Echo Polishes Bob’s Image By Re-Writing Hansard

Bandwagon Bob

Bandwagon Bob

BANDWAGON BOB, our local MP, was busy chasing his Parliamentary statistics again on Monday. On his first day back, Bob managed 25 Parliamentary written answers and, to no doubt take his mind off Legg’s impending letter, he managed four questions as well. Two were used in making a contribution to the debate on tobacco purchase on behalf of children and one was used to present a petition from residents regarding Barratt’s proposal for 150 homes in the Chase in Benfleet.

Interested readers can follow the links; but there were no interesting answers to report.

Bob’s other question was reported today by the Echo, in a piece announcing a public meeting, called by Spink, to discuss residents’ concerns about the operation of the Continuum Group’s new school in the former Leigh Beck Doctors’ Surgery. But the story is not in the meeting (to be held in the Paddocks on Thursday, 22nd October at 7.30pm) it is in the way the Echo has re-written Spink’s Parliamentary question to remove his reference to ‘nasty kids’ and lay some of the blame on ‘taxis.’

Here is what Spink actually said, along with the reply from Ed Balls (Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families):-

Bob Spink: ‘What can we do to ensure that special schools that are opened for the most difficult and sometimes rather nasty kids in society are opened in proper and suitable locations, not unsuitable locations, and that, for instance, the kids from throughout Essex who are taken to the school that Essex county council has just opened on Canvey Island, go to the school, not to the town centre, where they are causing mayhem?’

Ed Balls: ‘I was with the Schools Minister at Huntercombe young offenders institution only last week, and that visit convinced me that we need to do more to intervene early to ensure that children with learning difficulties or young people with behavioural problems get the extra support that they need. That is integral to the way in which we plan our secondary school provision and take forward Building Schools for the Future, and our behaviour partnerships will ensure that such provision is at the centre of people’s thinking, rather than on the periphery or excluded, as it sometimes has been.’

Bob Spink makes perfectly clear what he thinks of the youths involved, and he makes no mention of ‘taxis;’ only the Echo report associates them with the apparent problem. Moreover, Ed Balls does not actually answer Bob’s question, and Spink does not press the matter any further. The Echo‘s headline, MP quizzes minister over location of special school, is therefore somewhat misleading.

Residents could be forgiven for thinking that the Echo is not a newspaper; but that it is just another part of Bandwagon Bob’s image-making machine.

… (Echo, 23/10/2009) – Residents demand problem school moved from Canvey

3 Responses

  1. Its those editorial tweaks that make all the difference isn’t it?

    Or was it a case of just printing Spink’s press release and not bothering to check Hansard?

    Don’t they know that what he says can’t be trusted?

    • It infuriates me when a reporter carefully encloses a statement in quotation marks – and then you find out later that, what you had been led to believe was gospel, was not fact at all.

      It is legitimate journalism to paraphrase if your shorthand cannot keep up; but on no account should quotation marks be used unless the writer is sure he/she is quoting word-for-word. (And it isn’t difficult to check Hansard).

      This is the fourth time I’ve had occasion to question Echo reports on this blog – and, on each occasion, Spink has been somehow involved.

      It is now becoming a little monotonous.

  2. You can rest assured it wasn’t a mistake by the Echo.

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