All 3 entries tagged Spin
February 12, 2009
Much of the media seemed to fall for the Department for Transport’s PR this morning.
‘Super express’ trains contract gives boost to British jobs said the Guardian.
The Daily Mail said: Government buys British for intercity train fleet
The Telegraph seemed to fall hook, line and sinker: Next generation of Intercity trains to be built in Britain they said.
The only trouble is, none of those headlines appear to be entirely accurate.
They all stemmed from the DfT’s confident announcement that ‘This will create or safeguard some 12,500 manufacturing jobs in these regions [of the UK].’
But as the day’s gone on, that number’s begun to look like a big ball of spin.
The 12,500 appears to include maintenance workers, who could hardly have found their jobs offshored! “Safeguarding”, here, seems like an exaggeration.
Rather than 12,500 manufacturing jobs, as stated by the DfT, Hitachi promise their shareholders the deal will “secure up to 12,500 direct and indirect jobs in the local supply and services industry and local supporting communities.” It doesn’t say create, and doesn’t say manufacturing. “Local supporting communities” could mean Joyce who works in the nearby corner shop.
What’s more, it appears the trains will be designed and, largely, constructed in Japan. Only the final assembly and some basic manufacturing will be done in Britain.
Transport Briefing says just 500 manufacturing jobs will be created here in Britain. I’ll repeat that again: Five Hundred.
It appears that of the Department for Transport’s headline figure, just 2.5% are new jobs.
Why does all of this matter? Well, there was another bid for the £7.5bn tender from Bombardier, who are based in Derby and would have designed and constructed the trains in Britain.
I’m not a protectionist, but the spin coming out of the DfT today has been particularly effective, and particularly deceitful. Slowly the media’s realising they’ve been had.
Edit: The BBC just beat me to it on the spin story.
June 12, 2007
The media is threatening politicians’ “capacity to take the right decisions for the country”. Modern media means that reports are “driven by impact”. The relationship between the media and politics has been “damaged”.
Blair’s back in cuckoo land. His first statement assumes that politicians always know what the right decisions are. The second one is a joke when you consider how the Alastair Campbells of this world have timed announcements for maximum impact. And finally, politicians are equally to blame for the damaged relationship.
Contrary to popular belief, there wasn’t a snap change overnight in May 1997. The Thatcher era expanded the divide between reporters and the reported. But 24-hour news did make a difference. It led to constant analysis of decisions, so that the cooling-down period offered by the newspapers’ life-cycle was destroyed. The new diversity of media sources also made a difference. There is now an outlet for every viewpoint, however extreme or forthright.
But the preferential treatment and spinning dealt out by New Labour put unbearable pressure on the always difficult relationship between journalists and politicians.
It’s right that journalism should ask challenging questions of the powerful. In its perfect form, journalism is the voice of the people, although in practice it only sometimes achieves that aim. But Tony Blair and co took these challenges as a personal slight.
It is the way in which modern politicians react to the modern media which has damaged the relationship between the two.
May 02, 2007
John Major writes an interesting piece in today’s Times. Interesting for what he doesn’t say, as much as what he does.
You might expect, a day before local elections in England and slightly more important ones in Wales and Scotland, that there might be just a little bit of electioneering going on. There is, but not much. The best he can really manage is:
it is once again becoming an exciting time to be a Conservative. Most of our party understand that we will only win if we recapture the centre ground as well as holding the centre-right.
...which is more navel-gazing than soap-box. You don’t expect the finest flowing rhetoric from Major, but he could have tried a little harder.
His article is a criticism of Labour spin – an argument that set sail long ago, really – but many of his criticisms are as easily applied to his successor-but-three, David Cameron. He says:
new Labour only has sound-bites and apparatchiks, careless of constitutional proprieties, who will use any unscrupulous trick to benefit the Government
...but replacing Labour for ‘Conservative’ and Government for ‘opposition’ doesn’t really stretch the imagination. David Cameron himself is the Master apparatchik, regularly employing unscrupulous tricks and gimmicks at PMQs. Admittedly, he’s not had time to prove a disdain for the constitution, but that’s much easier to try from the opposite bench.
Which begs the question… if John Major dislikes spin so much, and in his retirement can maybe see through partisanship a little, does he like Mr Cameron? His Conservatism seems, from the available evidence, pretty detached from that of the 1990s, when Major was in charge. But on policy it’s probably fair to assume they’re still not very far apart. In style however, they are Ying and Yang, Beauty and the Beast, Pete Doherty and Cliff Richard.
Some of his criticisms are notably not aimed at the government, but are a broader view of British political parties. Is he tempted to make his views of Cameron more explicit, or does he not need to?