Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Independent: It Isn't

The Spectator Coffee House blog reveals a disgraceful tale of connivance with the government by The Independent. Here's an extract from Neil O'Brien's story...
With wearying predictability The Independent splashes today on “10 Myths about
the EU Treaty” - and prints a rebuttal of those eurosceptic “myths” on page three. They looked curiously familiar to me. And then I figured out why. The piece is an almost word-for-word reprint of a Foreign Office briefing note – but without any attribution that that is the source. Have a look at this thing, circulated by the FCO which Open Europe obtained a copy of. And then read the Indie piece. They are almost exactly the same. (Rather like the relationship between the “new” treaty and the re rejected constitution, you might say…) When we called for comment on this, the editor was not available for comment.
The Independent is no longer a serious newspaper. It's not even a "Viewspaper". It's a comic. It's become the broadsheet equivalent of the Daily Express, and I can think of nothing more insulting to say about it than that.


Anonymous said...

Iain, where do you get this anti-eu rage from? I find it a really bizarre trait in some people...

Iain Dale said...

I don't know why you think I am in a rage. I am merely pointing out something that if I did it, it would get Tim Ireland foaming at the mouth again. Not difficult, I know.

The signing of this treaty with no referenmdum, as promised by Labour, is nothing short of a disgrace. It's got nothing to do with being anti EU. Plenty of Europhiles feel exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing the headline on their website this morning and thinking 'that is a bit random' - now I know why! Talk about stooping low, I wonder which contact No.10 used to get it published.

Anonymous said...

Why do you say "myths" in inverted commas? Don't you accept that there are widespread myths about the EU Treaty and the EU in general?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

A great piece of digging.

I knew journalists were a lazy bunch, but plagiarising the official handout... what shower the Indie must be (not that I have ever read it or bought a copy) The Indie version is virtually word for word. It has been cut and pasted.

What a load of old tits disguised as a Newspaper.

Honesty and integrity are having a bad time at the moment. What a funny world it is when Anal Botney (that's Alan Yentob to you) fakes being in a documentary made by somebody else, when millions of pounds are made in fake competitions and when prime ministers lie about the EU treaty.

I share Iains disgust at the way we have been treated over a manifesto commitment. All the ministers are lying conniving gits over this and they know it and we know it and they know we know they know it.

Send in a Rottweiler.

fairdealphil said...

So, the Indy looks at the evidence and concludes that Gordon Brown is right after all...

...And that the Euro-sceptic Tories are wrong.

So what does the Cameron school of spin say when a newspaper dares to back Labour...?

Rubbish the messenger by calling it a comic of course...

Sad or what?

Bob Piper said...

I agree the Independent is a comic, it has done nothing but slag Labour off for the last two years and twitter on about Cameron and the environment. I also agree about the referendum, except I am consistent. I argued for a referendum when Thatcher blatantly ignored the people when she signed the far more significant transfer of sovereignty in the SEA and Major when he sold the British people down the river over the yet more important still Maastricht Treaty. I hope you were equally vocal Iain when these disgraceful sell-outs took place.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this reminds me of those press releases from Tory central office that you reproduce verbatim without engaging your critical faculties. Motes and beams, old chap.

Ed Keohane said...

There was a rumour that some of the editorial staff were salaried professional journalists, but it turned out that it was started by a couple of workies trying to talk up their jobs...

Anonymous said...

anti-eu rage? nah ... some of us just believe in democracy.

Newmania said...

Iain you are so right. I am a news addict and read a wide selection . The only paper , I had thought, with no merit at all is the Lady Di Times, AKA the Express. The Independent has now joined that elite club
Not only today’s Euro rubbish but yesterday’s front page was a new low .On the EU, the pungent aroma of panic from the Federalists is almost overpowering . What they realise is that the whole debate will open up just how far down the road to non existence we already are . Anyway I was incensed by the Independents front page yesterday “ Black People Are Stupid “ says “ A Scientist” ( with a book out )

Comment on Raedwald ( following a long consideration of the real science and its implications of lack of them )

“ ………………………………You have to remember that many black people do indeed wonder if there is something wrong with them . We see this in hairstyles and the wish to acquire Ancient Egypt retrospectively from it Indian looking people ( still present as Coptic Christians). I wonder how many black children saw that headline and felt worthless.. and uncertain , they will not all be able to argue back.

I have always despised the Independent. They have not let me down.”

This Paper deserves nothing but contempt. Well done indeed Iain for nailing them on the EU blurb.

PS A litle off topic I know soz

Anonymous said...

