It’s odd when journalists actually stick up for Lib Dems. It’s even weirder when they stick up for Lib Dems in error, too.
The controversy around the Adventure Playgrounds – that story where parents were banned from hanging around watching their kids – first caught my attention when The Heresiarch sent me a link to the Mayor Dorothy Thornhill’s comments. After contemplating suicide, I decided not to give it too much extra through. Life’s too short, isn’t it?
But, while I wasn’t paying attention, the story became huge and the Mayor’s comments on this subject were deleted. Luckily the Heresiarch had cut-and-pasted it into his own blog in full.
Here’s the relevant quote:
At one playground a few parents started to stay around for all the sessions, this increased to the extent that staff felt they were spending more time worrying about what the parents were up to rather than watching and supervising the children! They should not have been allowed to stay that’s never been the policy, so yes we were lax in allowing it and have now decided to tighten up.
Imagine what those same papers would say if a child was snatched from the playground and we were accused of allowing free access of adults onto our site. Or worse still one of those adults was using it to acquire knowledge of and groom other children – yes sadly it happens we all know that. Again, we would rightly be pilloried.
I’d say that’s a classic example of paedo-noia gone bonkers, starting with the staff (absolutely terrified) and then the politicians (absolutely terrified) and resulting in absolute stupidity.
John Rentoul, writing on his Independent Minds blog, draws our attention to a post over on Sadie’s Tavern – presumably because he wants to have a laugh at a rival over at the Observer. Oh dear. So, dutifully, I followed the link. What on earth could possibly have been written that would save that Mayor after what I’d read? Sadie writes:
Once again that tedious old high-Tory proponent of negative liberty, Henry Porter, heartens all would-be journalists by demonstrating that an inability to undertake the most basic research and a propensity to wilfully distort the facts through the medium of a writing style which would have a Key Stage 3 teacher weeping with horror, need not be a barrier to a lucrative column in a Sunday newspaper.
Oh no! Not a High Tory proponent of Negative Liberty!! Not an inability to undertake basic research and a propensity to wilfully distort facts!!
Here we go.. here’s the really great bit:
The Liberal Democrat Voice and the Liberal Conspiracy have comprehensively debunked the original Metro article that gave rise to Henry’s latest bout of apoplexy over ainshunt libertees which you should read in full. In summary: they are not “open access” playgrounds, they are supervised facilities in which the children undertake activities that could be dangerous if they are concentrating on making sure that their parents are watching them rather than watching what they are doing. And, in spite of the fevered imaginings of both Porter and the Daily Mail, there’s not a mention of a paedophile in sight.
Right. So an entirely different story to the one that came out of the Mayor’s mouth then?
Let’s see. Sadie has a quote from the Mayor!
“Quotes attributed to me have been taken out of context – I’m not saying adults shouldn’t be allowed on playgrounds – I’d go and shoot myself if this was the case – only on these specialised play facilities! We have 40 other playgrounds elsewhere in the Borough where parents are welcome to stay.”
WTF? Seriously? Hang on, let’s look again at what the Mayor actually wrote herself again:
Imagine what those same papers would say if a child was snatched from the playground and we were accused of allowing free access of adults onto our site. Or worse still one of those adults was using it to acquire knowledge of and groom other children – yes sadly it happens we all know that.
Hmm. Inability to undertake basic research and a propensity to distort facts? Fail, Sadie. Complete fail. I suppose, really, the original spin came from Lib Dem Voice though. Worrying.
UPDATE: The Mayor reposted the post here. I’m assured it’s word for word the same, although I’m not sure this substantially changes the story