A friend and colleague posted a Sky News story to Facebook today with the headline “Police Overtime Bill Hits £3.8bn In 10 Years” http://news.sky.com/skynews/Article/201103115946836). The article, based on a report by the Conservative think-tank Policy Exchange, is a brief puff-piece that can be summed up by the headline – if you take a chunk of national public expenditure and multiply it by ten, it sounds frickin’ huge.
The report doesn’t go into any detail about what the OT was actually used for, but there are plenty of assumptions bandied about that it was all simply to provide more pies for the po-po. Oh, and here’s the link to the research itself – Sky News must have forgotten that quoting research in a news article without linking to the original source screams out “we’re talking bollocks”, as well as being in contravention of the mighty Ben Goldacre’s fantastic idea for making news more difficult to make up.
This sort of rabble-rousing is obviously far easier than doing proper journalism, and it’s a wonderfully handy weapon for the government to hand out to their tame news-whores when they’re flamethrowering a new chunk of the public sector. Need to get public sympathy away from the police in the run-up to the Winsor Report? Call them a bunch of scrounging money-grabbers – simples!
As regular readers will know, I’m a helpful sort of monkey. With this in mind, I’d like to create a repository of handy headlines for whipping up the masses against various public sector jobs:
NHS spends £40 million per year on saucy uniforms for nurses! (This can have ‘to titillate asylum seekers’ added to it for the Daily Mail and Daily Star)
Teachers fleece Britain for thirty million paid days off per year! (thanks to N for this one)
Taxpayer stumps up for firefighters’ comfy duvets!
Women civil servants demand separate toilets in PC-WC shocker! (News of the World can include a staged photo of a woman on the toilet for this one)
Government pisses away billions to bail out banks! (nah, that’d never happen)
Have our boys gone soft? Fury as troops get free foreign travel to sunny shores! (Daily Star can add ‘to help beardie mullahs’)
Millions wasted as NHS refuses to use amputated body parts in canteen meals! (Daily Star version adds ‘to appease mad mullahs’, Daily Mail can make the body parts ‘cancer-curing’)
Pampered GPs fritter millions per year on lightbulbs and electricity for swish offices!
Millions wasted on NHS mops and buckets as administrators refuse to allow stray dogs to lick blood from floors!
You get the idea. I think this is going to be one of the those posts where your comments are going to be better than my suggestions, so post ’em if you got ’em!