Years ago I drafted a press release which was duly used as a source of information by Fleet Street (that gives its age).I remember that some idle b...... at the Sunday Express reproduced it verbatim under his own byline.These things have always happened and always will.

Anonymous said...

I quite like the Express :-S

Yak40 said...

Maybe Guy Fawkes has descendants in Lisbon :)

Anonymous said...

Thats why it only has a circulation of 230000, down from a peak of around 500000ish 15 - 20 years ago. Also, many simply buy it for its frontpage.

"It's become the broadsheet equivalent of the Daily Express"

Don't you mean the DI'ly Express Iain?

Although at the rate its going, it will be the Madeline Express for the next 5 years.

I can't believe that newspaper still has a readership of 800000 people (or unintelligent simpletons)...

... although I'm sure a few of us out there buy it for a bit of light reading, especially the comical Diana stories involving secret agents and that fuggin Duke :-)

Anonymous said...

"It's become the broadsheet equivalent of the Daily Express."

It is the left-wing equivalent of the Daily Telegraph, and I can think of nothing more insulting to say about it than that.

Anonymous said...

Gordon(and his syncophants in the presss) keep going on about the Tories never offering a referendum in 1992 over Maastricht. True. But the difference is that they didn't promise a referendum as Labour did in their 2005 Manifesto. This so called "amending" treaty is 96% the old constitution. Gordon's much vaunted "red lines";opt outs;opt ins; handbrakes; protocols and whatever that he was blathering on about at his press conference are absolutely worthless.

The refusal by Labour to keep their promise to hold a referendum is a betrayal of trust

Anonymous said...

"It's become the broadsheet equivalent of the Daily Express."

I bet you'd expect someone to say that's insulting to the Express. Wll, there said it.

The Indy is the most sanctimonious drivel. Each day we are given our "lesson" or 'finger wagging' on the front page and then all you are confronted with inside is a load of comment (Johan HArri springs to mind) with very little news.

The Express - to be honest at least bothers to print news - albeit a lot of Diana news!

Me vs Maradona vs Elvis said...

You're absolutely right Iain - the Independent can no longer be taken seriously as a newspaper - though personally I'd see the Mirror as a bigger joke than the Express!

Unknown said...

In a bit of a rush so will leave you with this:

Slap 'Independent' in his search field and follow the stories (sorry no time to be more exact).

Arthur, an ex Independent science chappy who now edits Guardian Tech section, has been following the Incredible Shrinking Staff at the Indy with an insider's perspective. Given the background it is no surprise that they get found out on occasion.

Meanwhile this boy writes as a one-time Independent reader (and newspaper junkie) with nowhere else to go to embalm his prejudices.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Iain, and well done for nailing this. I read the piece myself this morning while taking a break from the toil of giving legal advice, and couldn't believe what I was reading. I wasn't surprised there was no byline, given that it was for the most part misleading or addressing straw men.

There are many, many myths about this treaty - deliberately peddled by both sides of the argument. The public debate just makes your heart sink.

As a (fairly) strictly legal comment blogger I don't really have a view on whether there should be a referendum; I thought the Constitution seemed more radical than it actually it was - which was the whole political folly of the thing - and I wasn't sure a referendum was really needed.

But I certainly do have a view on whether the two treaties are the same. The select committee is quite right to say they're "substantially equivalent", though they seem (unsurprisingly given the impenetrability of it) to have misunderstood some of the detail of it. They could have been a bit bolder about saying it's equivalent for the UK too, because it certainly is.

Anonymous said...

How dare you compare the independent to a comic!

I am sure the editors of 2000AD will be sending Judge Dredd along to judge you for slur against the comics industry.

20 years in the cubes!

Liam Murray said...

The Indy's front page today finally drove me to enter the fray (and not on the same side as them I might add)

Newmania said...

The argument about Maastricht is irrelevant . Whatever might have been plotted by the elite most people voted to enter a Common Market , a customs union . We did it at a time of weakness and when the nebulous wish to see a peaceful Europe still had some residual currency.

The true nature of the organisation has only gradually become apparent . At the same time the global economy now dwarfs the EU which is a small protectionist enclave . War in Europe is not a treat and it was anyway guaranteed by the US .
Militarily the EU is useless and will never command the loyalty not to be . The argument seems top be that an incremental change it is no worse than others before but you have to look at the totality of the changing relationship s between this country and this club.

The British do not wish to be ruled by foreigners , they are now . Neither do they wish to have any formal say over the lives of Poles and Germans . A bilateral option is , of course , available for the 3rd largest trading nation on earth and there is no reason whatsoever for £5000 pa for every household to be wasted on David Milliband Nick Clegg and the rest of the slimy elite swimming in payola chatting about the environment. If democracy has any meaning this must be referred to the people .

