Monday, 12 March 2012

StandardWatch: bankers, fares and 'barons'

The last couple of issues have seen the Evening Standard continue its effortless impression of a very detailed Tory Central Office press release, with two new articles on why our Mayor is absolutely brilliant at everything and a few on why his opponent is really, really rubbish.

So, we get treated to a ratings agency and a 'financial commentator' lecturing us on why we aren't entitled to vote for lower transport fares. The 'commentator' in question is actually a merchant banker at the brokers BGC, to whom the Telegraph refers as the "man wheeled out often as the sole voice willing to justify the City's existence" during the financial crisis.

Now, there is something utterly baffling in hearing representatives of the City (hugely to blame for the financial crisis) and spokespeople from ratings agencies (so woeful in predicting the crash) lecturing the public on responsibility.

And, there is something quite galling about hearing the very rich and the even richer telling the public that they should have to pay ever higher public transport costs whilst many of the former wouldn't know what the inside of a bus looks like (we could go into the fact that many of these exact same people presume to lecture bus users on why a perfectly good and large bus should be replaced by a very expensive smaller one in the name of outside aesthetics, but we won't do it here).

Nevertheless, the irony of all of this washes right past Sarah Sands and her fellow true-blue travellers at the Standard, and instead we get a typically anti-Ken headline bellowing out at us. Like all good Standard headlines, this one is no doubt sandwiched between a set of articles fawning over the latest party held by the impossibly posh daughter of some impossibly rich daddy and/or a 'lifestyle' piece highlighting the tribulations of some impossibly posh young couple struggling to find a suitably expensive property in central London.

Hang on, you are probably thinking, just the one article in a few days backing Boris? Of course not - for the Standard has to fill its quota of Ken-baiting articles in the absence of the daily ramblings of Andrew Gilligan. So, onto a glowing piece about Boris, proud defender of the defenceless CEOs of large London-based multinationals, hedge funds and stockbrokers.

In this version of the reality, the Standard bemoans the "union barons" funding Ken's campaign "prompting concerns he could be held to ransom by the Tube unions if re-elected".

Never the mind the fact that the significantly larger sums Boris continues to receive from the City (no 'barons' there, of course) might beg the same question as to the willingness of Mayor Johnson to challenge vested interests in the financial sector.

No, never mind that. That would require a sense of proportion, of balance and a basic understanding of the lives of the millions of Londoners that the Evening Standard claims to represent.

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