Friday, 28 May 2010

Merrick + Headline = Scare

The Northern Echo's front page headline and story today about reductions in local police budgets is journalism at its most sensational. Despite "Durham Police Authority promising that its front-line service will be protected" the eye-grabbing headline reads "Budget cuts will hit police numbers", which is quite clearly not what the article below says.

North Yorkshire Police say there will be no effect on front-line staff. Durahm Police say there will be no effect on front-line staff. Cleveland Police say there "could" be an effect though they will "try not to affect the service to the public".

Yet we have a scare-mongering headline clearly designed to suggest that the numbers of police on the beat where you live will be cut. And the Leader inside repeats fears about a decline in community policing.

Nowhere in the article does it mention the deficit and the desperate need for the new Government to take action to reduce this - to avoid our country following Greece into economic and financial meltdown. Nowhere in the article does it say that the actions being taken by the Coalition have been necessary because of the grotesque way in which the Labour Government ramped up the deficit in order to buy votes.

The result in Thirsk and Malton, showing a sizeable swing from Labour to both the Coalition parties, shows that the electorate are not stupid. They realise the Labour Government got us into this mess and the Coalition has to take firm action to get us out of it. By allowing Rob Merrick free reign to write scare stories about Coalition policies is out of tune with public opinion and is, frankly, poor journalism.


james said...

Mike, I know that the Liberals have liquidated themselves and joined the Tories - and that their scare line is that the Greek crisis necessitates rushed spending cuts here - but consider the following:

An age of austerity across Europe will mean export-led growth in the UK economy will be weaker than expected, meaning the recovery will depend more on domestic markets - this changed situation actually reduces the case for immediate spending cuts!

That Labour didn't do so well in Thirsk and Malton is hardly representative of wider public opinion - representative surveys of which show that the richer you are, the more satisfied you will be with the coalition. And no wonder, with a cabinet packed with millionaires hell bent on making ordinary people pay for their crisis.

ianh said...

as is usual, i amsure the truth lies somewhere between the arguments given above.
If forces are saying that they can make these very significant cuts without affecting front line services, then that is an admission of in-efficiency that they must be held accountable for.
ie heads should roll.

Plus we have one of the forces admitting that fron line services may be impacted upon.
Therefore, the story is not particulalry sensationalist as far as paper headline goes and its a bit disapointing to hear mike take this tack.

Mike Barker said...

A more accurate headline, though not one likely to increase sales, would have been: "Wasteful bureaucracy cut to protect front-line services".

Anonymous said...

Mike are turning... blue ? ? ?

james said...

But the cuts will mean that recruiting extra police to meet demand will certainly be out of the question - therefore the headline is accurate, Mike. Your proposed alternative is less sound in terms of journalism - it assumes fewer "wasteful bureaucrats" will have no impact on frontline policing.

I'd like to take issue with your assertion that Labour "ramped up the deficit" in a bid to win votes. No doubt you'll be using this for a good few years, but the idea that Labour caused a recession and bailed out bankers to win votes is absurd. These things were the cause of the growing deficit, Mike - and these things allowed economic recovery to take place.

Mike Barker said...

I find myself in the interesting position, for the first time since joining a political party in 1971, of being a member of a party which is part of Government.

I am certainly not turning Blue, but I am prepared to support the Coalition and argue its case locally because I believe that Lib Dem policies within the Coalition platform are worth fighting for.

Labour emptied the coffers and put this country in a parlous economic state. Even the Shadow Chancellor admitted that public spending would have to be cut, in his words, more severely than under Thatcher.

Some Labour politicians, one very close to home, produce crocodile tears and attack the Coalition for taking this necessary action. Yes, there will be job losses in our region as everywhere else: the alternative, if we took no action, would be much worse.

james said...

Mike - how is it "necessary" to cut spending within this financial year.

Clearly, it was a political choice. And one the LibDems fought an election opposing on the grounds that it would harm the recovery.

As I've tried to explain before, the Tories can see the benefit of letting the recession run its course like they have in the past.

And I've already explained above why austerity measures enacted following sovereign debt crises in the Eurozone, the UK's largest export market, make it even more likely sudden cuts will threaten recovery. So why are you supporting this Tory policy which you stood for election opposing only a few weeks ago?