people’s opinions will get hardened.

The Tories loved tuition fees because it allowed the media and public to go off on the Lib Dems. Labour loved tuition fees because it allowed them to pick up Lib Dem voters. The fact it allowed the Tories to pick up more than them is by-the-by. They didn’t care. As long as they crushed the party that dared become part of a government then who cares what happens next?

Tuition fees was a small issue in the Lib Dem manifesto which was blown out of all proportion because both the major parties thought it would help them long term. Are people right to be angry over the tuition fees issue? Sure. I can’t tell people how to feel and what to be mad over but all I would say did you vote for a political party based solely on one aspect of their manifesto?

If you did then fair enough. I’d prefer to read through all the manifestos to find which party would overall do what I think would be best. Do I agree with every single aspect of the 2017 Lib Dem manifesto? No. No I don’t but I won’t say that because one paragraph goes against what I think, I’ll sit on my hands or vote for someone else. That seems very short-sighted. I know of a Lib Dem member who calls himself a passionate saboteur and cares deeply about stopping Brexit, who is considering voting Tory because the Lib Dems want to legalise cannabis. I mean really…?

Political parties stand on a wide and varied platform. If they win, they’ll attempt to get as much of that manifesto done as they can. Sometimes they fall short on many issues but just because they don’t tick every box, it doesn’t mean they are awful and untrustworthy. Yet if you listen to the narrative that is true of the Lib Dems and tuition fees. It isn’t true of the Tories or Labour because well, who cares? Lib Dems are untrustworthy and the media keep reminding us of that so it must be true.

The media allow the Tories and to a lesser degree Labour fall short of manifesto pledges because it won’t fan the flames as much. Tuition fees was an easy open goal for five years. The fact they are still going to that well in 2017 says everything about the media. They want two party politics. It makes their lives so much easier. The quicker they can get rid of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens and the Lib Dems the better. As for the medias view of UKIP, it is similar to the Lib Dems, they are an easy open goal so happy to keep going to that well. UKIP bring eyeballs and clicks. That is all they care about these days…

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Did I miss the memo that high school proms are newsworthy?

I am now three weeks into my self-imposed ‘I will buy and read the local newspaper – the Southend Echo every Monday-Friday’ commitment. I have to admit that the £6.75 I have spent on doing this hasn’t been the best £6.75 that I have ever spent but it has taken me back to being a journalist. One thing though has really stood out and that is they seem to have a photographer at every single local high school prom. When did the high school prom become newsworthy? Can someone enlighten me?

Now I know some of you will be thinking, ‘but Neil you are just jealous because you didn’t go to any of your high school discos or proms or anything social’ but you’d be wrong – I went to one. Hah! Although it wasn’t a prom or anything it was a big leaving VI form party in the park – or more accurately Sandown or Shanklin Rugby Club. I can’t remember which. Anyway as per usual I digress. I’m not jealous of either going to proms or having the local rag deciding it was newsworthy. I just think it is preposterous to have the gall to pretend it is even remotely newsworthy.

No doubt the local paper will say that it fills up space and no doubt people buy it to see their photos and to see them all but isn’t that the type of thing that Facebook and other forms of social media was invented for?

Here are a couple of photos from the last two days but in the 15 days of buying the local rag I’d say a good eight of them have had double page spreads from a high school prom.

high school prom southend
High School Prom Photo 1…
southend high school prom
High School Prom Photo 2…

I just don’t get it. Maybe I am just a grumpy old man. I know that the local rag will have quite a few non-stories in it. It isn’t easy finding enough news to fill up a newspaper every single day but prom photos?

The whole high school prom thing is also a bug-bear of mine. It is the Americanisation of our young people. More and more pressure is put on young people to have a good time at these things and make an impression. I read a story in a national newspaper the other day that two girls had waited too long to hire a limo for their prom that they went out a hired a helicopter instead. The helicopter cost them £500 to hire between them. I don’t think I even had £500 pocket money throughout my teenage years yet alone to spend on a helicopter trip to arrive at a prom in style.

Proms are essentially for the popular kids and it deeply harms the less popular kids self-worth. If you aren’t popular or you can’t afford a new dress or to arrive in style then people look down on you. Having the local newspaper photographer there doesn’t exactly help this.

I could bang on about it for hours but I’ll be good and won’t. It just really pisses me off. Not just the whole newsworthy issue but the prom culture itself. I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the costs in fact quite the opposite – I’m pretty darn sure the costs outweigh the benefits.

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Lib Dem Baroness Ros Scott has caused me to blow a gasket

Oh Lib Dems what are you doing to me? I sit her in my toothpaste stained jogging bottoms and a t-shirt saying ‘Brain Loading…47% Please Wait’ and feeling good playing Bejeweled Blitz and then I see a tweet and my anger soars to record (well that’s a lie – nowhere near record levels but still I’m pretty pissed off) and why I hear you ask? Well because of this tweet from a Liberal Democrat Peer…

Baroness Ros Tweet
Lib Dems…the grown-up party – or so I thought…

It seems pretty innocuous but still, ‘We were told if we didn’t pay huge bonuses to bankers they would all go abroad. And the problem with that is? ‘ I think I need to respond for what the problem with that might be.

