These are media organisations that contributed to the accusations against the Labour Party, and its leader – of racism as part of an unrelenting four-year campaign of propaganda that bore little resemblance to the facts.
So why are we surprised?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Today the BBC, The Independent, the Evening Standard, iNews, and no doubt others all got on the Guido Fawkes fake news bandwagon to pillory a totally innocent Labour MP on a trumped-up charge of racism.
What’s strangest about this case is the fact that they would know better, if they had bothered to read the article used by the Guido Fawkes “reporter” as a source.
An unnamed BBC reporter writes: “In the piece Ms Dent Coad claimed Mr [Shaun] Bailey, who was a parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, had “stigmatised” the area he was born in by referring to it as a “ghetto”.
“”Who can say where this man will ever fit in, however hard he tries? One day he is the ‘token ghetto boy’ standing behind D Cameron, the next ‘looking interested’ beside G Osborne. Ever felt used?”, she wrote.
“After the blog post was highlighted, Mr Bailey said he had never been “labelled a ‘token ghetto boy'” before and was “shocked and saddened” by the article.
“He said Ms Dent Coad’s “use of language should not be acceptable for an elected politician… and she should be ashamed”.”
… Except of course it wasn’t Ms Dent Coad’s use of language that was under scrutiny – ever example they mentioned is of her quoting somebody else.
In her article, to which the BBC piece seems to link, but actually links back to itself – curious, that, she quotes Mr Bailey himself as saying he was “spoilt rotten” and “gobby and dangerous” during a radio interview.
He is the one who describes himself as living in a “ghetto”. Is he going to apologise for any offence caused to residents?
Mr Bailey’s claim that he had never been labelled a “token ghetto boy” is odd, as the article is seven years old – and Ms Dent Coad was quoting people she described as “his former neighbours” – they weren’t her words.
It is therefore a sign of huge magnanimity that she has offered an apology “If [Mr Bailey] is offended – especially considering that this man has jumped onto the “racism” bandwagon that Guido Fawkes launched.
According to the Independent, Mr Bailey said he was “shocked and saddened by the hate-filled, racist article” and called on Ms Dent Coad to apologise for her comments to the wider black community. Why should she? None of her comments were racist – in fact, she was calling out Mr Bailey for his cynical manipulation of racial stereotypes to serve a political purpose. In doing so, she did not actually stoop to racism herself. Read her article and see.
The Evening Standard wrongly stated: “Emma Dent Coad labelled Shaun Bailey a “token ghetto boy” in the 2010 blog post which was highlighted yesterday by political website Guido Fawkes.” Obviously she did not – she was quoting his neighbours. Perhaps the Stannit would like to track down the person responsible for this seven-year-old comment and extract an apology from them? No? Is that because the person she was quoting is “Afro-Caribbean” and that would ruin the narrative?
You had to go to iNews for that particular snippet of information, making it a more balanced read than the others, at least. But that’s not saying much.
According to Zelo Street blogger Tim Fenton, the Guido article was written by someone called Alex Wickham, who – it seems – has a track record of dishonesty. If he was working for a reputable news organisation, it is an offence for which he should be drummed out.
And what is the real reason behind this attack on an upstanding member of the Kensington and Chelsea community, whose constituents should be proud to have her representing them?
Could it be that she has launched a report on the appalling inequalities in the London borough?
On her Twitter feed, she wrote: “The inside story of the most unequal borough in Britain: overcrowding, malnutrition and 20-year life expectancy gaps. Today I launched crucial report on housing and inequality in Kensington & Chelsea after Grenfell.”
You can read the report here. This Writer urges you to take the time to do so.
It might clarify why the BBC, the Standard, the Independent and even iNews have all tried to dirty the name of a fine member of Parliament.
Vox Political needs your help! If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers) you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
Tax avoidance row: Ed Miliband (left) and Lord Fink.
Anybody watching the news last night could have been forgiven for thinking the political headline was that Lord Fink had threatened to sue Ed Miliband for calling him a tax avoider, rather than that David Cameron had avoided answering any questions on the more serious connection between tax avoidance and donations to the Conservative Party.
As this blog reported yesterday, Mr Miliband said to Cameron (during Prime Minister’s Questions): “Let us take Stanley Fink, who gave £3 million to the Conservative party. The Prime Minister actually appointed him as treasurer of the party and gave him a peerage for good measure. Will he now explain what steps he is going to take about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink?”
Cameron didn’t answer but Lord Fink threatened to sue the Labour leader, challenging him to repeat the tax avoidance claim outside the House of Commons in a place where he couldn’t claim Parliamentary privilege of exemption from such legal action.
This was a very silly move as we all know tax avoidance isn’t actually illegal. As a former Conservative Party treasurer, Fink should know this.
