Sunday, January 03, 2010

"Egremont Today" gets hot under the collar

Labour's "Egremont Today" news sheet gets in rather a strop, which you can currently read on their website here because I described them in a post on this blog on 1st November as "A Labour party propaganda sheet."

I think my exact description was "Labour's 'Egremont Today' propaganda sheet, which masquerades as a community newspaper."

This comes a few weeks after Copeland's Labour MP Jamie Reed was forced by the Deputy Speaker to withdraw a comment likening David Cameron to a pro-Nazi war criminal. In this context I find the idea that it is a mortal insult to suggest that a publication put out by a political party contains some of their propaganda to be so disproportionate as to be quite funny. But Copeland Labour Party have always been much better at dishing out criticism than taking it.

Like the vast majority of material put out by local political parties, "Egremont Today" contains some community material, and some which is an expression of their own political views.

In particular, the September, October and November issues of Egremont Today had carried a number of articles which grossly misrepresented Conservative Policy, ranging from statements which I strongly disagree with to demonstrable falsehoods. I fisked some of the worst examples in an article by the local MP in the November edition here.

Egremont Today's editors have the right to express and circulate their views and I have the right to express mine. And when they make false statements about the Conservatives, I have the right to explain where they are wrong and describe it as Labour propaganda, and I will continue to do so.

I note however that, judging by what has been published on the web, Egremont Today's January 2010 edition appears to be largely free of the kind of propaganda to which I took exception in 2009. Long may this continue.

5 comments:

Jane said...

It is rather strange that the retiring editor of 'Egremont Today' should get so hot under the collar about a PPC discussing politics on his website. Even more bizarre is the offence taken about discussing politics at all. Possibly I am being a bit thick or is it bourgeois, now the class war is officially on, for being interested in discussing politics. When Labour talk about politics (all be it in chimera) they are telling the truth, reflecting reality, representing the people and not being political! Telling the people what they want and need. When Conservatives discuss political issues they are politically incorrect and essentially bad for using the word politics.

Labour you patronise the working people you purport to represent. You think folks do not want to read intelligent discussion. Dumb down the masses with trivia.

The display of playground politics at Copeland's Full Council Meeting on December 8th demonstrated how unable Labour is to conduct debate and take criticism.

In the words of John Lennon's 'Working Class Hero'. "They hate you if your clever and despise a fool. You think you're so clever and classless and free, but you still ******* peasants as far as I can see".

Side-kick can quote popular culture too. Less of the inverted snobbery please. 'Working Class Hero' is one of my favourite songs. I don't like to see good folks deceived and patronised. Labour you have certainly learned "how to smile when you kill" in order to become "like the folks on the hill". Just look at the state of the economy and Copeland's ruling dynasty. Where is the meritocracy? So frightened of challenge!

peter said...

Chris, first may I thank you for providing a link to the article which I wrote in Egremont Today. I am encouraged by the number of references on your blog to our paper and in every case that Caryl or I have responded we have done so simply by putting the full facts at the disposal of readers. I did not feel any anger when I wrote the article but simply asked our readers to judge from the paper in front of them whether your description of it as "a Labour propaganda sheet masquerading as a community newspaper" (fully quoted in our hard copies) was fair. There are bound to be some differences between the newspaper people receive through their letter boxes and an on-line version, and any readers of your blog who would like to be included, free of charge, on our mailing list, is welcome to email us at
egremont2@aol.com
I will also put a copy in your council pigeon hole if I may be do so without being accused of abusing council privileges.
I do not hide under any masque at all. Egremont Labour Party has published ET for very nearly 20 years without missing a single month. We are driven to do so by our love of our community and by our socialist convictions. We are just bored by adversarial politics and by knee-jerk antagonism on either side. You are not our enemy but our opponent and my opposition is all the more effective for being cool and focused.

Chris Whiteside said...

Peter, thanks for your comments.

To judge from the internet version of Egremont Today's current issue, I would not consider that anything in it would justify a repeat of the description I used for the three issues quoted in the blogpost above. I still consider that some of the articles in those issues published last year did amount to propaganda, and that it was fair for me to say so and explain why.

I entirely agree that the Conservative and Labour parties are opponents rather than enemies, and that we can and should debate the issues honestly and openly in a democratic system. We can recognise that we will sometimes strongly disagree without the need to get cross or hostile.

That is all the more important given than there are likely to be people contesting the next election who, unlike both our parties and other mainstream ones, do not share our commitment to the principle that all British citizens, regardless of their opinions, creed, and the colour of their skin, should have an equal voice within that democracy.

Vigorous debate is all to the good but when democrats go over the top it is those who are not true democrats who will benefit.

Jane said...

Peter,

The original objection was to some factual inaccuracies/untruths that MP Jamie Reed stated with regard to Conservative policy towards the NHS, in a previous publication. These have been repeated on several occasions, one was in Egremont Today. Conservatives have not continually voted against policies supporting the NHS or local hospitals. In fact they have been far more consistent than Jamie Reed. Chris Whiteside supported the 'Save Our Services' Campaign from the outset.

Some of the articles that came off your press (not all of which are community orientated) are untrue and can be deemed offensive. Therefore you should not be surprise at a reaction. I was not overly keen on the implication that I some how anyonmously sneaked into the St. Bees and Egremont District in the County Elections. This was in one of your flyers. How can someone who stands for the Council, put out a leaflet with her photograph on it and have her residential address published on the ballot paper, be anonymous?

Stop pretending. You are a political paper, socialism is political. No problem with that we can be opponents and not enemies. Lets just call a spade a spade and be honest here.

It is extremely likely that there will be a Conservative Government by the middle of this year at the latest. If you want to attract investment into this area you would be wise to work with the Conservatives. There are issues like health, nuclear new build and general regeneration issues on which we should be working to get maximum benefit for Copeland.

I sincerely hope that this will be a clean and respectful election campaign. I do not want to see a repeat of the propaganda that came off the Labour press during the County Council Election Campaign in Millom. Keep to political debate and avoid personal attacks. If you mean what you say there will be constructive debate, built on mutual respect that can be transformed into good governance.

Lorna Lewthwaite said...

Dear Sir, I am a Cumbrian living in the wilds of Lincolnshire and this local paper gives me news of my home town. At first I didn't know it was sponsored by the Labour Party, but to be honest I don't care. It keeps me in touch and lets me know what is going on as at most I manage a visit twice a year. The people who run it are doing a good job and they should be proud of themselves. Lorna