First of all the city is actually a vital part of our economy. As much as it is hard to say in this day and age when everyone wants to crush the bankers and the banks as I have blogged about on numerous occasions before, I think it is fair to say that the city helped us get into this mess but that without a strong city it is highly unlikely that we are going to get out of it. We can’t just kill the city because all that will do is stunt growth. It isn’t rocket science but it seems like it might be for some people.

The winner of the Best New Lib Dem Blog last year Richard Morris agrees with the Baroness:

Richard Morris Tweet
Richard agrees with the Baroness…

@neilmonnery @baronessros of course you are presuminging (sic) that A)they would go & b)we wouldn’t find anyone equally ‘talented’ to replace them

Well first of all I think the presumption that bankers might leave the UK if they get offered more money overseas is a fairly safe one to presume. I know – and I repeat – I know – that this is already happening. People that I know are losing staff members because their bonus cheque for the last financial year was shall we say lacking. These are people that actually make money for the banks – and in turn therefore make money fr the UK tax payer – but they are going because they can earn more money elsewhere.

I also think it is fair to say that this happens in all forms of life. People will move on if they get a better pay packet elsewhere. It is why I can never understand why football fans get so worked up when a player leaves for another club and a huge pay increase. People go where the money is and everyone has their families to worry about and such. Even if they don’t then why wouldn’t they take more money to do a similar job? You would as would I. If someone offered me a job to do the exact same as I was doing today for a lot more dosh then I’d be off like a shot. We all would.

So I think we can safely say that the very best will move on – and we know they are the very best because other banks will want to hire them. The people who are crap and make no money won’t be highly sought after. This is how it works. That is purely logical. If you are good at your job then you will have more doors open to you to move onwards and upwards. If you stink then you try to tread water and stay where you are.

As for presuming that it would be hard to find people equally talented enough to replace them, well this one is simple. If they wanted to work in the banking sector then they already would. Rightly or wrongly the banking sector is motivated by one thing – money. If you work in the city then it is highly you like money – and a lot of it. You may also like women and drugs but these aren’t as big of a prerequisite as liking money. No-one gets into the banking industry because they want to save the world. They get into it because they are clever enough to and want to live a good lifestyle.

People say that they want the bonus culture slashed because it is obscene that bankers get huge bonuses when they do a bad job but what about doing a good job? If regulations are put in place in the K (and for UK based firms operating overseas) that reduce the bonus culture then all it will succeed in doing is force the good workers who make money to leave. They won’t stay and enjoy seeing their salaries culled they will just move on.

Going back to the original tweet what is the problem with all the people who make money going overseas and stopping making money for UK firms who employ people in the UK and pay plenty of tax in the UK (both the company and the employees) well let me think…I think I may have showed exactly the problem in that previous sentence.

Look I know it’s cool to bash the bankers. It is cool to see them as a collective and they are all as bad as each other. Well one thing I have learned in life is not to tar everyone with the same brush. Not all redheads are fiery and gorgeous (although most are), not all fat people are jolly, not all Tories were born with a silver spoon, not all Labour voters think pie & mash is the best meal ever invented, not all my online dating experiences have been horrific (well this one is close) but yes you get what I mean.

Yes the bankers who were dishonest and screwed things up should face the consequences but should those who have done and continue to do a good job face the same sanctions? Morally of course they don’t. You have to be an idiot (or a member of #ukuncut) to believe such nonsense but putting aside the moral argument it doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint going forward either.

Like it or not many bankers are terrific at their job and earn their bonuses. If a department earns a company say £50million profit then what is wrong with a percentage of that money going to the people who helped earn the money? There are two things that motivate most people and money is the big one and the other is the promise of sex. They are the things that will motivate most people so if not money then do we propose lots of free sex on tap for good work? I’m not sure that will go down well in some departments so if it’s neither money or sex then what motivation do bankers have to work those extra hours and get business done? Not a great deal.

Some bankers are bad. Many more aren’t. Until we can get our stupid heads around this fact then bankers aren’t going to fare well. The sad fact that both the media and the government (both sides of the house) are willing to throw the banking industry under the bus because it fits in with what the electorate want to hear is depressing and when Lib Dem peers think that the bankers are one entity – and in so think they are all bad and wouldn’t be missed – then even the Lib Dems are starting to lose their sense of the real world.

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Why do people think bullying on the internet is ok?

The internet is largely anonymous. It is easy to make judgements on people we know and it is even easier to make snap judgements on people on the television. In this age where celebrity is a concept that has been diluted because of reality TV it has coincided with the explosion of social media.