In effect the ruling class of this country want to sign away the birthright of every Britain stealthily spending ever more of our money on persuading us to hate out own country as the “Progressives “ do
Gordon brown is lying and if he goes on lying he will never be believed again.
Can anyone explain to me by the way what is Liberal about being ruled by unselected Commissioners and what is modern about a white fortress protectionist throwback ? The modern way is the third way as advocated by Ruth Lea

We have had 15 years of growth and yet most people have less to show for it than ten years ago . This is because of taxes , immigration , the swollen public sector and the Dane geld paid to the EU and its legions of parasites . The English are failing by a wide measure to reproduce themselves , not surprising when noone can afford a house and everyone has to work seven days a week for browns “economic miracle “…ha ha . We are literally being cheated into extinction and the pent up rage brown fears will bust upon him soon. Perhaps when he signs , that Constitution of New Federal Europe.
IHT has shown that there are dangerous unknown currents in the population , dangerous for a pipsqeak cowardly bully like half wit brown anyway.

Anonymous said...

That's insulting to comics, Iain; a far more legitimate artform than the Dependent and the Madiana Express.

Alex said...

Brown is to raise the Madeleine McCann case with the Poirtuguese PM. Sounds like he must have sold us short on the EU treaty and is looking for another headline tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

"Speak for England, Arthur" said...

The refusal by Labour to keep their promise to hold a referendum is a betrayal of trust

Cameron should just keep banging on it at PMQs (it was the strongest part this Wednesday) e.g.

"You've broken your promise on a referendum and backed off from an election. What right did you have, on behalf of the people of Britain, to sign that treaty?"

Anonymous said...

The only legitimate thing Brown could do would be to call an election, which specifically states in its manifesto that a referendum on the treaty will not happen if he is re-elected.

OK, so this is almost the referendum that we feel cheated of, but at least it would be our real chance of a change from this corrupt government.

Anonymous said...

Brown and Milliebandwagon insist that the infamous red lines are set in stone and will protect Britain's interests.

I don't know whether what they say is correct or not.Past history in the europead courts says not.

I do know that NuLab are habitual deceivers, so I have my suspicions as to the integrity of those red lines.

One thing would convince me of the red line integrity and that would be if each and every one of the members of the cabinet, together with their immediate families,accepted joint and several financial liability for each and every breach of the red line defence.

So come on Gordon Milliebandwagon, put your money where your mouth is

Tapestry said...

At least the Express writes its own bollocks. The Indie gets bollocks written by civil servants, and combines arse licking with bollocks.

Quite appropriate when you think about it. But not worth paying any money for, surely. Does the Indie actually have any customers? If it does, it must change its name, maybe 's'licker for short.

The Express has found that it can sell papers revealing what is well known about Diana, but is continually covered up.

It must have been a cooperative effort by British and French secret services. I see her murder as an anti-monarchist effort, by two EU partners worried that their own efforts at creating respected statehood were falling short.

They deny the murder, and at the same time allow the rumours to besmirch Charles and Philip. Express that!

Anonymous said...

Alan Ehrenhalt suggests that some hypocrites are much better than others. Where he is right to decry the present scathing scrutiny of public figures, he complicates his point by making a provocative defense of their hypocrisy itself.

Still, I'll take a single quiet example of inner struggle over a hundred outspoken moral crusaders any day, even if each of those hundred unwaveringly walked the talk. Maybe we'd be better off if our would-be leaders devoted themselves far more to the awesome challenge of working on themselves and far less to vocal calls for righteousness and purity.

Anonymous said...

Iain, with character names like "Wrinkled Weasael", "Desperate Dan" and fictional characters like "Verity", aren't you risking the application of the old pot and kettle rejoinder?

Anonymous said...

Teejay, you don't understand, there are four red lines!

Anonymous said...

the constitution would have created an entirely new legal order for the EU, sweeping away earlier treaties, whereas the Reform Treaty merely amends them

In addition, some countries have negotiated new opt-outs, which they did not have from the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Be modest. Don't vote about the EU at It would just disturb the European nation-building.

David Lindsay said...

Newmania, I don't see how the first clause of the legislation could be regarded as an elite plot. If people voted without even having read that far, then more fool them.

Anyway, to business. The Independent should do one of its often quite good front pages on neglected corners of the world, specifically on the number of MEPs and members of the Council of Ministers (including the fact that that Council meets in secret and publishes no Official Report) who are Stalinists, Trotskyists, neo-Fascists, neo-Nazis, members of Eastern Europe's kleptomaniac nomenklatura, or supporters of the theory that the the Provisional Army Council of the IRA is the sovereign body throughout Ireland.

