Opinion Matrix | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Opinion Matrix

Redbrick Comment and Features present their take on this week’s key stories

Redbrick Comment and Features present their take on this week's key stories. Once again, they are centred around the misadventures of the Coalition but also include newfound revelations from the Leveson inquiry and on the demographic of last summer's rioters, as well as the beginnings of a dangerous new trend in tabloid journalism.

Murdoch the younger resigns
Hacking at a Murdoch-owned media outlet? Don't be preposterous! After Murdoch Junior's long overdue resignation from BSkyB, the organisation admitted on Thursday to invasive and illegal practices. They claimed the reasons for doing so were in the greater public interest. If that is true remains to be seen. The 'public interest' is so ambiguous a term, and indeed the concept itself (whether genuine or not) is under threat by the Leveson Enquiry. Murdoch media has proved it can bring to light stories of genuine interest through subterfuge, as shown by the cash for access exclusive in The Sunday Times. But the email hacking could easily undermine that, because clearly it didn't produce results.

Human Rights
New surveillance plans announced
The finale to what I'm convinced has been a Tory plan to be as unpopular and incompetent as possible this fortnight, making them comparatively tolerable for the rest of the year, has been the abandonment of the coalition pledge on civil liberties with plans to increase security services' powers of surveillance, shelved by New Labour in 2009 due to their immense unpopularity, in the name of 'counter-terrorism'. That these are one-time Labour plans show that where state power is increased at our expense such as increased surveillance or the reduction in 'legitimate' protest to voting and petitions the two major parties stand united. Cartel Party Theory suggests that, in a duopolistic political system such as ours, there is little to gain and everything to lose for political parties to compete on issues that reduce the power of the state they have cyclical control of and this is a perfect example.

'Millionaire rioter' found guilty
Finally, a little bit of justice in our society. Laura Johnson, the daughter of a millionaire, has been found guilty of burglary during the riots of summer last year. On top of this, the student has been convicted of handling stolen goods in the form of a TV from Currys (one she doubtless needed after all, coming from such an impoverished background). In typical looter-fashion, she is making excuses, claiming she was threatened, and therefore left with no choice but to chauffeur a gaggle of looters around London. For those violently targeted when the UK went up in flames last summer, this is sure to be a welcome fight back, and a message to society that money doesn’t get you everywhere. Even the millionaires get caught out sometimes.

Coalition impose hosepipe ban
Hosepipe bans for much of South-East England came into force this week, with Kent, Sussex and Surrey among the areas to suffer, (Essex presumably being so shallow that a water ban isn’t actually possible). The Tories can take pride in a shortage that isn’t entirely their own doing, and we can enjoy avoiding cringe-worthy footage of an opportunistic Ed Miliband stood outside a swimming pool, bungling on about ‘the importance of it all’. Public sympathy towards David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and other members of the ‘Chipping Norton Set’ could well soar as their Oxfordshire gardens wilt and die over the coming weeks, in what will hopefully be a striking visual representation of the coalition government. The PM could of course use the tears of the ever-increasing unemployed to water his garden, although he allegedly prefers those for bathing.

Daily Mail columnist 'trolls' nation
"Sexy" Samantha Brick caused a national storm on Tuesday when her article posted on the Daily Mail life and style pages exploring (I quote) “Why women hate me for being beautiful” went viral. It’s preposterous content has been successfully mocked and satirised elsewhere but I for one am increasingly concerned with the trend it embodies: the journalistic equivalent of the 'Troll'. The ‘Fail reportedly earned £30,000 from clicks on yesterday’s article through advertising, so despite it’s obviously appalling content, it is likely to have been regarded as a success. If the press realises that the best way to generate finance is simply to cause consternation, then there is serious danger of them abandoning the premise of ‘news’ reporting (a definition already stretched to breaking point with constant celebrity ‘scoops’)altogether in favour of salacious, ill-informed and utterly meritless speculation designed to generate word-of-mouth outrage. This is a slightly terrifying prospect.

Words by Owen Earwicker, Andrew Peck, Isabel Mason, Matthew Hewson and James Dolton


6th April 2012 at 11:00 am

Last Updated

6th April 2012 at 2:33 am