Therefore people on the TV and in the papers are more regular than before. Newspapers will run stories and photos of reality TV stars causing people to have more vocal opinions on said people. A few months ago Jesy Nelson was getting bullied over her looks and today in The Sun Cher Lloyd is talking about internet bullying. It just makes me shake my head.

I was talking this morning to one of the girls on the ITV1 dating show Take Me Out and she was saying she hadn’t received anything too bad but other girls had received a lot of hate via social media. This hate isn’t just hate but it directed at them personally and that to me just seems bizarre. Did no-one teach the social media generation that internet bullying is still bullying? Saying personal and mean things to people for no apparent reason – certainly people who are strangers is just not right.

Cher Lloyd is quoted in the piece linked to above talking about Jesy Nelson, “I went to a party and noticed that Little Mix were there, but Jesy wasn’t.

“So I called her up and she said, ‘I just don’t feel good about myself’.

“And that’s down to cyber bullying.

“That made this girl not go out and see all the crazy stuff that she could be doing, because of comments. She missed a great night. She’s such a bubbly girl — the type of girl I wanted to be friends with at school.

“So it was so hurtful to see her so down when she had this massive opportunity just beginning to open up in front of her.

“After going through the highs of the audition process, she was brought down to the bottom again because of someone being nasty about her.

How can that be right? I know that David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd quit twitter a few months back because of a handful of muppets who kept sending him abuse and swearing at him and he decided that it just wasn’t worth it. He has since returned to twitter but still that is why he stopped for the best part of a year. Does being mean to people that you don’t know make these people feel big?

I remember when Cher Lloyd was on The X Factor the amount of abuse she got was something else. A lot of it not directed at her personally but some it is was. Commentating in your twitter timeline that in your opinion she doesn’t have a voice is probably fair cop but tweeting her and calling her a no talent whore is certainly not. Yet this is what she had to face.

Putting yourself out there in reality TV terms means that you are opening yourself up to abuse. Yes that is the way it is but it doesn’t make it right. When it comes to people that you don’t know then why be so personal? If you don’t have something nice to say about people you see on TV then why say anything at all to them?

The social media generation seem to be more open to bullying. It is something that is a real concern. It isn’t just with reality TV but school bullies can bully outside the school and at evenings and weekends. Bullying is a real problem for the future moving forward.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Just when did we hand over the keys to our moral compasses to the media?

In 2005 I left university with a degree in Journalism. So many people dream about being a journalist and breaking the big news, doing the background research, being the first with the news. It is a something that so many young people strive for. Journalism in one of the most over-subscribed courses at universities in this country but yet the reality is different and so many lose their way over time.

As anyone who has read anything from me in the past week with know the biggest issue in my life has been the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal with particular reference to how the media have treated Joe Paterno – an 84 year-old man not accused of either sexually abusing boys nor of trying to cover it up. Other people are accused of such crimes but Paterno is not. However the media fallout has left me ever-so deeply troubled.

There are so many fine writers and journalists over in the States but in the past week they have thrown out notion of being fair and reasoned and declared a witch hunt. They couldn’t see the big picture and had a target in mind – a target deep down many of them had been hoping would slip up so they could attack him. They had no idea how it would end but they were always going to be vultures when it did end.

Thankfully one respected journalist put his head above a parapet and wrote arguably the first fair and reasoned report of the whole situation. That man was Joe Posnanski. His piece The End of Joe Paterno sums up so many of my feelings towards the way the media have acted. I urge people to go and read it but should they chose not to then I shall highlight some of what I believe are the most pertinent pieces:

I have seen some things in the last few days that have felt rotten, utterly wrong — a piling on that goes even beyond excessive, a dancing on the grave that makes me ill. Joe Paterno has lived a whole life. He has improved the lives of countless people. I know — I’ve talked to hundreds of them. Almost every day I walk by the library that he and his wife, Sue, built. I walk by the religious center that tries to bring people together, and his name is on the list of major donors. I hear the stories, the countless stories, of the kindnesses that came naturally to him, of the way he stuck with people in their worst moments, of the belief he had that everybody could do a little bit better — as a football player, as a student, as a human being. I’m not going to tell you these stories now, because you can’t hear them. Nobody can hear them in the howling.

A recollection of all the good this man has done. The last line though sums everything up. No-one wants to hear the full story because what is at the forefront of people’s minds are the allegations made against a former coach of his.

We are in a top-you world where everyone is not only trying to report something faster but is also trying to report something ANGRIER. One guy wants Joe Paterno to resign, the next wants him to be fired, the next wants him to be fired this minute, the next wants him to be fired and arrested, the next wants him to be fired, arrested and jailed, on and on, until we’ve lost sight of who actually committed the crimes here.

