Posts Tagged ‘Sally Bercow’

Some thoughts on news values and people in the public eye apparently being phenomenally naive. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been glued to the rolling news since about Wednesday, following the whole Egyptian situation. While on one level it’s difficult to see quite how this can come to a happy conclusion, it’s fantastic and almost breathtaking to see a people come together in common cause this way, seemingly for the purest of motives.

The Daily Mail‘s line on the clashes in Tahrir Square, of course, was to relegate the biggest story in world news to page 10 – pre-empted by much more urgent pieces of BBC-bashing, whining about the EU, and a pig that took part in a dog obstacle course – and the main thrust of the coverage was ‘Ooh, look! Camels!’

Fun as it is to point out things that make the Daily Mail look preposterous, a metaphor incorporating the words ‘shooting’, ‘fish’, and ‘barrel’ springs to mind, and today at least it was not alone in neglecting serious international news. Along with those other bastions of the Tory press, the Express and the Telegraph, today the Mail stuck the following photo on its front page:

I know what you're wondering. Frankly, so am I.


You probably either know who this is or you don’t, and in this case I don’t think there’s any shame in ignorance. This woman is Sally Bercow, who’s notorious for her constant tweeting and left-wing activism, mainly because she’s married to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

The Speaker is supposedly the apolitical umpire of the chamber and not supposed to involve himself in the details of the usual petty wrangling over policy. It seems to be felt by many on the right that Bercow’s general attitude is unbecoming of his office, his missus’s activities threaten the Speaker’s impartiality, he’s a bit of an apostate (the job should have gone to a proper Tory), and that Mrs Bercow is a deranged self-publicist and ought to be locked away somewhere.

Mrs Bercow’s decision to let herself be photographed wrapped in a sheet has, not surprisingly, provoked some rather negative reactions from people holding these kind of views. The leggy-brunette-in-provocative-shoot angle makes this story slightly more attention-grabbing (shades of all that Anna Chapman nonsense last summer) but in many ways grumbling about the Speaker is the definition of the kind of story that people in and around Parliament get very excited over, but which real actual people couldn’t give a damn about.

This is not to say that Sally Bercow isn’t a total ning-nong for agreeing to do it in the first place. ‘I didn’t know I was going to be photographed in a sheet until I got there,’ is her response. Hmmm. Still doesn’t mean you had to agree to it, though? As far as I know there isn’t a foolproof legal method of making strapping brunettes get undressed against their will (and believe me, in my younger days I looked hard for one). It all sounds a bit disingenuous to me. And, in case you’re wondering, vis-a-vis Sally Bercow – yes, once upon a time I probably would’ve.

Either this will make people retreat further into the strange news bubble generated by many media outlets – a place like a hall of mirrors, with everything appearing out of proportion, one way or the other – or some kind of realisation as to the nature of a lot of modern news will start to dawn. I may be pessimistic, but I know which I think is more likely.

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