Another day, another dreadful headline from a Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror. Ed.) title.
Today’s comes courtesy of Wales Online and features 2 regular features: firstly the desire the pack the entire story into the headline (instead of that anachronistic practice of giving the odd hint about it. Ed.); and secondly ambiguity.
In my first job after graduating, part of the introduction to the company’s house style involved avoiding ambiguity at all costs.
This is evidently no longer the case in large swathes of the local press, especially where the titles are owned by the two big players: the aforementioned Reach plc and Newsquest Media Group Ltd.
Following the resignation as a backbench MP of the disgraced former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, a by-election has been called for the North Shropshire constituency (where your ‘umble scribe was born and raised. Ed.), the Tory virtual one party state which has returned a Tory member in every poll bar one* since implementation of the so-called “Great” Reform Act of 1832.
Paterson decided to resign and leave what he called the “cruel world of politics” (if you want to see how cruel the world of politics is, Paterson’s voting record is online. Ed.) after public outcry following a botched attempt by part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to save his pal from 30 days’ suspension from the Commons for what the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards termed an “egregious case of paid advocacy“.
Given its history, the contest should be a shoe-in for the Blue Team, given that the disgraced former member had a majority just short of 23,000 and that the large number of candidates standing will inevitably split the anti-Conservative vote.
Campaigning has already begun, with prominent and less prominent occupiers of those green leather benches in Westminster turning out to support their chosen candidate, in this case that Brummie barrister.
At which point step forward the honourable Mr Edmund Frances Hughes, who owes his position to the gullibility of voters in the constituency of Walsall North.
Except for the fact that Eddie did not so much step forward as trip over his own two feet and end up flat on his face on social media with one tweet.
Yesterday afternoon in a tweet featuring not only the Brummie barrister, but also Oliver Dowden MP, the former Secretary of State for Culture Wars, Eddie wrote:
Very positive day campaigning in Wem for the North Staffs. by-election.
Dr. Neil Shastri-Hurst would be an excellent MP, and already has a proven track record of public service.
Yes, you did read that tweet correctly. Eddie has moved Wem from the rural acres of north Shropshire to somewhere in the vicinity of the Potteries conurbation, which might have some effect on voters as regards the competence of the Blue Team.
However, it is not just the Conservatives’ drafted-in support that seems to be having problems knowing exactly where above the centre it is. That affliction also extended to their candidate himself, Mr Neil Shastri-Hurst, if a tweet by Harry Taylor is to be believed. Harry writes:
Just read that a voter in Wem was shocked that the Tory candidate thought he was actually in Oswestry (20 miles away!). This coming after Eddie Hughes MP thought he was in North Staffs – a constituency abolished in 1885 – is sending quite a message to voters.
After all, if members of the governing party don’t even know what county or town they are in, how can they possibly be expected to cope with far more difficult stuff, like the complicated legal text of draft legislation?
*=In the first election held in the new constituency in 1832, North Shropshire was a two-member seat, returning one Tory and one Whig MP. After becoming a single member seat, the only time a non-Tory was elected was in 1904, when it was a Liberal Party seat for a mere two years.
Bristol Post/Live, the city’s warped newspaper of record, seems to regard accuracy as minor matter coming well down the list of priorities topped by enticing readers to embrace clickbait and serving up advertising.
There are times when the quality of copy that is turned out contain such basic errors that one would only expect them from a child moving from primary to secondary school, of which today’s online edition displays a fine example as per the following screenshot.
The comments below the piece really highlight how the title’s more perceptive readers regard its ability to reach any standard exceeding low.
That decision made by Post owners Reach plc some years ago to dispense with sub-editors – those whose specific job it was to check copy for accurate grammar, spelling, tone and content before publication – is continuing to pay reduced quality dividends, isn’t it?