This is without even a shadow of a doubt a very accurate point. Being balanced and fair is not the world we live in any more unfortunately. We live in a world where we want instant justice and instant answers and make instant judgements. We don’t want to wait for evidence we just want to pile on and if you don’t pile on enough then the feeling is that you are defending a man who is indefensible. The men accused of these crimes are not mentioned and will get their day in court to defend themselves but because the media can’t hound them then they need a scapegoat. Any major story needs a scapegoat and in this instance it was the man dubbed ‘Saint Joe’ and when the mighty fall then everyone rejoices.

I think the University could not possibly have handled this worse. It was disgusting and disgraceful, the method in which they fired Joe Paterno after 60 years of service, and yes, I do think Paterno was a scapegoat. Of course he was. I’ve already said that he had to be let go. But to let him dangle out there, take up all the headlines, face the bulk of the media pressure, absolutely, that’s the very definition of scapegoat. Three people were indicted and arrested. A fourth, I hear, will be indicted soon. Joe Paterno is not one of the four.

The university have handled this situation worse than any organisation has ever handled a scandal in my lifetime. We don’t know exactly who knew what and when but we do know what has happened since the indictments were handed down by the Grand Jury on Saturday. Instead of calling an emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees and trying to get answers the Board of Trustees didn’t meet until Wednesday. The university President said that the two men still on staff who were indicted had his ‘unconditional support’ until two days later they were both placed on administrative leave.

On Tuesday when Joe Paterno was due to meet with the media this Press Conference was cancelled minutes before by the President of the university. Joe Paterno was happy to talk about the case but the President fearing Joe may say something that made the university liable to civil claims pulled the plug. Instead of dealing with the situation they left the situation to bulge and the more silence there was the more media airtime got devoted to the story.

Then on Wednesday they forged the President to resign and fired Joe Paterno. When asked why they fired him the Board of Trustees spokesman said ‘we don’t have any of the facts yet’ but yet they fired him anyway. Joe Paterno as I understand it has tenure at Penn State and can only be fired for gross misconduct. What he has or hasn’t done it certainly would not constitute gross misconduct therefore if Paterno really wanted to he could sue the university for unfair dismissal. He won’t but he could. This is the reason Mike McQueary is still on the staff – they can’t fire him for anything he’s done wrong – so firing him would be unlawful.

Posnanski refers to a possible fourth indictment coming and that it will not be against Paterno. I doubt very much it is McQueary so logically it will be the now former President of the university Graham Spanier. If that indictment does come down then it is likely the Grand Jury has evidence that Tim Curley and Graham Schultz went to the President with news of the 2002 allegation but Spanier helped cover it up. That would be my guess anyway.

It is still unclear what Paterno did in this case. It will remain unclear for a while. You might be one of the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve heard from who know EXACTLY what Paterno did. He HAD to know this. He DEFINITELY knew that. He COULD have done something. I respect that. Joe Paterno’s a public figure. You have every right to believe what you want to believe and be absolutely certain about it. But since we have not heard from Joe, not heard from former athletic director Tim Curley, not heard from GA/assistant coach Mike McQueary, not heard from anyone who was in the room, I’ll repeat: It’s unclear. A determined grand jury did not charge Joe Paterno with any crime. A motivated reporting barrage, so far, anyway, has not uncovered a single thing that can tell us definitively what Joe Paterno knew.

This is the final piece of the story I shall quote. We do not know what Joe Paterno knew or didn’t know. We don’t know. However listening to the talking heads and reading the scribes from all over the country (and in pieces here in the UK) I have come to the understanding that in fact all these journalists have been privately briefed about everything and they know the full story. It would be nice if they could let us schmoes into the club to find out the truth. Printing the truth based on one half of the story is a very dangerous thing indeed.

Still nearly 1,500 words into this blog those that are still reading might be thinking ‘but what has this got to do with either a) the media or b) the media in the UK?’ well don’t fret that is coming up next.

When a bandwagon or witch hunt gets rolling it is extremely difficult to stop. The media in this case I have referred to have barrel rolled into the story and have had targets all along. Now Paterno is out that has shifted on to Mike McQueary. It is just the way the media want. They want to conduct a court of public opinion where they are judge and jury but the problem is the judge and jury aren’t looking at what is right or wrong instead they are looking at what shifts most newspapers, what makes more listeners tune in, what makes more viewers watch and in a selfish sense what makes them look best. A journalist coming out and saying ‘let’s wait for all the facts’ will not be looked upon favourably because that isn’t what makes money. Being reactionary and sensationalist makes the money.

In the UK we saw the case of Christopher Jefferies who was wrongfully arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jo Yeates. The case encapsulated the media because of the circumstances, pretty blonde girl, found dead on Christmas morning in the snow, boyfriend already had an alibi, it was the perfect storm for the media. There is usually very little news around Christmas so the story and the case took on a life of it’s own. When Jefferies was arrested the court of public opinion driven by the media had proclaimed him guilty and that was that.

