Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Perfect Storm

The Government’s fiddling of the official stats on knife crime has made me think about how campaigners misuse data for their own benefit. The rise of the ‘single issue fanatic’ (often called a SIF in the trade) has been astounding in the last 20 years (tobacco, phone masts, MMR, 4x4s, dangerous dogs, handguns etc). Why? I think a number of factors have been instrumental:

a. Weak politicians who are desperate to appear relevant
b. The 24/7 news agenda that simply must be filled
c. The all dominating dogma of the ‘human interest’ angle on every topic
d. The quite astonishing human appetite for conspiracy theories

(These last two are the lifeblood of the soft left ‘media luvvie’ intelligentsia who dominate control of the media).

Thus, you can get anything banned if you know how. Below, the 10 steps to the perfect storm.

I am an SIF and want to get Government to crack down on…whatever it is I am against…let’s say, Bic biros for sake of argument.

Campaign Plan

1. Procure research showing a theoretical health concern

Anything will do really. Just a rogue bloke whose first name is ‘Professor’ or ‘Doctor’ will suffice. Actually a woman is better, especially if she is vaguely attractive. The fact that the risk is in the 0.000 range simply doesn’t matter.

2. Calculate a ‘theoretical body count’

Remember to turn “one in 1,000,000 children could be at risk” into “millions of children could be at risk”. (In reality, 60 children in the UK could be at risk, probably about as many that could be at risk of being struck by lightning or being in a car accident with a member of the Royal family in fact).

3. Ramp up the ‘theoretical body count’

Go global baby: “100s of millions of children could be at risk worldwide”. Now we’re cooking.

4. Find a couple of case studies

Get said academic to trawl A&E records to find the three children who died from swallowing a Bic biro top in the last five years. Sign the parents up. Film interviews with them – cue shots of parents looking at pictures of their dead children on the mantelpiece, sitting on the sofa leafing through the family photo album, must make them cry though, that sort of thing.

5. Establish a website with some factsheets

‘Facts that Bic don’t want you to know’. Easy. Done in a day.

7. Scare a trio of backbench MPs (one from each main party)

Ideally these should be constituency MPs of signed up parents. Film ‘rent-a-quote’ MPs outside Parliament: “One death is one death too many”. Prepare Early Day Motion, demand for meetings with ministers (“Legislation required at the very least”). MPs must call for Government action. You know the score.

8. Day before launch

Call up Bic at one minute to five o’clock in the afternoon and demand to know what they are doing. Must ask on tape: “How many children has your product killed in the last year alone?” Record the inevitable “No Comment”, probably from the receptionist or night security guard.

9. Launch campaign

Run a big media story in the Saturday Daily Mail. “We asked Bic to speak to us but they were unavailable for comment”. Sit back and wait for the telephone to ring off the hook.

10. Feed story to all media outlets for Sunday

Best targets: Sunday Mirror, News of the World, Observer, BBC TV news. Ensure academic, crying parents and tame MPs available for all Sunday TV bulletins and political chat shows.

Result: for sure on Monday a Government minister will cry crocodile tears on every channel and explain the outline legislation that the Government “has been working on for months”.

Job done.

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