Grey Cardigan: Letters pages and the perils of pandering to 'pressure groups'


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We are all taught at our first editor’s knee that it’s not always the big front page expose that puts you at risk of persecution by a larceny of lawyers, but that danger also lurks in the seemingly calmer waters of the letters pages. This, in my experience, is painfully true.

Of course, where so many editors go wrong letters-wise is when they start publishing crap from irrelevant, single-issue pressure groups – the Judean People’s Front and the like. They do this because they are lazy.

These nonsensical missives fill a space in the gaping void amongst the dog shit agitators and the pothole deniers, therefore they go in, saving an over-worked sub the chore of knocking out a few missives of his own instead. And that’s where the trouble begins.

The latest newspaper to fall foul of this unavoidable truth is the Whitstable Times, which for some reason published a letter from Ms Millie Tant of the Whitstable and Faversham branch of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign complaining about Canterbury City Council’s tender process for the emptying of bins in the area.

Yes, I know, it’s more surreal than anything Monty Python could come up with.

This sparked a response from another reader who accused Ms Tant and her friends of sending financial aid to Palestinian terror groups which could be used to fund terrorism in this country and made mention of the London bus and tube attacks of 7/7.

I’m not sure if Canterbury’s bins were involved or not. Ms Tant complained to the PCC, the complaint was upheld and an apology has now been published.

What a fucking farce. And, frankly, all of their own making.


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