A funny thing happened on the way to the police proving his guilt though – they proved his innocence and in fact had already identified another suspect – one who you know – actually did the crime. That was a few weeks later though and the media were rabid in their lust for swift justice whether it was right or wrong. They wanted (nee: needed) a guilty party and when the police decided to arrest Jefferies on a tip-off that was it. He was guilty for all to see.

He has slowly got his life back together but how do you piece together your life against everyone has been told what an awful human being you are by the media? It can’t be easy. Earlier this month he spoke on BBC Radio 4, “It has taken up a whole year virtually of my life, that period of time has meant that everything else that I would normally be doing has been in abeyance.

“But, fortunately, I think I’m approaching the point at which I can start to take up the reins from the end of last year.”

Mr Jefferies accepted an apology and “substantial” libel damages from the Sun, Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Record, Daily Express, Daily Star and the Scotsman for their coverage after his arrest. So that was what eight national newspapers who essentially printed lies about him. Did these newspapers print these lies because they secretly hated him? No they didn’t. They printed these lies because they knew it would sell newspapers. That is all anyone cares about in this industry – making money. If the truth doesn’t sell then the truth can be buried.

Look at John Charles De Menezes. When that tragic event first happened the newspapers were all saying he was a terrorist who was involved in a long chase with police nd then jumped over some tube barriers in attempt to try and get away from them and cause terror to the people of London. However again this wasn’t the truth. This was the truth using just one half of the story – the police’s at the time – and that was enough. It was only when it came out that the police were making the whole thing up did the newspapers investigate and report it properly because the truth with both sides of the story sold even more newspapers.

Having dipped my toe into Journalism I can say with no qualms that I prefer to sit on the outside where I am free to both think and to write how I please. I have always looked at every story with scepticism unless both sides of the story are out in the open. Almost everybody has a bias on almost every single issue no matter how large or small. It is just human nature. So when only one side of the story is out then that bias will be inflated even more.

I urge people to always try their best to look at everything reported at the media with a backwards step approach to try and see the real story. It is how I work and it enables me to go against the seemingly unstoppable runaway freight train that is the media when they get on their high horse. Not everything we hear in the media is true nor is it even accurate. A lot of it is but the bottom line for the print media will always be the profit margins. How many newspapers would swear allegiance to the the BNP if this country became a racist stronghold and the profits were to be made from being a BNP backer? More than you think is my fair guess.

Make up your own minds people. Don’t let the media ever tell you what to think or how to act. We all have it inside of us to have our own moral compass and to act and behave like we believe is right. If a newspaper tells you that your neighbour fiddles kids and they are wrong but you’ve gone and bludgeoned them to death for being evil then the newspapers won’t be prosecuted for murder – you will be.

The media have become too big and too unregulated. I love a free press and it is one of the greatest things about the western world but the freedom of the press also allows the press to dictate the feeling and the mood of the people. It also allows them to spread lies and untruths should they so desire and many do in the hope that it will make them more money. Stopping them will not be easy but it is something that needs to be done or else more innocent lives will be harmed by the media and yet again the media themselves won’t suffer any consequences except for money – and often the money they pay out in damages is more than covered by the extra profits they make by printing scurrilous stories.

It is a sad day when you can’t trust the media to reflect the mood of the people but that is the age we live in. The media drive the story and they’ll drive it to whichever stop they deem fit and they do it time and time and time again and that my friends just isn’t right.

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Charlotte Berry aka @talktoteens and the case of the pathetic loser of a journalist

Many of you will have read the story of the 42 year-old teacher Charlotte Berry who used twitter. On twitter she would have conversations with people. Y’know like many of us do. In these conversations she was known to (om my god) use swear words and talk about being a slut and blow jobs. Why will somebody not think of the children?

Well somebody did. No wait. Somebody saw a story that would make headlines and give himself a boner. That man was journalist Sam Smith of the local rag. He describes himself as a journalist who has worked in different guises since leaving university three years ago, ‘I am currently employed on the Brentwood Gazette – an award winning weekly publication in Essex – and have previously worked at BBC Sussex and Surrey and have had stints at The Sunday Times and Guardian.’ He is billy big balls but yet none of those top publications or broadcast outlets were actually keen on hiring him. Sop what in effect he’s done is had work experience at these places. Ahh. That’s nice for him.

Anyway I digress. It was this man who spied the story and knew it was a ticket to fame and fortune. Well a ticket to having the story picked up in the nationals anyway and sure enough bang the story was all over the place including the Daily Mail which gave it the well rounded, well thought out, reasonable approach. Oh wait. No it didn’t. It basically made out the teacher to be a monster who doesn’t deserve to be within 100 miles of any children.

Look I have no idea whether Miss (or Mrs) Berry is a good teacher or not. However talking to people on twitter and using foul language is not going to sway my mind on the matter. All posting with foul language or talking about sex were messages sent to others so wouldn’t show up in her public timeline unless you were following both people and/or looked on her actual twitter site and not her twitter feed. At worse it was naive of the teacher but the hounds are out.

