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Thursday, November 10, 2005 

Sun-watch: Predictable traitors.

Here's today's front-page banner-boost splash:

That the Sun call representatives of the people traitors is pretty low, especially considering if MPs did exactly what a majority of public opinion supports, we'd probably withdraw from Europe and bring back hanging tomorrow. Still, nothing like being honourable in defeat. Instead of accepting that is something that was unacceptable to parliament, it's quite easy to be a bad loser instead. Inside the Sun prints a full list of the "traitors" who dared vote against 90 day detention without charge. It also printed that they voted for a "cut" to 28 days before charges must be brought, a blatant piece of misinformation when 28 days is actually a doubling of the current limit. Its leader piece, written in short monosyllabic verb less sentences, somewhat like the prime minister occasionally tends to speak in, is a piece of trash which condescends to its readership. Compare the Sun to the Mirror on most days and you'll find that the Mirror doesn't patronise its readership the way the Sun does. Wade and Murdoch think that the average prole is too stupid to make up their own mind, making demands of their readership to oppose legislation to save their hero Blair. If anything, some MPs said they received more messages condemning 90 days as a result of the Sun's campaign.

Most damning of all though is the story of the man whose photo they used on their frontpage on Tuesday. You'd imagine that they would have consulted him before using his picture in such a way to suggest that he supported Blair and the Sun campaign. They didn't, and he doesn't. He is in fact a professor of Media Studies, and has professorships at both Brunel and Cardiff. His own words:

"This is using my image to push through draconian and utterly unnecessary terrorism legislation. Its incredibly ironic that the Sun's rhetoric is as the voice of the people yet they don't actually ask the people involved, the victims, what they think. If you want to use my image, the words coming out of my mouth would be, 'Not in my name, Tony'. I haven't read anything or seen anything in the past few months to convince me these laws are necessary."

"This is a classic piece of media manipulation demonstrating the cronyism of New Labour and the Murdoch press. You don't even have to be a sophisticated analyst to see what they are doing with the visual rhetoric and verbal anchorage. The words are tying down my image to a particular political interpretation of that event, making it seem as if they come from my mouth. I'm reminded of the famous essay by the semiotician Roland Barthes, who analysed an image of a black soldier saluting the French flag. What we've got here is: I am being made to salute the Blair flag."

Maybe Rebekah Wade should take Michael Howard's advice to Tony Blair and consider her position. The real traitors are those who will take away habeas corpus and the right of innocence until proven guilty. If the Prime Minister had suggested it, no doubt the Sun would have supported it. When you can't even be bothered to ask someone you use on your front-page to make a political point what they think, it's time that you shut up.

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