Who’s pulling the wool over our eyes?

For a while today the most read story on The Guardian website was a piece implying that the government had suggested that in the wake of the recent energy price rises people should put on a jumper to keep the bills down. The story originated with the Secretary of State for energy and climate change, Ed Davey, who it was reported said he wore a jumper at home to keep the bills down.  The Guardian reported that that Prime Minister’s spokesman, perhaps aware of the potential damage such suggestions might cause, refused to be drawn on the issue. However, in The Daily Telegraph, a much more forthright report appeared under the byline, ‘David Cameron believes that millions of people facing rising energy bills should consider “wrapping up warm” and wearing jumpers’. This time, referring to the same press briefing, it was claimed the PM’s spokesman had indeed suggested people should pull on a jumper to save money. So far, nothing unusual. The story fits with a common narrative about an out of touch government insensitive to the difficulties of the poor, and the fact that the same story appeared in newspapers representing opposite sides of the political spectrum suggested it must be true. However, this report by the BBC’s political correspondent Chris Mason, presents a quite different account of the same story…

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1 Response to Who’s pulling the wool over our eyes?

  1. Richard Jones says:

    Having heard the report on the Radio Four programme PM, I was dismayed to see a picture online later in the day of a Labour poster using this non-incident for political gain. (https://twitter.com/DanHannanMEP/status/391429438216228864/photo/1)

    It is in my opinion self defeating to use such blatantly misleading propaganda, but then, reading down the comments I began to have doubts about the authenticity of the picture as well. It does look a little like it has been photo-shopped, and there is indeed no Labour logo.

    Later that night, Gavin Esler on Newsnight asked the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon to comment on the “bit of a debate” that had been taking place in West Minster on “whether you should just put on a woolly jumper to keep warm”. Prefacing her comments with “what a government spokesman may or may not have said…if it’s true” (I suspect knowing for certain that it wasn’t), she informed us that it just shows how “the government is out of touch”.

    Do we have too much news? Aside from the political game playing, is this incident a symptom of the never ending 24/7 demand for news stories. Some days nothing much happens, but the relentless demand for news never stops. In the end they just start reporting stuff they have made up. I know there is nothing new in this but with rolling news and every journalist and political activist under the sun tweeting opinions online, trying to establish a twitter trend, are we in danger of loosing the truth beneath an avalanche of misinformation.

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