I read a fantastic piece by ‘scruffymatt’ entitled How To Ruin Someone’s Life For No Good Reason and it really is a great read. I implore you all to have a read of it. It shows actually that the local rag had been running stories about her for a while – but all positive – about how great a teacher she was and all the things she did outside of the classroom for her students. Sounds like the type of teacher I’d want my (hypothetical) kids to have. Someone who cared.

I couldn’t give two hoots about what a teacher says on twitter or Facebook but sadly there are many who do. They think a teacher should not have sex and think about the kids all day long, every day and are not allowed a normal life.

Having lived with teachers in the past I know how much they worry about these types of things. I recall once going to the supermarket with two of my house mates (one of whom was a teacher) and a group of her kids saw her on the way back and it turned into quite a big deal. These kids asked about who I was (and the other house mate) to her the next time they saw her in school. Teachers actually have a very difficult time separating their work life and their private lives.

However above all what I truly hated about this story was the following screenshot of the author tweeting the teacher asking her if she’d read the story. It is like saying ‘Hey I fucked you up big time and possibly ruined your career on a whim that I had. Aren’t I big and powerful and aren’t you small and insignificant?’

@{samsmith68 on twitter
@{samsmith68 on twitter

No Mr Journalist. It just makes you out to be a (the bad word – the four letter one). Nice way to make a mountain out of a molehill and pillory a teacher for y’know – having a life outside of work. You could make it big in the world of the low-brow press with that attitude. When an editor yells ‘Who can make a story out of nothing?’ the newsroom with all look at you – Sam Smith – for guidance about how you can be the man who’ll write crap as long as it makes good copy and whips up a storm.

I still can’t get over that tweet taunting the teacher. What a c word.

Lastly he’s a Saints fan as well. I suppose it all adds up now.

Note: It has been pointed out to me by a proper journalist and not a layabout bum of a hack like me that the tweet to which saw my rage and oitching keyboard bashing finger was dated 12th October and was in fact in relation to another news story written by the said newspaper to which they were praising Miss Berry (or is it Mrs? – I’m so lazy I haven’t checked). So on this part of the blog post my apologies. I still think the piece was garbage but the gloating allegation fails the Factcheck when people actually look into it and don’t fly off the handle.

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The Police, The Media and The Public. All desperate to convict without due process.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Chris Jefferies, Rebecca Leighton are all just names but also people whose livelyhood’s have been tarnished, tried in the court of the media and public opinion and had their freedom taken away from them for some time. All of these people will never face trial and a jury because there was never enough evidence against them to warrant such a thing.

People in this country (and others but I can speak primarily for this country) want justice for those crossed but half the time they don’t give two hoots how justice is gained and if it means that innocent people lose their freedom then who gives a damn. There is a form of blood-lust and pack mentality that is growing by the year. Maybe I just feel it more as I grow older but the people of this country seem prepared to believe what they are told more often than they used to and are not willing to challenge what the powers that be are saying.

The powers that be are of course the media. The media told us Chris Jefferies was a weirdo who did the crime and killed Joanna Yates. It was all sorted by the media. No need for the police to come in with their so called evidence. He was arrested and some of his ex-pupils called him a weirdo and jobs a good ‘un but wait a minute. Hold your horses. When the police delved further into the crime it turns out that he wasn’t the killer. The media were wrong and they couldn’t give a rats arse. They wanted justice because the public wanted the killer to face court. The fact that the media’s first hunch was wrong is neither here nor there.

Next we get to the nurse who has spent 42 days in jail on remand for the murders of patients at a hospital where she worked. Rebecca Leighton was arrested solely on the strength that her fingerprints were on a saline drip. Only problem being that the saline drip her fingerprints were on wasn’t tempered with. Bit of a cock-up eh police? However we all knew she was guilty when she was arrested because the media splashed pictures of her at a club and drinking alcohol. We all know that every nurse in the country who truly cares about patients go straight home after their shift to read more nursing books and to pray. This evil woman went out and had a good time in her spare time so she was without a doubt a cold-blooded evil killer.

What horse expletive.

DSK may or may not have been guilty but if you speak to 90% of women they will tell you he was in fact guilty and they don’t need any evidence to back it up. The media were a tad more ginger with that story because it wasn’t a UK based one so it wasn’t pushing the buttons of your average British newspaper reader and buyer but when it comes to a story us Brits care about them boom. Had anyone ever been arrested for the Madeline McCann kidnapping a few years ago then I am betting within a day we’d know every single thing about this person and the media would paint this person as guilty even before the police had questioned him.

