‘They have given me somebody else’s voice – Blair’s voice’

When Tuesday’s Sun featured one of the iconic images from 7/7 alongside the headline ‘Tell Tony He’s Right’, the implication was clear: the victim backed the PM’s tough anti-terror measures. There was just one problem: John Tulloch doesn’t. In fact, he tells Ros Coward he is angrier with the politicians than the bombers

On Tuesday, the Sun’s front page evoked memories of the July 7 London bombings in a shocking way. A huge picture of a blood-soaked victim dominated the page. Under the banner “Terror laws” was a large picture of the victim with the words: “Tell Tony He’s Right.” The implication was clear: this victim had spoken to the Sun and was calling on the public to back Blair’s tough terror bill, defeated in the Commons last night. The Sun’s strong and emotive front page was mentioned several times on other media including BBC Radio 4′s Today programme and the World at One. It was widely recognised as a key element in sending a message to Labour waverers that those whose opinion on the bombings is unimpeachable – the victims – were strongly in favour of the government’s hardline stance.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/nov/10/media.media

Sperm does not a father make

David Blunkett should remember that social fatherhood, rather than a biological link, is crucial for a child

David Blunkett’s affair should stand as a warning. Not just against adulterous affairs. Not even against going to Spectator parties. Mainly it should warn against giving far too much importance to the rights of “biological” fathers. There is no better antidote to the contemporary myth – so beloved by Fathers4Justice – that biological parents should always have contact with their child than seeing the havoc such claims can cause.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/dec/07/uk.comment

Phoney populism

Don’t pander to the ordinary bloke’s addiction to cars

Are cars the new beer and fags? I ask because while this government is bold when criticising the old comforts of smoking and drinking, it shies away from challenging an addiction that impacts more directly on the quality of our daily lives: the ordinary bloke’s addiction to cars, to driving and even to driving dangerously.

This may seem harsh. Among many promises for a safer world made in the Queen’s speech, was one for improved road safety. The new bill, we are told, will toughen up laws on dangerous driving. It includes a measure which will do the opposite, introducing graduated fines for speeding. This will not mean increasing the number of penalty points as the speeding gets greater, but reduce penalty points for breaking speed limits by smaller amounts.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/nov/25/queensspeech2004.uk

Adding new insult to old injury

Whose side is the children’s minister on – the abuser or the abused?

Two very different events have brought sexual abuse into focus this week: the report of the suicide in custody of a sex abuse victim, Joseph Scholes; and the extraordinary letter in which Margaret Hodge described another victim, Demetrious Panton, as “an extremely disturbed person”.

Joseph’s tragic death is a vivid illustration of just why we need a minister attending to issues of protecting vulnerable children – a position which was created in June, and to which Margaret Hodge was promptly appointed.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/nov/13/society.publicservices

Put them on hold

Deregulating directory inquiries is a dogmatic exercise in privatisation – with no benefits to the consumer

This week we taste the fruits of the government’s latest contribution to improving our quality of life: opening up directory services to competition. Government-speak calls this “market improvement” intended to make life better for “consumers”. The reality is that it’s a pointless privatisation. A simple act has become a complicated issue of consumer choice increasing the frustrations of daily life.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/aug/27/uk.bt

Put the planet on a war footing

This is the time for environmentalists to challenge the actions of our leaders and press their demands

I sat in the summer sun a few months ago with Blake Lee Harwood from Greenpeace, idly discussing whether Bush had inadvertently done environmentalists a favour. Kyboshing the Kyoto accord meant people who had never heard of climate change were suddenly discussing carbon trading and greenhouse gases.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/23/afghanistan.politics

It had no place on TV

Sometimes I am ashamed to be “a leftie” and the response to the Brass Eye programme is one such occasion. There’s a consensus building in this quarter that the programme was a valid, nay brilliant, satire “about the media hysteria surrounding paedophilia”.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/jul/31/childrensservices.comment1

‘Our roads? Don’t make me laugh’

Globe-trotting Michael Palin has been from Pole to Pole and Around the World in 80 Days, taking the worst that third-world transport can throw at him. So why does travelling in Britain make him quail, asks Ros Coward

Michael Palin is back home during a brief pause in filming his latest journey. He’s been in the Sahara and loved it. “I’m visiting countries I didn’t know existed. The cultures are fascinating and I’ve met great characters.” And, of course, for the man who has become the nation’s best-loved intrepid traveller, he especially enjoys the journeys. “I made one amazing train journey to Dakkar. The train was 10 hours late, it took forever but it was incredible. I met up with a fantastic woman and discussed Muslim attitudes to sex.”

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/14/greenpolitics.transport

Passion politics

In the mass of commentary surrounding the election, no one is talking about emotions. This is pretty incredible, considering how big a factor they are in politics. For most of the electorate the exact policy differences between parties is only part of more nebulous issues like confidence, betrayal, contempt and especially trust.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/05/election2001.politicalcolumnists3

Males and motors

If more people drove like a woman fewer children would be dying in road accidents

After four years trying to get “joined-up government”, there’s still a long way to go, if the new child road safety initiative is anything to go by. Laudable in itself, it fails to link up with the wider issues of quality of life and health.

This latest initiative offers local councils £10m for child pedestrian training projects. Most will go to deprived areas with high numbers of ethnic minorities where new research shows that child death rates are appreciably higher. The new initiative includes pamphlets in relevant languages but mainly focuses on training schemes to integrate road safety lessons into “personal social and health education”.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/may/09/comment.roscoward