If real people were taxed the same as the rich….

Setting- A supermarket

Security Guard: “Excuse me sir can I have a look in your bag? I suspect you of stealing grapes.”

Average Joe: “How dare you! I deplore stealing. It is immoral and wrong. I am on the record saying how bad it is.”

Security Guard: “Sir, I will ask you one more time. Have you been stealing grapes?”

Average Joe: “No.”

Security Guard: “We have irrefutable evidence that you have stolen grapes.”

Average Joe: “Ok I stole grapes. What happens now?”

Security Guard: “Well I am going to negotiate with you how much of these grapes you are going to give back. Then you can walk free.”

Average Joe: “If you make me pay anything back I will leave this supermarket forever and move to a different one. You don’t want that do you?”

Security Guard: “Fine. Just give us 3 of the grapes back as a nice gesture. That way all the other customers won’t mind that we make them pay full price for all their grapes.”

Average Joe: “Fine here are two grapes, and be grateful.”

Security Guard: “Thank you!”

Average Joe exits stage left

Security Guard (to the rest of shoppers): “Today we have achieved a great victory. We are on the side of hard working shoppers and are all in this together!”

How journalism and PR can co-exist

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As George Orwell once said. “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

This does suggest a level of mutual exclusivity between the two fields.

In his recent speech at the Charles Wheeler lecture the BBC’s economics editor Robert PReston described  PR companies as “the enemy”. It has long been a bone of contention within journalism that PR companies attempt to approve copy, control access to sources, spin everything in sight and protect sources at the expense of the truth.

However, with a Cardiff University study finding that one in five newspaper stories and 17% of broadcast stories been verifiably derived mainly or wholly from PR, it would seem that PR companies have got behind enemy lines.

Despite what Preston would see as a dangerous fifth column, it must be argued if the journalistic craft is anything it’s the ability to pick through sources, ascertain their validity, fact check and find truth?

Well, yes it is. However, with ever decreasing budgets, squeezed deadlines and less than 30 minutes per story, shameless promotion does slip through the net. The US now boasts 4.1 PR specialists for every one reporter (1) and this trend seems only set to increase.

However it doesn’t have to be this way. In the animal kingdom, a relationship between two different species is described as symbiotic and can be defined in three ways; parasitic, communal and mutual.

To give this some context the parasitic relationship is when one party (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) loses.  An example of this is ticks. A tick will feed on the blood of mammals. In exchange it will give the mammal Lyme disease which causes kidney, joint and hearty problems.

The industry equivalent is the PR exec who feeds stories to reporters which are not fact checked and is riddled with inaccuracies. The parasitic PR exec gets its client name in the news and in exchange gives the reporter the journalistic equivalent of Lymes disease, loss of reputation, credibility and retractions to print.

The second definition of a relationship is far more preferable and is described as communal. This is when one species benefits and the other is not harmed. An example is natures is the Remora fish. It attaches itself to sharks, rays and whales and then scavenges left over food they have left. Despite the clear cheek of this benefit scrounger of the sea it has no negative ramifications for its partner.

If we apply this to the journalist/PR relationship we get the PR exec supplying the reporter with verified and supported sources. However, they might be poorly written, missing key details or inapplicable to that reporters brief. This hasn’t negatively impacted the reporter as they would have to written stories themselves anyway but it was hardly a net positive for them and takes time.

The final relationship is mutual. This when both parties benefit from the arrangement. It is based around being stronger together than apart. To see this you need do no more than look out of the window. Bees and plants. The bees needs to gather nectar in order to get it through the winter, and the plant needs to spread its pollen in order to procreate.

PR companies, the blooming flowers, are literally nothing without the journalistic bees to come and spread the word. However the journalistic bees are only going keep returning to the flower if they are receiving top quality pollen in the form well written, valid, fact checked stories.

If PR companies insist on parasitic relationships they are eventually going to kill their journalist hosts. However if a mutual relationship can begin, it could be a vital lifeline to the over stretched journalists.

If you are in PR remember, if you can’t be a flower be a Remora fish. Just never be a tick.

If British politics was Game of Thrones.

Come one, come all, while I tell you the tale of British politics. If you have trouble getting your head around the political system in which you live but can’t get enough of Game of Thrones, here is your comprehensive guide to the history of GBW (Great British Westeross).

The Mad King = Thatcherism

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In the beginning, the Tagaryens (Thatcher) ruled well. They were swept to power and united the nation, bringing all of the kingdoms under one banner. They defeated all their enemies (Trade Unions, Argentina, Miners and the Soviet Union). However over time they gradually lost their minds to ideology and infighting.

Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark = Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

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Out of the north stormed two champions of liberty. Determined to throw off the shackles of Thatcherism and bring in a golden age of liberty, free market socialism and sparkling oratory. Using the network of contacts and spies provided by the eunuch Varys (Campbell) they overthrew the Mad King. However once in power Blair gave himself over to leisurely pursuits like hunting, Catholicism and invading sovereign states without a mandate. When he eventually left power to his Hand of the King, Ned Stark (Gordon Brown), took over despite them having argued much in the later years. He was quickly toppled under the weight of his own stubborn pride and lack of political savvy.