The print media frenzy over reporting criminal cases that haven’t even reached trial yet is for one one of the most disgusting things about this country and it is getting worse I am sure of it. If I was arrested for any serious crime that had got the country talking then I’m sure every photo of me that had ever been taken would be in a media newsroom and every person I have ever been in contact with will have been contacted by the print media and anyone that said anything bad of me would be quoted at length.

I hate our rush to judge culture. Let the criminal system play out and then report the situation. Yes court proceedings are open and you can report on them but speculating about a person when they haven’t even been charged is just plain old character assassination. I hope the young nurse sues all the media and takes them to the cleaners. One day they’ll stop rushing to judge but sadly that day will only come when the people of the UK do the same and I’m not sure that day is going to come any time soon.

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This ‘Keep F1 on the BBC’ e-petition rubbish…

I saw yesterday that there was an e-petition to keep F1 free to air in this country and lots of F1 fans are getting rather excited by this. However when you take a step back and think about this clearly and rationally you see that it is complete and utter codswallop (seriously love that word) and people should think about what the government would really do.

If the e-petition gets the 100,000 signatures it needs to get debated in parliament are MPs really going to put the F1 calendar on the protected events list? Is the F1 season of national importance that brings the country together? Does it have the history of the Grand National? Does the sport pack out pubs like the World Cup or European Championships? Does an F1 race transfix a nation for a fortnight like Wimbledon does?

No it doesn’t – and I’m saying this as a huge F1 nut. I’d love the sport to stat right where it is for all the races. I think the BBC’s coverage has been second to none and it enables people who don’t have Sky to watch it. Now I do have Sky so I won’t be effected really but my sister and husband do not and they will not pay for Sky so they’ll lose several races live from next year and that is not right. However is this something that the government should be taking seriously at the moment?

Er…let me think about that…no.

The Eurozone is in such a fragile state that the economy could go down the tubes and we might get caught up in it despite being outside that bubble. The United States of America’s economy is nearly as bad and we have people thinking that parliament need to talk about what channel Formula 1 is on. Sometimes I just don’t know what planet some people live on and where their priorities lie.

I would love F1 to stay on the Beeb. That would be the ideal solution to this but does F1 have more national significance than say The Ashes? It really doesn’t. There is no way that any bill would pass the House of Commons to put the whole F1 calendar on the protected events list. There is more chance of me marrying Sophie Ellis-Bextor (yes the same metaphor again but hey it’s Sophie Ellis-Bextor) than there is of that e-petition ever being debated and resulting in a bill that ensures the whole season of F1 will be available to anyone who has a television and an aerial.

The world is looking at ruin and some people think time needs to be found for F1.

Give me bleedin’ strength.

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Why @guidofawkes is so out of line over his e-petition to restore the Death Penalty in the UK

My blood has boiled and cooled and boiled and cooled on this topic several times over the past few days. First of all when it got the attention it first did I was not amused as the death penalty is barbaric and is essentially state sanctioned murder and that is never a good thing. However I cooled down a bit.

Then I saw a few Lib Dems saying that they agreed with the death penalty on the latest House of Twits Vote looking at the numbers as it currently stands 27 people (and two Lib Dems) support the death penalty whereas 344 are against it. Well done twitter for being sane and as for the two Lib Dems who voted for the death penalty I wonder whether they understand what true liberalism is.

To be a liberal you believe in equality and equal and human rights. Not being controversial here but I’m relatively sure that human rights and state sanctioned murder don’t exactly fit ideologically with one another. Liberals and Liberal Democrats can have a wide range of ideas and thoughts but to not be a basic liberal and not have core liberal values and yet proport to be a Lib Dem is to me whack. Anyway that pissed me off but I cooled down a bit.

Then came the report in The Sun telling us that three MPs are backing this cause. You can read the story here but all three are Tory MPs from Philip Davies to Priti Patel to Andrew Turner.

Now I’ve had no direct conversation with any of these three although Andrew Turner was my MP for a couple of years before I left the Isle of Wight for good in 2004. I used to live less than two minutes from his constituency office and I know he’s a bit nuts and stuck in the past but heck so is most of the Isle of Wight. I still think it’s pretty impressive the Lib Dems took the Isle of Wight in 1997 but after a pretty poor term in office for Dr. Peter Brand he lost in 2001 and the Isle of Wight is sunk for the party for the foreseeable future. It is now a Tory stronghold until something dramatic happens. Anyway three MPs backing this crazy cause pissed me right off but I was able to cool down a bit.

I was cooling down until I read that Guido on twitter said that murder in this country had gone up since the death penalty was abolished. True enough but he was hinting there was a correlation in the two. He failed to observe that the murder rate had gone up in the rest of the world too and in the states in the United States of America that had reintroduced the death sentence then their rate of murder growth was similar to that of other states that did not have the death penalty. So there is seemingly no correlation between the two and having the death penalty does not make someone think twice about killing someone. So it was a great use of a piece of data without it actually meaning jack shit. That pissed me off but the F1 was and it was raining so I cooled down a bit.
I was cool about this thinking that this wouldn’t get through but then my blood raised a bit when I read yesterday that the death penalty is something that we cannot insert into British Law unless we recede from the European Human Rights Act. The UK along with most member states of the EU signed up to Protocol 13 of the European Human Rights Act and article one of protocol 13 stats the following clear as day:

The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.