The rise of neoconservatism in those fora (headed by the erstwhile Maoist - yes, Maoist!- who went on to be the ardently "free"-marketeering and pro-Bush Prime Minister of Portugal before being wafted into the the Presidency of the European Commission), and of its redoutable Islamist ally (now there's a whole series in itself) in the Turkish Caliphate, could also do with an airing, taking in the strong Eurofederalism, under overall American control, of the British neocons organised in and as the Henry Jackson Society (Gove, Vaizey, Boles, et al).

It has always baffled me that support for the cession of power to these people, and for the sorts of electoral system that throw them up, are presented as centrist causes. They could not be further from such.

So, over to the Independent?

Anonymous said...

David Lindsay -
Good piece, I'll try not to be glib. The current debate is about whether the Reform Treaty is the same as or different from the former Constitutional Treaty.

The most convincing argument in favour of a referendum is that the opt-outs (red lines) will be eroded over time, without us being able to ink them in again.

In my view, this future argument will be like the argument over whether a sixpenny piece can be confused with a 5p piece. It was relevant once, but not now.

Anti-federalists want a referendum because they object to the federal idea, so why on earth are they not campaigning for one that addresses that? And where were they when previous treaties were agreed.

A failure to agree to this treaty won't get rid of the federal idea - there's always the chance that a more radical agreement would replace it at some point.

On your main objection to loonies holding office, I agree, but I wouldn't kick people out of the tent because they blow out smelly fumes, for fear that they will only stand outside it lob noxious things in.

Chris Paul said...

Either utter laziness from the Independent or simply a missed attribution perpetrated by some tired sub editor? It happens. Iain Dale regularly omits attributions to his sources!

The Indie is largely crap but it can hardly be considered to be a government supporting paper now can it? Conspiracy therefore utterly unlikely.

Constant whining, miserabalism and opportunism albeit sometimes well written and sourced. But mostly not. It's a comic. But the Daily Express or the tabloid market may not be the nearest equivalent.

Who in the blogsosphere would be the nearest? Disproportionate possibly (let's hope) feigned rage? Moderate to poor fact checking and numeracy? Lack of attribution of sources?

David Lindsay said...

Plagiarist, Gordon Brown has been derelict in his responsibilities by signing the EU Constitreaty. However, what is now needed is not a referendum on that document.

Such a referendum would deliver a Yes vote. In 1975, the federalists managed to convince two thirds of the electorate that they were merely voting for "a free trade area" called "the Common Market", even though the first clause of the European Communities Act was, and is, a textbook definition of a federal state.

That was achieved by persistently putting up Tony Benn and Enoch Powell to state the case for a No vote. Most people voted instead for the position espoused by politicians with whom they felt more comfortable.

The same thing would happen again. Powell's place would be filled by that nasty fringe which holds his economic views untempered by his romantic Toryism. Such would be the sole No campaigners on at least two out of every three, and quite possibly three out of every four, programmes. The rest of the time, Benn would be back.

Even fewer people would identify with Benn now than in 1975. And do even tribal Tories, never mind anybody else, believe in unrestricted immigration to feed unbridled capitalism? Or in the total deregulation of alcohol, gambling and pornography? Or in the legalisation of drugs and prostitution? Or in the wholesale privatisation of health, education and pensions? Or in the abolition of farm subsidies?

"Well, then," the federalists would say, "what makes you think that you agree with these people about this, and this alone? Their position is coherent. It all fits together. And your views don't fit into it at all. Vote Yes, if only because they want you to Vote No." And people would.

Instead, Parliament should do its duty by throwing out the Constitreaty without any need for a referendum. Not least, the unions should be refusing to fund any MP who did not vote in Parliament both against the Constitreaty and in favour of securing workers' rights (among other things) through the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and should instead be undertaking to fund alternative parliamentary candidates who will do both of those things.

For we do not need the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. We need a proper party dedicated to securing workers' rights (among other things) through the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

And now, we have just such a party. See my blog.

Anonymous said...

They say, if you look across the newsrooms at the BBC, the only newspapers you ever see are the Guardian and the Independent.

Newmania said...

Blimey David every time I read your stuff it starts off promisingly and then veers off into your fantasy world .You should have health warnings .

The most convincing argument in favour of a referendum is that the opt-outs (red lines) will be eroded over time, without us being able to ink them in again.

No , the red lines were in, as much as they are there ,at the tme the referendum was promised. No change here. Another colossal misrepresentation