Cersi and Little Finger = David Cameron and George Osbourne

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After toppling the noble but highly incompetent Ned Stark, the ambitious Cersi (Cameron) set about on her vanity project of completely ignoring the plight of the poor and improving the lives of the powerful that had brought her to office. With the assistance of her slimy Master of Coin/ Chancellor of the Exchequer Little finger (George Osbourne) she went about building up a base of power and increasing the wealth of the wealthy. She would converse with undesirable characters like Qyburn (Andy Coulson) and be a generally crap human.

Rob Stark & Jon Snow = Ed Milliband and David Milliband.

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After the toppling of their ideological farther, Rob (Ed) and Jon (David) sought revenge. Both could have led the North to avenge the dishonour of their family/ political party. However while charismatic David should have led the party to glory, the family (Trade Unions) went for his more incompetent brother. Rob/Ed was then defeated at the Red Wedding/ May 2015 election while Jon had to go into political obscurity on the Wall (CEO of the IRC).

Other comparisons include:

Dothraki= Islamic State.

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An eastern hoard with no thought to humanity or womens rights threaten to overwhelm The West as soon as they work out how to cross the sea.

Bran= Nick Clegg.

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Like Bran, Clegg had such promise in his early days. However an accident (joining with the Torys) caused him to lose all ability to move (engage with voters). He continued to search for the three eyed raven (electoral reform) but got increasing boring as his story dragged.

White Walkers= Global warming

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Ultimately everything that happens in the show is completely irrelevant because in time the White Walkers (global warming) will kill us all. Only if all join together to fight it do we have a chance. Not going to happen.

The Wildlings = SNP

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The wild and fiercely independent people beyond the Wall (Hadrians) continue to assert their right to autonomy from the Kings Landing/ Westminster elite. Under their leader Mance Rader (Alex Salmond) they continue to be a thorn in the side of civilised folk.

Katie Hopkins = Hodor.

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Britain First- How to make decent people “like” your scummy little party

For you lucky sods who are not aware of Britain First they are a political party founded by anti-abortion campaigner Jim Dowson after a split with BNP. Their principle aims are for the re-Christianisation of Britain, a return to “British values” and are intensly anti-Islamic.

This delightful group of people now hold the title of most liked political party on Facebook. So how do you convince the largely tolerant British population to take the ultimate step of dedication, to truly nail their colours to the BF mast and click “Like”?

Step 1: Put up posts that it is impossible to disagree with

Take a look at the three pictures below. Makes you blood boil doesn’t it? I hate animal cruelty! I hate the idea of old people having to work to 70! Our troops DO deserve better! Who are the people that are putting up all these great pictures? I feel a real connection to them.

 

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These posts generate a huge number of likes and are often put up multiple times. This means that they crop up on the newsfeeds of everyone who is friends with the original reader. You know, that good person who hates dead animals, over worked Septuagenarians and abandoned troops.  These people then like the Facebook page.

However they then put up posts like this:

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And possibly their finest work

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As you can see these pictures are somewhat more derisive than the first ones that originally drew you in. I would also suggest that it is not something that every person who “liked” the original pictures would like to be associated with.

This is the equivalent of the Nazis putting up a picture saying “No to higher gas prices” (something we can all get on board with). Then once you are drawn in put up something like “because it’s making our chambers really expensive to run”.

Ok that was a little alarmist but I have spent the day reading Britain First tripe so you’ll have to forgive me.

 

Step 2: Associate yourself with credible people, image and organisations

BF has mastered the art of subtly associating themselves with people that have nothing to do with them. Not only do they have nothing to do with them but they also would be disgusted at the idea of that association.

Here are a few examples:

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Each of these pictures speaks to something the public as a whole likes or care about. This adds a veneer of legitimacy that leads to good people into liking their scummy page.

The four subjects of these pictures do not want to associate with Britain First.

Despite repeated requests by Lee Rigby’s mother to stop using her sons image they continue to use him in their recruitment and propaganda campaigns.

I am sure Mr Churchill, or should I say Sir Winston would be delighted that his legacy of holding back the tide of fascism would be used on their page.

It is almost certain that having his quote used in Neo-fascist propaganda was all part of Rowan Atkinson’s cunning plan.

Don’t even get me fucking started on the use of poppies on their promotional items.

 

Step 3: Post, post and post some more!

Traffic! BF posts on average 22 times a day (that’s right I used the Mirror as a source). Compare this to Tories who post 11 times a week and the Lib Dems who mange 1 a day. This constant bombardment is a “like” generating machine. It also gives an impression of constant relevance that allows BF to keep a constantly high profile.

To s(c)um up

The most annoying thing is that groups like this stop mature debates taking place. Religion’s role in society, community integration and unemployment are all issues that need to be addressed but spreading tripe like this just prevents the issues been discussed and hurts the people they claim to “defend”.