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Friday, 21 May 2010

Scraping The Barrel

Away from politics in the wake of the election loss, Alastair Campbell still has plenty to occupy himself, not least his reply to a shockingly bad piece of ranting hackery coming from those less than well intentioned folk at the Daily Mail.

Big Al has taken particular exception to a tirade in Wednesday’s paper by Janet Street-Porter, who as everyone knows is famous for ... er, maybe we should just move right along. One thing Janet is notorious for is the ability to spew out faux shock pieces, which by fortunate coincidence is in tune with the why-oh-why orientation of the Mail, and its legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre.

And the object of Street-Porter’s disdain this week has been those who suffer from depression. This is a condition that has never affected me, and mightily glad I am too: the description of the condition by sufferers, and the effect it has on those around them, is grim enough. Campbell has suffered for over two decades, and his openness about the condition has helped raise awareness – and combat ignorance and prejudice about it.

So I can understand Big Al being less than impressed by Street-Porter comparing depression to a “must have” fashion accessory. This is the crudest and cruellest of stereotypes, demonstrating a staggering level of ignorance and intolerance. Moreover, by falsely linking depression and stress, she reveals how little research – if any – was done beforehand. Therefore her appalling hackery is completely at home on the pages of the Daily Mail.

Also, Street-Porter’s rant is not a one-off: she is a regular columnist on the paper. And no regulars are in the Daily Mail without the approval of Paul Dacre. So if there is one legitimate target for the revulsion that even many commenting on the Mail website clearly feel, Dacre is it. In the meantime, if he wants to inform and educate his readership, rather than repel them, he could do worse than hire a columnist who knows what they are talking about.

And send Janet Street-Porter to spend more time with her bus pass.

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