Sunday, January 20, 2008


Just watched the Andrew Marr show. There's a new BBC service that let's you re-view (I think for a week) it here.

Now in line with my new notion of getting all philosophical, what struck me was just how much of what was trotted out, covering a wealth of rather depressing areas, could surely be put down to simple overcrowding and, possibly, by extension population.

That said, having lived in cities like Hong Kong, where population density makes London look like the moors, it is certainly true that there have to be cultural failings as well that lead to societal breakdown of the scale we are seeing.

But what really worried me was the ongoing total lack of quality when it comes to our public service leadership and those in the media they deal with, to actually say anything meaningful, let alone, true, or factually correct, such that one can get anywhere near forming an informed opinion on what is happening, what the people in charge think about it or what they plan to do. If I heard 'looking at' once I must have heard it a hundred times! I do not pay folk to look at things. They have had 10 years to gaze. And if it is broke it needs fixing. Not looking at any more.

So we had the likes of the Home Secretary and the leader of the Lib Dems wittering on about generalities and saying nothing. Or if they did it didn't compute or get caught up by the interviewer.

For instance, and it is telling that I cannot now recall whether it was the Labour lady or Lib Dem man who said it after just an hour, there was the claim that in an area of the country a young person would die 14 years earlier if poor than their richer counterparts.

Well... d'uh. Thing is, this was in relation to a conversation to the NHS. How the heck can a figure like that be trotted out on the specific area of health care whilst ignoring all other societal factors?

In combo none is a great reflection, but a poorer person is more likely surely to eat a poorer diet, perhaps smoke and drink more due to less guidance on the perils, have more exposure to dangerous drugs or be in the wrong pub at the wrong time or drive a car without ABS and an airbag.

It was a silly soundbite that spoke volumes... of mush. And it came from a national leader and stayed unchallenged in its simplicity and, I'd maintain inaccuracy, by a national broadcaster's supposedly top interviewer.



Times - Jacqui Smith admits 'I won't walk down a street alone at night'

My main concern is that in an interview on a major BBC show (Andrew Marr), this was mentioned and she said it was not true that she'd said it [like this]. And I'm pretty sure the question was raised because of this article.

Maybe this might explaina bit: '...but the words are unquotable – the kind of robot-speak perfected by Labour ministers who never deviate from the script.'

But to the quote. Well here is the relevant section:

Would she feel safe walking alone at night in, say, Hackney, east London? She looks alarmed: “No. Why would I do that?”

Perhaps deprived Hackney is an unfair example – what about well-heeled Kensington and Chelsea? “No. But I would never have done, at any point in my life. I just don’t think it’s a thing that people do. I wouldn’t walk around at midnight. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to do so.”

Later an aide calls me fretting about these comments.

I can see why. The robot-speak actually had a short-circuit and a glimmer of truth came out. Allowing for editorial licence (and not very much in this case) it seems a fair version if that is how the interview went.

So how then was she allowed to fudge like she did? Either the Sunday Times was wrong or she was. And now it has all dribbled away. Not feeling very well served by my government... or media these days, sadly.

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