The insular mentality of chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings and his hangers-on was never better demonstrated than by the mistaken belief that any hearts and minds would be won over by using Government social media accounts to browbeat and bully journalists. No voters will be swayed by such tactics, and those on the receiving end certainly won’t be put off their stride. They wouldn’t be journalists if they were.
But that is where we are right now, and the trail begins in Manchester, where the MEN told readers yesterday
“the ‘Everyone In’ policy - guidance from government to councils issued in March that said they should self isolate all rough sleepers, if necessary in hotels, and that they would be supported financially to do so - had been wound up, according to advice received by local officials
”. Jennifer Williams then got the polecat treatment.
“The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government issued a vehement rebuttal … [it] refuted any suggestion ‘funding has been withdrawn’ and branded the article ‘inaccurate’ on social media
”. Sadly for the ministry, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s “letter to the secretary of state makes clear that the ‘Everyone In’ programme has indeed been scrapped
”. Ms Williams set out her thoughts on Twitter.
“Entirely cautious about positing any theory, but far more than one informed person suggests there’s a red wall aspect to this and I agree. In short though: back off bullying journalists on social media. It’s not anyone’s job but it certainly isn’t why any of us pay our taxes
”. Shades of the infamous @toryeducation Twitter feed, but without the laughs.
Meanwhile, Ms Williams also noted “worth noting they also went nuts about a two day old Newsnight story about local govt £
”. That was pitched by Lewis Goodall, who also had something to say about the way he was polecatted. “Y’day, MHCLG used taxpayers' money to write this [rebuttal]. Funnily enough, it fails to mention that I put the story to them well in advance. Then received no reply. I chased them 24 hours later
”. There was more.
“I have pointed out to the department the writing of such material, in this context, can hardly be considered a proper use of civil service time or resource and almost certainly is in violation of the civil service code … These sort of delegitimisation tactics are deeply unpleasant at the best of times but we certainly don’t need to pay for the privilege out of [our] own taxes
”. One observer also expressing concern was David Henig.
“How many stories are there today of the UK government wrongly accusing journalists with regards to stories? I think I've seen four, plus the claim [by Matt Hancock] to have protected care homes. This looks like a concerted effort to distort truth to discredit criticism. Worrying
”. He cited Goodall’s and Ms Williams’ cases.
Jon Stone of the Independent
had also seen enough. “Solidarity with [Lewis Goodall] and [Jennifer Williams] who both separately seem to have been subjected to bullying by the government’s PR operation today - increasingly common behaviour that’s funded with public money but works against the public interest
There is more than enough slavish and downright bad journalism being performed in support of the Government right now. If Cummings and his pals cannot tolerate anything that is not propaganda, that is deeply worrying. As well as a misuse of our money
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Very reminiscent of Trump's attacks on journalists for accurately reporting news.
We seem to be still waiting for the Tax-payers Alliance to come down heavily on this clear and blatant waste of tax-payers money. I wonder why?
I see the Polecat not happy with the journalsts being independent and investigate stories instead of the stenography produced by the likes of Kussenberg & Peston on a daily basis.
The lies mount up as the days roll on toward yet another fascist dystopia. A deluded CGI world of public relations Newspeak and malevolent bullshit. Where TV talking heads couldn't do their "job" without being plugged into a controlling earphone or reading words on an autocue. Where "humour" is nothing more than an artificial hysterical shriek at an empty phrase, look or gesture. Where "culture" is represented by a random throw of rusty reinforcing rods or a seedy stained bed pitched together by a drunk or drugged up "artist" - all of it promoted by a silly old man in a blue velvet suit and multi coloured ties and socks.
And Boris fucking Johnson and his gang of tenth rate wannabe gauleiters. Boris fucking Johnson and his Poundshop fascists.
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