The incident referred to by Brian Otridge in the article “The Mainstream Media Isn’t Learning” today 23rd Dec, where Emma Barnett of the Daily Telegraph apparently encountered a drunk on the Tube, is oddly reminiscent of this article by Owen Jones on Nov 20th in the Guardian. Both witness an altercation on public transport in which they relate that the antagonist was acting offensively, and therefore jump to the socialist conclusion that he is somehow spouting UKIP policy.

Barnett’s account has a surreal quality to it claiming:

“…not to be fussed when this halfwit threw his hot chocolate at me (thankfully he missed and hit my feet) – although that did leave me a little shaken…”.

I have sometimes encountered the vocal inebriate in the street or on transport, but they are usually fondly clutching a can of super strength discount pack lager. In Emma’s case though, the miscreant’s thought processes were obviously different from the ones in my own encounters with street drunks.

Imagine the scene. A highly disaffected, down, world-hating man gets tanked up with booze, then goes out to find a victim to vent his bile on, preferably one who cannot escape from his gaseous ranting. All that he has left as a release from his inner torment is screaming his rage at the injustices of life.

But first, before the world is going to be put to rights, he is jolly well going to have a nice hot cup of cocoa. Perhaps, even, with one of those sprinkled powder Christmas trees on top of that lovely creamy foam.

He knew full well that this was a massive act of defiance. Eating and drinking were not allowed on the Tube, but he was the one to show them. Cocoa would heal the dark night of the soul in this cruel existence. One by one, sip by sip, a numberless series of chocolaty bye-law infringements would salve his angst.

Along with this drinking chocolate fuelled allusion, there are many outright absurdities with Barnett’s article. Including some attempts at literary detail where she adds, “…someone shouted out: ‘This is the Farage effect’ from the other end of the carriage…” and ends with the penny-dreadful cliché, “…My temples throbbed as I felt unable to suppress the urge to silence him…”. All of this might have been met with that seasonally induced yawn, when the newspapers run out of material and are staffed by holiday part-timers anxious for their chance to get noticed. However, the second half of the article has a prominent UKIP banner and a picture of Rozanne Duncan. Presumably the preceding wild assertions that the drunk on the train must be UKIP is thereby somehow going to be proven in the mind of the reader, by association.

The UKIP-trashing Guardian article from Owen Jones is normal for them over the two decades of UKIP’s life, but the Emma Barnett article in the Telegraph represents a disturbing trend over the last few years. I used to have the DT delivered daily, but ceased some while back, owing to the creeping poor quality of its journalism. The DT circulation, along with other newspapers, has fallen. The solution seems obvious to me, that is to engage journalists who have some credibility, and whose articles do not damage the reputation of the journal. Perhaps it is because they have not learnt the lesson of the EU elections, where every smear attempt ended up with the public realising all the more that UKIP’s opponents have got in fact no valid case. As the number of such attempts increased it was seemingly matched by a parallel UKIP rise in the polls. The media also seem to misunderstand the Web. For them, getting thousands of replies in an obvious click-bait piece is the end in itself. The reality is that the public see an atrociously written and cheap shot at a new party which is setting the kind of open political agenda that the public actually want, and is thankfully free from the outmoded politically correct baggage of LibLabCon.

 

Photo by toastforbrekkie

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