Recent Articles

Do 63% of girls really want to be glamour models? No.

by Sarah Ditum     April 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Zombie stats are numerical factoids that just won’t quit, however dead they get. There’s a special pang in seeing their rotten heads pop up in a debate you know and care about, so this week, I am going to bust the mouldering brain pans of feminism’s favourite zombie stats.

63% of young women would rather be glamour models than nurses, doctors or teachers

What an indictment of the grotesque aspirations we feed our girl children this one is: raised in a culture that prizes fame, individualism and female sexual availability above all else.

This one appeared yesterday in a very interesting article by Terri White, who formerly worked as associate editor of Nuts and deputy editor of Maxim.
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Social media and political activism: the big debate

by Sarah Ditum     October 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm

All debates about the influence of social media come down to this. It is just fast paper. Was anyone expecting anything else? I mention this because The Observer today contains a summary of the Gladwell v Shirky spat over the power of Twitter, and while it’s presented as an argument, both of them are basically offering versions of the ‘fast paper’ argument.

Gladwell’s thesis is that social media campaigning doesn’t change anything. Retweeting a hashtag, clicking the ‘like’ button and slapping a twibbon (ick) on your avatar are all heart-warming acts of self-congratulation – a little pat on your own back in recognition of your very fine moral nature – but they don’t have any influence on the real world.

The Shirky response is, more or less, ‘Duh.‘ Some people overstated the case for Twitter activism during the Green Uprising in Iran, but just because social media couldn’t overthrow a government doesn’t mean it isn’t good at other stuff.
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Why is this government against families?

by Sarah Ditum     July 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Iain Duncan Smith loves families. Nice families, of course, with a mum and a dad – not any old rag-tag childrearing unit.

His Centre For Social Justice believes that “married two-parent families produce the best outcomes for both adults and children”, and in government, he’s contributed to the policy of removing the dubious “couples penalty” from the benefits system.

Why dubious?
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Why does Phillip Blond see civic cohesion as a security issue?

by Sarah Ditum     June 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

Things are looking rosy for ResPublica, the Conservative think tank led by official enemy of Paperhouse and original Red Tory Phillip Blond.

There’s now a government that’s broadly sympathetic to ResPublica’s aims (Red Toryism occupies the same sort of self-help space as Compassionate Conservatism). And it’s received a hefty injection of support – enough to be recruiting for six new positionsoffering “competitive + bonus” salaries.

One of the roles it’s looking to fill is “head of the security and civil cohesion unit“. Wait, what? Why does “security” go with “civil cohesion”?
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How Compassionate Conservatism writes off the poor

by Sarah Ditum     June 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

As secretary of state for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith will oversee the application of those “savage”, “momentous”, “way-of-life disrupting” cuts to some of those at the very bottom of the social heap.

His late metamorphosis into the Tory party’s social conscience was one of the more endearing curiousities of the Conservatives’ wilderness years.

Sure, the assumptions from which IDS’s Centre For Social Justice worked were often numbingly traditionalist.
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Pupils are getting thrown to the lions over Christian education

by Sarah Ditum     June 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

Only 50% of Britons describe themselves as Christian, while 43% say they have no religion. Some people wonder if there shouldn’t be a way of making this ostensibly Christian country a bit more, well, Christian.

And so, when Ofsted releases a report criticising the provision of religious education in UK schools, traditionalist voices like the Telegraph are ready to jump all over it and blame “misplaced enthusiasm for multiculturalism” and the “ignorance” of teachers for the limited treatment of Christianity.
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Does paying drug addicts to be sterilised work?

by Sarah Ditum     May 22, 2010 at 9:30 am

Barbara Harris, the founder of Project Prevention, is the definition of a social entrepreneur. She’s the kind of person who, under the Big Society ideology of the Conservatives, might be represented as a worthy provider of a public service.

She saw a social problem where she lived in LA, and she – with the time, money and inclination to do it – implemented her own solution. She even uses the language of entrepreneurship to describe the poor and desperate people she works with: they’re her “paid clients”.

And now, she’s bringing that solution to the UK, campaigning from the This Morning Sofa and the BBC’s Hard Talk.

The problem she identified is the birth of babies to drug-addicted parents. And the solution? Paying addicts to be sterilised.
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Liddle hope for the Indy

by Sarah Ditum     January 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

There can’t be many people with any affection for the Independent who are happy about the idea of Rod Liddle becoming editor, however premature the rumours might be.

But there probably aren’t very many people left with much affection for the Indy at all, because the brand seems to have specialised in weird and reputation-squandering reversals. Its Sunday version campaigns for the legalisation of cannabis, but then decides that skunk is actually a deadly menace.

It doesn’t support the Iraq war, but then recruits the Observer editor who put the made-up case for war on his front page.

Appropriately, Liddle was indirectly behind one of the other great journalistic screw-ups of the Iraq war – as editor of Today, he recruited Andrew Gilligan, who both found an internal source to blow the whistle on the exaggerations and bad intelligence in the “45 minutes” dossier, and then ruined the story’s credibility by mishandling his quotes and revealing his source.
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How Judge Eady went from press villain to hero

by Sarah Ditum     June 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

It’s not unusual for public figure to experience severe reversals of reputation, and the distance between “nation’s sweetheart” and “national disgrace” can be as short as a few column inches. But Lord Justice Eady’s recent rehabilitation in the eyes of the press is a remarkable one – for the swiftness with which some editors have shifted position, and for what it suggests about the future possibilities for scrutiny in the media.

Around the end of 2008, Eady was the most unpopular judge on the circuit as far as newspapers were concerned. His rulings on privacy –  including extending indefinite protection from publicity to Maxine Carr, preventing the exposure of an adulterous sports star, and most famously awarding hefty damages to Max Mosley when he sued the News of the World for publishing details of a private S&M session – seemed to get lambasted every time a tabloid editor made a speech.
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How churnalists become friends to the BNP

by Sarah Ditum     May 27, 2009 at 9:05 am

The BNP is a repugnant, racist organisation that is somehow able to present itself as a legitimate political party despite having a leader with a conviction for distributing Holocast-denying literature, a London Assembly member who spouts made-up crime stories and a track-record of misogyny that could keep Jim Davidson in material for the rest of his life.

The BNP is detestable, and it knows as much – which is why the party has been making exerted attempts to rebrand itself, dressing up racism as a culture war and claiming to stand up for the white man on the street against political correctness, immigration, and all those other half-lit monsters that loom from the national press.

There’s a commonly-made argument that the BNP thrive on being ostracised, that presenting them as bigots is playing into their hands. This is rubbish, of course.
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