Thursday, January 29, 2009

[A version of this posting also appears on Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service]


Any one spared the front page of today's Times escapes this image:

Now, we all know that the Press has an agenda. It amounts to a demand for a constantly-changing cast of characters, like some continuing soap opera. Personalities are invented, built up, then slaughtered, that a new face might then be introduced to continue the drama.

Politics is treated like a Moebius strip. In Britain, though, the same side has been to the fore over more than a decade. In David Cameron the newspapers have a new leading light, one of their own, that they can recognise: the former PR man for a failed television company. He is a metropolitan face to be enhanced, photoshopped and deified: only then can his feet of clay be chipped away.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Murdoch's Morning Moan.

1946 and all that

The hyperbole in employing this image is breath-taking. There are no points of recognition between the Britain of 2009 and that of sixty-odd years previously. Repeat: absolutely none.

To suggest a neat parallel is to belittle the intellect of a reader.

It simply overdoes the doom and gloom.

Now, let's strike an equally relevant comparison. This is another image of London in 1946:

Malcolm has commented, at length, on this one before. It is as propagandist as that picture used by the Times. It is as positive and upbeat as the other is negative and defeatist.

What further irritates is that the Times story is predicated to the IMF forecast, published on Wednesday (yesterday). Now, IMF forecasts tick along with metronomic regularity: how many of us check their subsequent accuracy?

For example, last November the outlook for the UK was growth for 2008 at 1% (down from its earlier shot of 1.8%) and -0.1% for 2009 (down from +1.8%). Around the same time, the IMF was predicting average oil-prices for this year at $68 (down from a previous guess of $100): in real time, oil closed yesterday at $42 or so.

This is Mystic Meg stuff, with as much value as a fortune cookie. Just because it’s got a fancy label, doesn’t make it Ch√Ęteau Lafite. Just because it has the IMF good-housekeeping seal of approval doesn't make it come true.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Malcolm returned from the local supermarket. Within a hundred paces of his front gate are eight -- no, count them again, nine -- tradesman's vans. Garden walls are being built. Kitchens replaced. Double-glazing installed. Blockwork is being ground for paths and driveways. Here is an electrician. There a plumber. Someone is upgrading their tv reception. It was on a Thursday morning that the gas-man came to call.

The immediate neighbourhood of Redfellow Hovel is a hive of activity, and of paid and productive labour. Sphere: Related Content

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