Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First Casualty of Circulation

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." 
Winston Churchill

I attracted yet another mention in the Gazette’s ‘Smudger’ yesterday, a literary accolade which is fast becoming a habit. Mind you, if she can only get me for a ‘missed apostrophe’ in a comment reply on this blog, as a recommendation for urgent remedial English tuition, then as a local politician, I’m getting off lightly.

I did notice a few gems that missed her satirical wit. The first of these was my remark at the Westgate & Westbrook Residents' Association, in front of a reporter, that I had absolutely no confidence in the local paper to report anything I have said truthfully and that I wouldn’t be surprised to read that I had recommended that the ‘Arlington house be painted pink’. (My earlier remarks removed by request)


Anyway, Smudger now has her political ‘Dream team’ in place and I’m sure she’s very pleased about it too!

Satire is a difficult subject to do well and even with Christmas fast approaching, I don’t find my inspiration hiding at the bottom of a large gin and tonic. Eastcliff Richard had a real talent for the medium before his prose became dark and ugly and finally dropped him in serious trouble with members of our local community – allegedly – that no sensible blogger would attempt to annoy.

So satire arguably is one of the most useful tools in keeping modern democracy honest and Guy Fawkes and Private Eye magazine lead the pack. However, there’s a distinct line between satire and bullying when one is thinly disguised as another and a newspaper or its editor, local or national uses it as a medium to express personal animosity, to discredit, belittle or to put it bluntly, tell lies.

On a blog, for example one has an opportunity to respond robustly but no such chance exists beyond the letters page of a newspaper which few people read unless they happen to be looking for the latest installment of the regular anti-Roger Gale campaign from Mr Muir of Westgate or what I might politely describe as ‘Fantasy island’ politics from John Worrow.

If satire is a tool to keep politicians honest then I must ask who keeps newspapers honest, because the Leveson inquiry is showing us only too well that honesty and journalism make uncomfortable bedfellows and that truth is invariably the first casualty of tabloid circulation.

PS.. if you spot a missing apostrophe let me know!

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

You missed the the apostrophe from the word resident's :)

DrM. said...

And there was me thinkining we had more than one resident in westgate; ie Residents

If it were Resident's then it would be possesive ; ie the resident's key .... Singular

DrM. said...

Following a direct request, I have removed my original reference to an unnamed political leader who the paper report retired for health and disability reasons over ten years ago

Anonymous said...

I think the apostrophe should be after the word, ie residents' association. It is possessive, the association belongs to the residents.

DrM. said...

I left my reading glasses in the aircraft and just noticed that i have committed the greater sin of mispelling possessive on my IPad... I sense a mention in Smudger coming for my speling 2 ....!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree but I still think "residents' association" is correct - it can be possessive and plural. I'm not getting at you, by the way - I think the Gazette is being petty.

DrM. said...

To be honest i think you are probably right, so I will change it, so score one for you and you arewelcome to act as editor!

Tim Clark said...

Since you started this literary spat by deciding that Labour were not educated enough to govern, it ill behoves you to complain when someone points out errors in your grammar.
Thank you also for confirming what many of us suspected after the Tesco Bag incident and the departure of ECR; that there are sinister shadows working in the background on this Island whose existence is, at the very least suspected by you.
I also hope that your M11 tweet yesterday was from the back of a chauffeur-driven car; I'm sure that you weren't using a mobile phone or iPad illegally.

DrM. said...

I think we are debating the position of an apostrophe here and nothing more serious, so lighten up a bit. If you want some real howlers then I recommend a certain person's Twitter stream. That' s person singular of course!

As for the M11 i was parked on it for a very long time with 1000's of other frustrated motorists. I should add that I also have a hands free phone and an iPhone 4s with Siri which you might have heard of.

As for Tesco Bags, they were a Red Herring because having read through the contents, there was nothng there Of public concern

ECR was different and I can only speculate as did others!

Finally, i normally use an IPad and the keyboard isn't great and the comment box is small. So i make typing mistakes but I'm sure you'll grant they are not with any remarkable frequency and I'm hardly writing an essay to be marked by you or anyone else.

Michael Child said...

Simon since some of the debate here seems have degenerated to colon level, I will give my contribution to the literary debate.

I believe the quote "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Originally was made up by or first taken from folklore, not sure which by C H Spurgeon “The prince of preachers” then later used by Mark Twain, which is where Churchill is thought to have got it from.

Readit said...

Beware Simon, Smudger may have hacked you iphone and deleted all the apostrophes.

Will DrM be the next celeb. to give evidence to Leveson in order to bolster flagging career prospects.

Col said...

So 'Smudger' is a 'she'?
That part of the paper would have more credibility if she had the courage to put her name to it. I disagree that she writes satire ... it reads more like venemous sarcasm to me.
Thanks for a year of blogs Simon, and even although I do not do politics, your other stuff keeps me entertained.

DrM. said...

Curious.. blogger appears to have lost several comments, including one of my own, overnight!

Tim Clark said...

If the Gazette is telling lies, (presumably about you since I doubt you'd be interested if they were telling lies about Clive Hart) I expect that you'll be suing them, or at least telling the rest of us what the lies are so that we can spot them in future.

DrM. said...

It stands to reason that I wouldn't know if they were telling lies about Clive Hart. After all it's in a paper so it mus be true!

The difference here is that I don't like bullies and unlike others, I can push back vigorously, when lies are told and as I have regularly done here, put the record straight.

i.e reportedly "I'm too important to take calls from journalists" but then I happen to be in Abu Dhabi - I'm officially listed as away, they know that - and I'm responding to Gazette emails instead, in near real time, on my iPad between meetings, directing them to the right person to answer their questions on a topic that isn't for me anyway.

Where I wonder, did Smudger 'get off' by involving my wife, a QEQM hospital chaplain, in her sarcastic, catty comments? It did however outrage many people when she did. Perhaps my teenage daughter is next?

Tim Clark said...

I don't remember the piece about your wife but families, whether they be chaplains or chars, are off limits unless they choose otherwise. Cherie Blair being an excellent example of one who chose otherwise.
Your animosity towards IoTG and specifically Rebecca Smith is now better understood by all who read your diary. Behaviour such as you have reported is completely unacceptable and is one reason why central Government needs to press on with a Bill of Rights.
You must really have offended to provoke this sort of reaction. Maybe Rebecca, who I'm sure reads the local blogs, would care to comment.

Peter Checksfield said...

I've always found Rebecca more than OK myself, & whenever my name has been used in her papers (either as the main article or in a passing comment) it's been balanced & fair.

She's also rather beautiful.

DrM. said...

Hooray for Peter then!

Anonymous said...

Best advise Rebecca to hang on tight to her kit when Peter is about then!

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by the piece you have removed Sinon. Go on, dish the dirt and give your followers a laugh to cheer us up this Christmas.

Tim Clark said...

Suspect that Simon doesn't want the same fate as ECR. Don't offend the local Mafia - they know where you live!

DrM. said...

Nothing to do with the local mafia I'm afraid, simply a comment on another politician that in the interests of political harmony I removed. I'm sure that if the roles were reversed Labour, on past record, wouldn't extend the same courtesy

Tim Clark said...

No prizes for guessing who!

Anonymous said...

I miss ECR

Anonymous said...

And Lucy!