So it seems that if we were to reintroduce the death penalty we would have to either pull out of the ECHR or would have to wriggle our way out of Protocol 13 and Protocol 6 which was is the same as Protocol 13 but does include wriggle room for the death penalty in times of war. Protocol 13 closed this loophole.

So pulling out of the ECHR is not something I’m terribly keen on. Nor is it something the public themselves should be terribly keen on. I know many people think that prisoners have it lightly (and I do to some extent as well) but they deserve basic Human Rights. Remember that many people convicted in this country are actually innocent of their crimes so taking away the rights of innocent people isn’t something we should ever aspire to.

So yeah that pissed me off and I cooled down a bit as my attention was taken away by Gordon Ramsay and a new series of Hell’s Kitchen USA but then whilst reading Guido’s original e-petition again my blood went and I felt compelled to write a lengthy blog post and rant about the shit that he is shovelling. I did have to calm down a bit first so I tidied up my apartment as someone is coming to syay on Thursday and the spare time is basically my junk room – anyway that’s by the by and no-one cares about that.

Guido’s e-petition says the following:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Can anyone see what would make my blood boil so much in that e-petition?

I’ll make it clearer:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Yes. Guido and all the signatures that he is amassing for this e-petition are basically saying that murder isn’t just murder and that some people’s lives are worth more than others. That to me is one of the most abhorrent things that I have ever read. I don’t give a stuff about people’s political persuasions but I do think that most of us unless we are evil, racist, sexist, moronic believe in the basic principle that all human life is equal. To say that is isn’t to me makes you out to be not only a sick person but also one that believes in inequality. The world isn’t perfect but if we put to the people of this country that policemen are more valuable and important to society than teachers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, SEO consultants then we are portraying a myth that we are all born equal.

Also by backing this e-petition then you are saying quite firmly that ‘murder is not just murder’ and there are murders of varying degrees. Now two and a half months ago Ken Clarke got into all sorts of hot water over saying that ‘rape is not just rape’ and saying there were varying degrees of crime that all fall under the rape shield. There was uproar not only on twitter but also in the newspapers and in the pubs. To say that there are varying degrees of crime was heresy but when it comes to murder – which in all honesty is just as bad of a crime at least – then people are fine with saying the murder of policeman and children is worse than killing any other human being.

C’mon folks that is horse expletive of the highest order. Now if you want to have a debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty then that is fine and due process should take place. I have no problems with that although I would be about as against it ever becoming law as I could be but the debate is fair and legitimate. However if you want to say that some people are more important and more valuable and worthwhile as human beings – which is what you are doing if you say the murder of children and police officers killed in the line of duty should be rated as a worse crime than any other murder then I think you have some serious issues and should look at yourself long and hard in the mirror.

We all came into this world kicking and screaming our little heads off and there is no reason whatsoever to ever believe that one human is more important than the next. Every single one of us has a mother and a father and to say to a mother and father that their son or daughter is worth less than the son or daughter of another couple is the biggest type of wrong imaginable.

So I urge you all not to sign the petition that Guido Fawkes has put forward as written. If you do then you are saying loud and proud that not all human beings are the same and do you really want to say that? Do you really think that some people are worth more than others?

I’m pretty positive that you don’t.

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How hard is it to buy a 6.5″ Grumpy Care Bear?

The short answer is very hard.

I have won this listing on eBay for a Grumpy Care Bear three times. Three times. Well when I say won what I mean is I had the highest bid going into the final minute when the seller took it off the auction and re-listed it minutes later yet again at a low starting price of 99p.

This morning I had the leading bid of 99p before it got yanked but in my history I can see it once went for £41.05 before being pulled a re-listed minutes later. Now I know it is a pretty rare Care Bear of that ilk and I know on the internet you would be looking at the best part of £50 for this item but if you are going to put it up for auction at a low starting and reverse price then you have to deal with it if it doesn’t go that high surely?

Maybe I just don’t understand eBay but this type of behaviour pisses me off royally. Ok pull it if it doesn’t meet your expectations once but to have been doing it constantly for over a month now is pathetic. When it was first up there it was getting £30-40 most times but now people who are looking for said item know that the seller is a con artist who won’t sell and therefore do not bother bidding any more.

All I wanted was a 6.5″ Grumpy Care Bear (and at 99p + £2.40 p&p it would have been one hell of a bargain) but apparently some people just do not want to play fair when it comes to eBay auctioneering. I better win Good Luck Bear later on tonight or they’ll be a storm in down town Thorpe Bay…

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