A rare departure from just slagging off the papers

In the Mail today, we have a story with the headline 'Unemployment rate six times higher than official figures' and it fair takes me back, it does guv'nor.

See, way back in the eighties, when I was an impressionable adolescent in my early teens, I used to be a bit of a tory boy. I didn't really understand an awful lot about politics, and when I went to school, being on the right side of the fence actually made you a bit of a rebel and - oh sod it, enough of the weak excuses. I didn't know what I was doing. I swear. I turned to the light side after seeing an old schools and colleges programme about Plato's ideas on rhetoric, which explained how someone with a weaker argument can end up winning a debate, and the whole house of cards began to tumble down. Lucky New Labour weren't around then, eh?

Anyway - one of the actual issues that started me on the path of thinking 'hang about - they're talking shite' is when the tories started banging on about how figures were much lower than reported 'in real terms'. The tories' new measure of unemployment figures 'in real terms' were one of the main things that had me blowing raspberries at right wing politics. The government had started banging on about how much lower unemployment was in 'real terms' when what they actually meant was 'if we discount loads of people who are actually unemployed from the figures, and only count those on unemployment benefit'. I suppose it was my introduction to lying spin.

I kind of always knew it was a matter of time before the right started bleating about these figures as if it's not lying tory spin. Of course, it's lying Labour spin now too, but we're still in pot-meet-kettle territory.

And it could have been so different. Back in '97, as I emerged from a number of years of wearing too many lumberjack shirts, listening to too much Smashing Pumpkins and declaring politics as 'rubbish' - as I sat in a chip shop and was among the people in the shop who cheered when a bloke walked in and said, 'I'll have my first portion of chips under a Labour government for eighteen years please,' Labour had so much goodwill to spend. How easy would it have been to say, 'right, this is where things are and we have to fix them,' and then report things as they actually were instead of carrying on with the spin that had already been put on them? Not to mention spinning things like a spinny spinny spin thing themselves.

Instead we got all that Thatcher's heir bollocks.


No comments: