Bristol fights back (one bowl of cous cous at a time)!

Recognise this pathetic little pound sign logo? Yep, it’s the mascot of the Post’s “Bristol Fights Back” campaign (his name’s Bill, geddit?). Launched last December with the backing of Bristol City Council, this campaign is the Post’s attempt to “guide readers through the economic downturn.”

Yes, people of Bristol; you may be facing redundancy, repossession, homelessness, pay cuts and an all-round economic shafting but don’t fear, the Evening Post is here to lead the fightback.

There are a few problems with this campaign, though. Firstly, the Post seems to be in complete denial about the seriousness of this economic crisis (or “downturn as they euphemistically call it). They take every opportunity to bring us head-in-the-sand reports that everything’s gonna be fine. So even in the article introducing the fightback they are determined to tell us that Bristol’s gonna be OK. And why wouldn’t we with an economy based on financial services, retail and the service sector, oh, hang on . . .

Council leader Councillor Helen Holland said: “Some assessments think that we might be better placed than a number of other authorities to weather the storm.

People in business have also expressed optimism about Bristol. Andrew Forbes, Bristol spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “I have no doubt that we can pull through the current difficulties. “I know only too well the doom and gloom that is too prevalent on our news screens. However . . . I have no doubt that we will weather the storm and press on to build an even more exciting city in the next 25 years.”

And John Rushforth, deputy vice-chancellor at UWE, said: “The University of the West of England is looking forward with optimism. “We’ve recently announced the purchase of land formerly owned by Hewlett Packard . . .  In a smaller, but no less important way, we are holding a ‘Feel Good Week’ starting on Wednesday (3 December) as a preview tofor our Feel Good February.”

The other problem the Post has with leading a fightback is that they absolutely no fucking idea what a fightback is or who the fuck they are supposed to be fighting.

If they really wanted to start a fightback against the economic hardship many Bristolians are facing there are some obvious targets. They could campaign for the council and government to begin an emergency council house building programme; they could demand the council takes possession of some of the hundreds properties sitting empty and turn them over to those in need; they could lead a campaign against First Group’s crippling bus fares; they could call for a freeze on council tax.

But no. What do we get instead? The first couple of months of daily fightback articles were little more than free advertising for local businesses. Far from serious advice for those suffering the effects of the crisis, the articles were mostly puff pieces about how well “our” local businesses are doing.

Been made redundant? Why not set a business making kids’ suitcases-with-faces-and wheels like this dick from Clifton who’s been on Dragon’s Den. Or start selling power generators to BT like these smug bastards from Warmley. Look, look, these Bristolians are rich, why aren’t you? Why aren’t you rich like these people? Why are you poor? What recession? What are you doing wrong?

It’s just rubbing salt in our wounds really.

Then of course there have been the incessant consumer and shopping advice articles; where to find a bargain (M&S!), how to make money by switching your credit cards about, how to drive slowly to save fuel, blah blah blah.

And for the past couple of weeks the whole fightback campaign seems to have degenerated into a cookery advice column. We’ve been told that own-brand is cheaper than brand-name food and that some supermarkets are cheaper than others. We’ve had recipes for corned beef hash, “feed four for a fiver spiced cous cous”, budget pork and potato pie and pork curry brought to us by “Celebrity Masterchef winner and pop singer Liz McClarnon”.

There have been the odd debt and job-hunting tips as well, but a fightback? Nothing.

So what would a real fight back look like? Well, one of the first signs of the crisis affecting ordinary people came last year with the combination of rapid inflation combined with government imposed pay freezes, below inflation rises and job cuts for some of our most important public sector workers.

And they tried to fight back. Last April teachers and low paid public sector workers staged a one day strike against job loses and pay cuts. 2000 strikers and their supporters marched through Bristol.

How did the Post respond to these Bristolians fighting back? Here’s their editorial from April 22nd 2008,

Many teachers use words like “vocation” and “dedication” when they talk about their profession. Yet some of these same people will on Thursday refuse to work. Just a week or so before tens of thousands of children face SATs tests, and days after returning from the late Easter holidays, their school week will be disrupted. This is a wholly selfish act by members of the National Union of Teachers .
These are people perfectly able to understand the budgetary restraints on schools, perfectly able to appreciate that we live in difficult economic times, yet seemingly unable to accept the responsibility they have for educating children and apparently unwilling to apply some common sense  to their situation. It is like listening to car workers’ unions from the 1970s. They resist change, they complain about conditions and they bleat constantly about their workload. Yet they are blessed with working conditions that have continually improved.
They get more help in the classroom than ever before. They get so-called inset days tacked onto the end of holidays for extra training.
And don’t forget they get the most generous holidays of any profession, anywhere.
If there are teachers who don’t like any of that, why don’t they just resign? Their action on Thursday shows they are interested only in themselves.

That’s right, people of Bristol; the Post says these are difficult economic times and you must shut up and pay the price demanded by the government. The Post doesn’t give a fuck about a fightback.

Perhaps the editors are also scared that their journos, facing redundancy and increased workloads, might get some ideas and start their own fightback . . .

If or when there is real resistance to the crisis the Post will be on the other side.

Oh, and this is the latest in the fightback campaign. Advice to shop on a new website run by . . .  The Evening Post.

EP pays to shop


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One Response to “Bristol fights back (one bowl of cous cous at a time)!”

  1. Whadda we want? Chicken broth for under a fiver! « Bristol Evening Post Watch Says:

    […] Oh, and don’t be fooled by that “People Power” headline at the bottom of that editorial column. That’s a reference to a campaign in Stokes Croft to replace bill boards with street art. Very admirable and worthy of support and that. But when it comes to real people power, a real fightback, the Post will just smack you down. […]

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