More things to hate about the press

Note: You won’t learn anything fantastically new from this entry, unless you weren’t already aware that (a) the Mail is xenophobic trash and (b) journalists neither know nor care about statistics.

Quotes from the online version of today’s Daily Mail cover story:

He described how the 29-year-old was admitted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge on March 29 having been transferred from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, south east London, after she became critically ill with symptoms of severe heart failure.

These occurred after giving birth to twin boys about two months earlier while staying in the Basildon area in Essex.

Mr Hyam said Ms A had entered the country last year on a visitor’s visa and was lawfully in the country. Her visa has since expired.

He said: “The claimant did not come to this country seeking organ transplantation. She became severely ill two months after giving birth while a lawful visitor.”

Under directions issued by the Secretary of State for Health in 2005 intended to deter “health tourism”, Ms A had no realistic prospect of obtaining a heart transplant because of the priority given to UK or EU citizens, or citizens from a country with reciprocal arrangements with Britain.

mail10may06.JPG (37K)(thanks to Daily Mail Watch)
So what we have here is somebody who is not a “health tourist”, having not come to the country to have a heart transplant, being told that she can’t get one under regulation designed to discourage “health tourism”. And what is the Mail’s headline? ‘Health tourist’ in bid for heart transplant.

Putting phrases in quotes does not actually make them invisible, and it’s not even a quote – nobody has actually called her a health tourist, apart from the despicable commenters on the article, frothing over with indignation about how we’re being swamped with freeloading foreigners. Oh, our poor tiny besieged country! Clearly the reason our NHS, Stretched To Breaking Point, isn’t providing the healthcare we think it should is because of all these scroungers! Nothing to do with policy or anything.

The article itself, at least the online version, isn’t all that bad, although it does make pointed reference to her visa status (she was a “good immigrant” the first time in that she had a valid visa, though it’s apparently now expired – not that surprising, serious heart failure can cause the odd delay in one’s travel plans). But the paper version… well, I don’t have a copy of it myself but you can see a few differences from the above picture. The first word is “Nigerian”. “Health Tourist” is still there, but it says “My Right To A New Heart” – she comes over here and thinks she has a right to our British hearts…. And you can just about read the first sentence, which is “A NIGERIAN woman whose UK visa has expired is seeking an NHS heart transplant.”

Oh, another one from yesterday that got me with a combination of unwarranted conclusions and statistics abuse. I’m not sure whether it was in the Mail but I bet it was, seeing as how their job is to convince us that we’re being overrun with swan-eating hoodie-wearing heart-stealing thugs both foreign and domestic.

An opinion poll was done that showed that, out of a thousand or so people surveyed in each of France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, 76% of people thought that Britain had a “big or moderate problem” with anti-social behaviour. (Well, at least that’s what it appears they thought. The UPI version and a few others say that, but the Bloomberg version says “76 percent thought Britain had more of a problem with anti-social behavior than any other country in the region”. I’ve discounted that because it doesn’t make any sense; the figures would add up to 100% if that was the question, and they don’t.) The full results are, it seems, as follows…

1. Great Britain:   76 percent
2. France:          75 percent
3. Germany:         61 percent
4. Italy:           52 percent
5. Spain:           51 percent
6. The Netherlands: 44 percent

The Bloomberg version says “no margin of error was given” but you can bet it’s not less than 1% so really, what this says is that Britain and France are equal top, then Germany, then Italy and Spain joint fourth, then the Netherlands.

This is of course just people’s impressions with no guarantee that they’d ever even been to the country concerned, so one might think it was more of a story for tourism boards – not much relevance to policy. But no! While a fair number of stories do mention the fact that it was a survey, headlines such as “Great Britain has the biggest problem with anti-social behaviour in Europe” aren’t uncommon either. The fact that, really, it’s Great Britain and France who are seen as having the biggest problems with anti-Social behaviour out of those six countries I’ve not seen mentioned. Because of course, the figure for Britain beats the one for France by 1%, so Britain is the worst! ~slaps forehead~

Also, apparently, in Britain, “68 per cent of people questioned feeling alcohol was a key contributor to the problem” and “breakdown of discipline in homes and schools is also seen by 79 per cent to be a major influencing factor in anti-social behaviour” (Security Park). So most people say that “breakdown of discipline” is a significant problem. Whatever that means. But no! It proves that it’s the booze! At least according to the Jill Dando Institute ~pffft~:

Professor Gloria Laycock of the Jill Dando Institute said: “This research is a wake-up call.

“We know anti-social behaviour is a major issue in Great Britain – and the rest of Europe clearly agrees.

“The study shows people believe it is fuelled by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

“Increasing our access to alcohol cannot be the answer and it is time that the Government addressed perceptions of this problem.”

No mention of any of the other things that people believe. Oh, hold on, I was forgetting that the streets of Britain, previously calm and full of tea and cucumber sandwiches, have become post-apocalyptic battlegrounds strewn with bottles of WKD, the gutters flowing with blood and vomit, now that pubs can apply for 24-hour licences, which is what this is clearly aimed at. I must have accidentally thought that there had been no effect whatsoever apart from allowing people to finish their drinks in peace.

P.S. I need to get out of the habit of automatically ending my sentences with a semicolon, unless I’m actually planning to blog in code.

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