Presumably somebody turned up to give him some proper advice overnight, as he has now changed his tune, admitting he took “vanilla” tax avoidance measures.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, he tried to justify it by saying: “The expression tax avoidance is so wide that everyone does tax avoidance at some level.”
Is that right? Isn’t there a difference, though, between the cash-in-hand activities of the man on the street and the kind of bank-aided deception described in the HSBC scandal?
What’s the morality of tax avoidance that provides somebody with the spare cash to make a massive donation to a political party and receive a job and a peerage in return?
According to The Guardian, Fink said he “used the opportunity … to set up some simple family trusts” while on a four-year posting to Switzerland. He transferred some shares to his children and his wife.
“Really what I was trying to do was, not like a living will, but to allocate a very small shareholding to each of my children so they could pay deposits on houses in London one day after we returned. There was nothing complex and they weren’t aggressive tax planning.
“I chose the mildest end of the spectrum that I was advised on,” he said. “What I did … was at the vanilla, bland, end of the spectrum.
“My family and I paid tax on all the dividends, both in Switzerland and the UK. They were done because my children were under 18 and I wanted them to have something to help them make their way in the wider world.”
Lord Fink is a multi-millionaire. It is unlikely that his children will ever be short of a few bob.
Meanwhile, one is left to wonder how many ordinary working people Fink believes get this kind of tax advice from their own bankers.
Barnes, who was London’s Deputy Mayor from 2008-12, follows MPs Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell into the Purple Wilderness, in a move that seems timed to further disrupt the Conservative Party Conference.
Like the others, Barnes seems a perfect fit for UKIP as he says he agrees with its policies on the EU, immigration and the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In other words he wants to keep Johnny Foreigner out. Oh, and he doesn’t like HS2 either.
Speaking as a gay man, Mr Barnes tried to dismiss claims that UKIP is homophobic. In a weak defence of the party, one of whose members tried to blame the severe flooding and storms at the start of this year on the legalisation of gay marriage, he said: “I don’t think they become homophobic the moment they join UKIP.”
He also told the Standard that the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems did not “speak the language of normal people”.
After four year’s as Number Two to Boris Johnson, how would he know?
Lest we forget: We know that, on average, 73 people died every week between January and November 2011 – after undergoing the DWP work capability assessment administered by Atos. Who knows how many are dying now?
Interestingly, the DWP story differs from that published by the BBC, even though the corporation must have used a version of the press release provided to it in advance.
In the BBC story, released on Saturday, “More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews” – but the DWP press notice, released today, claims “More than a million others withdrew their claims before reaching a face-to-face assessment”.
In addition, the DWP release features a long section on its Disability Confident roadshow, and there is another statistic which claims that the proportion of disabled people in work has reached 45 per cent.
Disability Confident, designed “to encourage more employers to hire disabled people”, “to showcase the talents of disabled people and highlight their tremendous value to the British economy” is, on the face of it, a good idea.
But I wonder if it isn’t a smokescreen to hide how the DWP is pushing thousands of disabled people into saying they are self-employed and taking tax credits rather than ESA, in order to fudge the figures and make it seem as though good work is being done.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive…
Of course, the best source of ESA-related statistics is on the iLegal site where the figures behind the press release have been picked apart by an expert who doesn’t have a vested interest in saving ministerial face.
They show that an average of 83 per cent of the 1,078,200 Incapacity claimants who were assessed qualified for ESA between October 2012 and May last year, while 88 per cent of the 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying.
While the DWP and the BBC have claimed 1.8 million people have magically disappeared from the Incapacity/ESA claimant count, the DWP’s own figures confirm that overall numbers have reduced by only 156,630 since May 2010.
The iLegal article makes it clear that “the claimant count is far from a static number; each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits”. But it seems clear that the BBC/DWP figure is a conflated total, simply adding up all new claims – rather than claimants – from 2008 onwards.
This is exactly why UK Statistics Authority chief Andrew Dilnot chastised the government after the Conservative Party released an almost-identical press release last year, using then-current (but still inaccurate) figures and not mentioning Disability Confident.
Let’s go back to the number of people found ‘fit for work’ after assessment. Has everybody forgotten the hammering that the government took during a debate on Atos’ handling of the Work Capability Assessment, exactly a year and a week ago today? If you have, don’t worry – you can read all about it here.
The debate demonstrated time after time that the work capability assessment, as devised by the DWP’s Conservative ministerial team and run by its employees at Atos, was not fit for purpose; that the overwhelming majority of those who had been found ‘fit for work’ were nothing of the sort; and that “this is a government that is perfectly happy with a system that is throwing thousands of sick and disabled people to the wolves”.
