Lord Prescott loves to play the political grandee – using Twitter to imply he is setting the running for his colleagues in the Commons. Unfortunately, just like the meat in a cut-price cottage pie, the reality doesn’t necessarily match the hype.
On Saturday night, the Sun’s Dave Wooding retweeted Prezza’s message urging “every member of the Shadow Cabinet” to “think twice before writing for the Sun”, followed by two telling updates on the contents of the latest Sun on Sunday:
Chris Jefferies may have committed the murder of Joanna Yeates – but as one of the fundamental principles of our legal system reminds us, he is innocent until proven guilty. It’s become a tradition in these cases for the media to indulge in heavy handed, nudge-nudge wink-wink implication when reporting the arrest of someone even before any charges have been brought.
Recall the case of the Ipswich Ripper, who murdered five women in 2006. The case is still notorious, but most of us have forgotten about Tom Stephens, the innocent but extremely odd man arrested wrongly for the crime spree. As soon as his name was revealed, numerous outlets started heaping increasingly peculiar implications on him – normally using anonymous comments from neighbours an acquaintances.
The most bizarre of these, which I remember made me laugh out loud at the time, was that he had been “digging in his garden with a small trowel“.
The smear was that if he was digging, he must have been burying something (or someone). In reality, of course, if digging ones garden with a small trowel was a crime then millions would be detained every Sunday afternoon and the panellists of Gardeners’ Question Time are veritable Moriartys.
The same is happening to Chris Jefferies. I am not attempting to go on some crusade to clear his name – for all I know, he may well be guilty. The police may know more that persuades them of this. What is certain is that the media do not, but are engaging in trial-by-tittle-tattle all the same.
Here are a choice selection of some of the reports about Jefferies so far, including some recognisable classics of the genre and some really weird ones:
“Oddball” – Almost all newspapers
“The way he pronounced words and said his sentences was also weird”…”The things he taught us were really odd, he loved old English poetry.” – Small World News Service [NB it's not that odd to like old poetry...when you're an English teacher]
“Campaigned for gun range and prayer books” – Daily Mail
“A loner” – Almost all newspapers
“very posh, a solitary figure and very cultured” – The Sun
“An only child who has never married” – Daily Mail
If you spot any other corkers, put them in the comments and we can build up a full innuendo collection.
The conductor on a train is responsible for passengers’ safety as well as just checking their tickets. He or she has the job of looking out for suspicious behaviour or dubious parcels, and if anything was to kick off then it is the conductor who would try to handle the situation in a way that would protect the passengers.
How would you feel, then, if the conductor of the train you were sitting on was apparently using Facebook to merrily urge bombings against other parts of the public transport system?
In a tie-in between Crash Bang Wallace and The Sun, we’ve today revealed someone who appears to be doing exactly that.
Given the recent riots and shootings in Northern Ireland, I thought it would be worthwhile looking round the various Republican Facebook groups to see what kind of views were being posted. Sure enough, it took about three clicks to get to “People against Loyalist marches where they’re not wanted“.
I’m not suggesting everyone in that group is an extremist – the vast majority hold legitimate views about the Orange Order marches. My expectation was that a few people might be spreading some extreme views – but largely for them to be usual suspects urging more rioting and violence against the police and army. That would be bad enough, but I had not anticipated this:
Nice, eh? So here we have someone claiming to be a train conductor who is apparently wishing for his passengers to be blown up after they make their connection to the ferry.
This is unacceptable. It’s unpleasant that Mark Connor appears to think what happened to Mountbatten (and the 14 year old boy who was blown up in the same attack) was a good thing, but it’s downright disturbing that he apparently wants to see something similar happen to hundreds of innocent civilians. How can he be trusted with the security of these passengers on his train if he wants them dead?
While police officers are putting themselves in the firing line trying to keep order on the streets of Belfast, the last thing they need is someone in a position of responsibility calling for rioting to turn into a terror campaign.
The story is in The Sun today, and ScotRail have confirmed they have suspended and are investigating a member of staff.
Crash Bang Wallace is an opinion blog, but I also intend to dig up and break new stories as regularly as possible. This isn’t just hot air, it’s “Politics with a punch”. It’s good to see the first of those punches land.
PS The original post has been taken down, now, but here’s the full screen grab: