Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Things that bug me – Part 2

Well I said I’d make up for lost time.

My second blog of the night – My earlier one can be found here : Things that bug me ! – Part 1 « Northernheckler’s Blog

Next thing I’ve seen that really bugged me  in the last few days was this pitiful article on the front page of the Daily Mail :England’s poor cancer detection and bad diet mean Slovenian women live longer which reports on the publication on the Government’s Health Profile of England 2009   http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_114938.pdf

This is just so absolutely typical of the Mail’s – “everything is terrible, and it’s all the fault of  Labour/David Cameron/Foreigners/Communists/Women/Fat people/Insert-your-own-scapegoat-here” approach to journalism.

One barely needs to read beyond the headline to sense the antipathy towards women, towards Eastern europeans, towards the National Health service, and towards the Government.

Reading on, it gets worse –

First we’re told “Health Care is so poor” – and yet this paper supposedly supports the Conservative party, whose support for the NHS is far from certain, and who definitely want to cut radically funding to public services.

It’s even worse than Slovenia – Slovenia ? Why Slovenia ? Could it be that it’s because we have some Eastern Europeans in the country at the moment, and it’s way of belittling them ? (Poland are noticeably further down the list than both Slovenia and England, but where would be the fun in saying that British women live longer than Polish women ?)

We’re given a picture of a fat woman, always the butt of so many jokes, tucking into what looks like a chicken take away. Doubtless we’re expected to believe she’ll wash it down with half a bottle of vodka, before dying of liver disease. Not that journalists ever have dodgy diets or drink alcohol.

Though the Mail picks up on the report’s concerns about alcohol related sickness and death, the claim that “deaths from chronic liver disease among women” are “driven by the rise in binge drinking” – are not at all borne out by the report – which cautions,

The method for calculating units of alcohol from drinks consumed has been revised since previous editions of the Health Profile of England. These revisions have been made to more accurately reflect the strength of some alcoholic drinks, and the way that these can be consumed. This makes comparisons over time between levels of alcohol consumption or binge drinking difficult.

but does suggest that

The proportion of pupils (aged 11-15) who had ‘drunk alcohol in the last week’ has continued to decrease since 2001.

The Mail’s version of the report though doesn’t bother with the good news, and carries on to make such utterly daft statements as :

“there was better news for English men – their life expectancy of 77 years and eight months is among the best in Europe, behind only Sweden, Italy, Cyprus and France”

Of course that won’t be much consolation for their poor old fat alcoholic unmarried female partners, as they face the final 5 years or so of their life without their already deceased men friends – still, could have been worse – they could have had their teenage pregnancies to a Slovenian

As a matter of fact the report itself  makes very interesting reading. It does draw attention to some of the biggest threats to the health of our population, but it also points out some of the major improvements that have occurred – such as for instance :

  • life expectancy at its highest rate ever – with male life expectancy amongst the highest in Europe
  • sustained reductions in infant mortality rates
  • declining mortality rates in targeted causes – cancer, circulatory problems, and suicides
  • reductions in the numbers of people smoking
  • improvements in the quality of housing stock

All of this data kept according to international comparators, in the public domain, and very open about the problems as well as the triumphs.

So why not do it some justice Daily Mail ? You have good reporters, intelligent people who can write intelligent articles that are accessible to a wide audience. Instead, again, you decide stir up resentment, disappointment, disillusionment, and anger – based on what ? Based on a biased and partial reporting of a very thorough report.

I just wish the Daily Mail would wake up to its influence and take some responsibility for its actions.

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April 2, 2010 Posted by | blogs, news, politics, women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things that bug me ! – Part 1

Hello

Sorry I haven’t published anything for a while  – I’ve been a bit busy.

I’ll try and make up for lost time.  I’m planning a small series of blogs on “Things that bug me !” – because there have been a few that have just lately !

First  thing that bugs me  is a person who insists on leaving repeated comments spouting the same untrue garbage over and over again on my blog. In case you’re reading, (and I hope not) – I only get to see your comments if I care to check the spam trap – otherwise they’re just deleted. I’ve manually deleted all of your other comments too, even the ones I originally let through. My advice to you is to start your own blog, oh and try and make it more interesting. And get out more.

Returning to my theme …

Things that bug me :  The rubbish being spouted about the rise in National Insurance contributions.

Since the budget we’ve seen lots of media outlets, including my old favourites The Mail give David Cameron unwarranted publicity because he doesn’t think raising National Insurance contributions is a good idea. The Mail managed to call it a “stealth tax” Osborne: I’ll cut Labour’s National Insurance stealth tax on jobs | Mail Online . Call me contrary but announcing a tax rise in the Budget, live on television, in Parliament, doesn’t really seem all that stealthy. In fact I’d say it’s really making it rather obvious.

Making it so obvious though didn’t really make it so that the BBC noticed it. Take a look at their At a Glance coverage from Budget Day.BBC News – At-a-glance: Budget 2010 key points – scroll down to the bit about National Insurance. Can’t find it ? Try searching for “National” or “insurance” or “NIC” – still not got it ? No that’s because they didn’t think it worth mentioning.

Strange then that they should now be making such a fuss, this article being one of several which gives prominence to “Business Leaders” disparaging views of the rise in NICs :  BBC News – Cameron says Labour on ‘wrong side of working people

I could if I wished look at the contradictions in the Tory position – which seems to shift from draconian cuts one day, to who knows what the next, but really that isn’t what ‘bugs’ me so much – that’s their prerogative as a political party.

What really annoys me is that so many media outlets are giving such credence to these “Business Leaders” – many of whom are donors to the Tories, and who have no more qualification to speak on this subject than anyone else, and presenting it as “balanced news”

David Cameron says that it “is an impressive list of businesses” –  Excuse me – 41 ? that’s very few indeed.

I don’t run a business I run a school. I don’t oppose the increase in National Insurance rise – is that news ? No of course not – and neither is the opinion of these “executives”

They are of course entitled to their opinions, and the Conservative party are entitled to theirs, and of course to change the budget if they are elected.

Which sort of draws attention to the fact placed in smaller print in most of these articles – the rise doesn’t come in until April 2011 – so actually, if it IS likely that increases in NICs will affect the economy adversely, the Labour government would also have at least 2 opportunities – the pre-budget statement, and the next annual budget to change direction if need be.

But the BBC – who are supposed to be impartial – choose not to make a big issue of that.

The 1% rise is of course, actually a half a percent rise on what was already planned in 2008’s budget – and somehow that didn’t seem to make as many waves back then.

This is biased and partisan reporting – the BBC in particular should have higher standards than this.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | blogs, economy, news, politics | , , , | 1 Comment

   

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