The government refused to listen. Then-Employment minister Mark Hoban (standing in, conspicuously, for Esther McVey, who was minister for the disabled at the time) said the independent reviews conducted by Professor Malcolm Harrington had identified areas of improvement and appropriate steps were being taken.
This claim was false. Out of 25 recommendations made by Professor Harrington in his year one review alone, almost two thirds were not fully and successfully implemented.
The government also claimed, repeatedly, that Prof Harrington had supported the migration of Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA. When fellow blogger Sue Marsh contacted him for confirmation, he responded: “I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast. I then said that i would review progress of that during my reviews. The decision was political. I could not influence it. IS THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR?”
I’d say so – to everybody but the Coalition government.
A good reporter at the BBC would have had all this information to hand. They would have known that the work capability assessment was extremely controversial and had been shown, many times, to be unfit for purpose. They would have known that the government had been slapped down by the UK Statistics Authority after releasing an almost-identical press release last year. They absolutely should have known that other reporters in the same organisation had revealed that the DWP had been pushing disabled people into claiming they were self-employed in an effort to cook the books.
With all that information to hand, it begs the question: Why did they then go ahead with the propagandised misrepresentation of the facts that appeared on the BBC News website on Saturday?
What do you do with a policy that has caused misery for thousands, has harmed the job market, removed jobseekers from work experience that would have led to a decent job and forced them to stack supermarket shelves instead, and actually had a judicial review held against it?
If you’re Chris Grayling, you roll it out in 16 London boroughs – all notable for being sites of the summer riots in 2011.
According to the Evening Standard, Mr Grayling plans to force young unemployed Londoners aged 18-24 to work in charities or care homes for 30 hours a week, while spending another 10 hours a week searching for a proper job, for a 13-week period. The policy will be applied to everybody who has spent less than six months in employment since leaving education; if they don’t agree to it, they’ll lose their £56-per-week Jobseekers’ Allowance.
He denied it was “slave labour” – the common nickname for the Work Placement scheme – instead claiming it would help young Londoners improve their career prospects.
I wonder what it will do for the prospects of people living in care homes who’ll have these inexperienced youngsters put in charge of them. It’ll probably make Winterbourne View care home look civilised – and through no fault of the youngsters being forced to do the work.
Mr Grayling also said it was reasonable for youngsters to be asked to give something to the community before the community gives anything back.
This might be a valid argument, but let’s ask one vital question: Who really gains from these work placement schemes?
The youngsters don’t – all they get is £56 per week and the loss of time that could be spent in voluntary work that will lead to a proper job.
The economy won’t – the jobs these young people will be doing should have proper wages, contracts and conditions of employment attached. This would pump money into the national economy and might actually help get Britain working properly again, but instead we’re seeing a silly publicity stunt from the government.
And the taxpayer won’t benefit either – because the government is using our tax money to fund the scheme. We’re paying for these youngsters to work for organisations that should be offering proper employment to people instead. And if you think all we’re paying is £56 per week, per jobseeker, think again!
If this system is anything like Welfare to Work (and I think it is), then each jobseeker will be sent to a placement by a provider – a private company employed by the government to shoehorn them into a placement. These are the people who will benefit from this scheme. It’s another backhander for Grayling’s fat-cat business buddies.
According to a commenter on my Facebook page (the ‘like’ button is at the top left of this page) “The WTW provider gets a £600 attachment fee. They also get paid fees for “providing support” i.e. bulllying her into doing what THEY want. Later they get an “outcome fee” for making her stay in the minimum wage job of their choice. If she finds something with no help from them, they still pocket the dosh. If she finds training other than their useless ‘courses’ she gets rewarded with a sanction (benefits withheld indefinitely) to ensure compliance.”
Is the reasoning behind this starting to make sense now?
The comment continues: “The job centre sent me to work (unpaid, natch) as a learning support asst with pre-ESOL classes. Six months later the college offered to fund my teacher training. Jobcentre promptly ordered me onto Work Programme. I now belong to Maximus [this will be the WTW provider] for two years. They told me to dump teaching plans and do contract cleaning. I dumped Maximus instead. Now I’ve been sanctioned. The Prime Minister goes on about literacy (which I also intend to teach) but is willing to keep throwing money into the WP to use the unemployed as a commodity. Maximus get to keep the attachment fee, by the way.
“The reason given [for the sanction] was ‘you had opportunities’ meaning the useless, unaccredited courses at À4E. I found a part-time job to help while training and the college want to pay my fares. The jobcentre seems to be under pressure to send people on WP. The Govt line is that the WP is for the ‘feckless workshy’ and the press seems to be colluding in this.”
That last comment is particularly telling, as there’s no mention of any of this in the Standard’s article.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.