December 15, 2009

Colour me suspicious

[Yesterday] morning, a story made my Crackers sense tingle. Not to tell me that a tabloid story was rubbish, but to tell me that something behind a few tabloid stories was very fishy indeed. there are wavy lines coming out of my head right now.

'Single mother of eight living in a £2.6m mansion - so much for Labour's housing benefit crackdown' is currently the top story on the Mail Online website. It's funny that Labour's housing benefit crackdown gets a mention in the headline, because the council responsible is Kensington and Chelsea, the toriest of tory councils.
The four-storey villa in Notting Hill, West London, which costs taxpayers £7,600 a month, has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a double living room, study and roof terrace.
says the article. And here's why the family in question has been housed there:
Miss Walker was given the house last September on a three-year lease because a rule introduced in April 2008 forces local authorities to place tenants in private properties if suitable council homes are unavailable.
Hey, I know this is Kensington and Chelsea, but do you think there might be cheaper properties in the borough. Like around Ladbroke Grove, or the World's End Estate or down towards Olympia and the West Ken Estate? Surely there are ex-council places up for grabs.

So, in the run up to an election year, a tory council just happens to reveal an extreme example of something that might make 'Labour's housing benefit crackdown' look stupid. With a single mother as the beneficiary. A dark-skinned single mother. A dark-skinned Muslim single mother. Ticks too many 'Daily Mail hatred' boxes to be an accident, right?

How about 'Taxpayers pay £1,600-a-week for family of ex-asylum seekers to live in luxury five-storey home'. Hey, this one ticks a lot of boxes too. Ex-asylum seekers (who ought to be referred to as 'refugees' by the Code of Practice that the Mail's Editor is in charge of) no less. Another set of tabloid boogeymen put in a really expensive house, this time in Westminster - the council involved in the infamous gerrymandering scandal of the 80s. We know there are lots of ex-council properties in Westminister, because the council sold off as many as they could to potential tory voters.

This time, the paper makes sure we're told:
'It's important to note that the amount of housing benefit payable for tenants is determined by government policy and not local councils. This rate is calculated and updated on a yearly basis according to the value of the local rental market. We have absolutely no discretion in this area.

'Property rents in Westminster are among the highest in the country so it is perhaps unsurprising that a family claiming housing benefit for a property of this size would need to submit a claim for this amount.

'We would, however, like to see the entire housing benefit system changed to enable councils to have more control'.
All Labour's fault, you see.

This story mentions another from last year for a win triple - 'Inquiry ordered over Afghan family living in £1.2 million 'council house''. Ooh, brown asylum seekers given ridiculously expensive housing in a tory council. Where have I heard that before?

Okay, I heard it here first since this is the oldest story, but this one caused a furore in which people ended up sacked. It took Smellyface to make the connections for us this time.

And those aren't the only differences between the first story and the two new ones. Check out the picture in the earliest story, with Ms Saiedi peeking out from behind her front door, not even opening it far enough for even the sneakiest of peeks to the inside of the house. Now look at the pictures in the two newest articles, as the residents allow an 'MTV Cribs' style showcase for the Mail.

Why, it's almost as if someone spotted the story from last year and said, "Hey - that's a jolly good way of attacking Labour," and deliberately contrived a couple more cases of scary tabloid boogeymen being given ridiculously expensive new accommodation. And then thought to remind us of the original with 'Afghan family STILL in seven-bed £1.2m house taxpayer has been funding for a year', with the nationality of the family in the headline. You know, in case we forgot.

What's the betting nobody gets sacked or disciplined this time round? Not because these two were deliberate in any way, of course, but because it's Labour's fault. I'm sure Westminster Council would never become involved in any trickery with their housing system to cynically troll for tory votes. Again.

I'm absolutely certain nobody looked at the way the loophole that allowed the original incident to occur was closed and thought, 'Ah, capped at a five-bedroom limit, eh? Let's see what we can do with that!'

That would be dishonest.

Five Chinese Crackers


Anonymous said...

There's a comment to the original thats worth seeing

"What makes the Mail story worse -and yes, it can get worse - is that they have been here before. With exactly the same story and the same photo of the woman and kids.

So, almost a year on and rehash a story, add a year onto her age, tell us that it is now in Kensington not Notting Hill (posher area y'see) and there you go. 900+ comments later...

This has made me bloody mad today. Gutter journalism at its worst."

AndyMinion (BatsMan) said...

How long will it be before the Mail or the Express (or, for that matter, the Star), regardless of their occasional, and tokenistic "Nothing British about the BNP" articles, come out as BNP supporters? Or at least recruit a "Voice of the BNP" columnist?

They've done it before...

Hurrah For The Blackshirts, indeed.

Anonymous said...

"How long will it be before the Mail or the Express (or, for that matter, the Star), regardless of their occasional, and tokenistic "Nothing British about the BNP" articles, come out as BNP supporters? Or at least recruit a "Voice of the BNP" columnist?"

It's not impossible that the Mail and/or Express would formally endorse the BNP at some time in the future but they are much more likely to back UKIP before that. The BNP would have to grow substantially with Griffin winning Barking and at least a bloc of BNP MP's in Parliament. That still looks quite a long way off. What does act as a brake to a Littlejohn or Hitchens backing the BNP is the affect it will have on their newspaper's advertisers. Remember when Jane Moir wrote that homophobic article about the death of Steven Gately in the Daily Mail a month or so ago? Pressure groups lent on companies like Marks and Spencer (who presumably care about the 'pink pound'!) to withdraw lucrative advertising. The Daily Mail turned tail and forced Moir to write a retraction. Now if the Mail backed the BNP, anti-fascist groups could do the same along the lines of, "do you want your brand or product associated with a BNP newspaper?".

Anonymous said...

Doubt that Andy they use attacks on the BNP as a cover for their non-chav racism. It's not tolkenism. They would much prefer a Tory version of the BNP but if not they wouldn't dirty their hands with the real thing!