Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Differing levels of reality

Sometimes you just have to take your hat off to the Mail; they know what their role is and do it with a certain style. It can be difficult sometimes to be a partisan newspaper; how do you deal with a report that runs contrary to the narrative your readers want to believe? Watch and learn, kiddies, watch and learn...

So the Equality and Human Rights Commission has released a report which finds that;

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues
The BBC's account of this report continues by pointing out that 'the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents', that council housing is 'awarded on the basis of need', that 'economic migrants cannot apply for housing for the first five years after settling in the UK', and that 'Just 11% of new arrivals get help with housing - almost all of them asylum seekers' (ie people with literally no way of supporting themselves). It quotes Trevor Phillips and housing minister John Healey both describing the widespread belief, so utterly entrenched in the Mail, that immigrants get priority in council housing, as a 'myth'.

Now, you or I might just decide to ignore this report, but the Mail loves a challenge. So whereas the BBC reports that housing doesn't favour migrants in its headline, the Mail goes, quite brilliantly, with One in ten state-subsidised homes goes to an immigrant family. Now that, folks, that takes balls. Hilariously, this article has the colossal testicular fortitude to acknowledge partway through that the idea that immigrants jump council housing queues is a 'misconception', and yet STILL runs with that fucking headline, and opts for this as its opening gambit:

Nearly 400,000 homes have gone to tenants who were born abroad, the Government's equality watchdog has said.

One in ten state-subsidised homes is occupied by an immigrant family, according to the first estimate of the impact of immigration on social housing

(Incidentally, essentially the same article is hosted on another URL with the even worse headline 'How ten per cent of State housing is taken up by immigrants').

I wonder if Mail writers, particularly headline writers, ever ask themselves if this kind of thing is, y'know, okay? Taking a report, ignoring the conclusion, pulling out irrelevant statistics from it and slapping them in the headline in a misleading way, to back up the very fucking prejudices the report says are without foundation. Indeed, the Mail's article acknowledges all this, and includes many of the facts and opinions which form the basis of the BBC article. It just changes the headline and sticks a wildly context-free, scaremongering figure at the start. The best part of all this is that papers do this kind of thing and then have the sheer audacity to criticise politicians for using 'spin'.


  1. The daily mail relies on the fact that its readership (or rather ‘take a quick glance at the scaremongering headlineship’) don’t examine with interest, contrast with their intellect, nor indeed even read their purile articles in full. It appears daily mail readers invent articles around the quickly digested headline, which never deviates beyond what they expect to hear, and what they expect to hear is mindless, inept bigotry portrayed as common sense logic.
    The daily mail may as well fill itself with page after page of ‘AHHHHHH Britians gone mad’ intermittently spliced by ‘AHHHH its political correctness gone mad!’ with an audio version of Amanda Patell just screaming mindlessly on a loop.

    Great piece by the way

  2. just posting this here as a general example of Mail cuntery, no idea if this has been picked up by other sites as i've only just seen it:


    After the recent case with the elderly couple kicking up a fuss about gay adoption you can probably guess that the above link isn't quite telling the whole story, but I must admit I was surprised to find out the extent of it:



    and yes,



  3. Cheers for that Geraint, pretty grim stuff. I like this part though:

    "But what if social workers have got it wrong? In the light of Baby P and so many other scandals, it's hardly impossible is it?"

    That would be the Baby P case where the social services were criticised for NOT taking a child out of a home where something appeared to be wrong, would it? Really don't envy the job of social workers; if anything had happened to this kid people would be getting sacked left and right with screaming Facebook groups everywhere. When the opposite happens we get these 'Stalinist social services took my baby' stories.