Thursday, 18 August 2011

America declares war on David Cameron

Anyone waking in America today could have picked up or read an edition of the the New York Times. Although it now sells fewer than 1 million papers a day in metropolitan New York, it has the most popular newspaper website in the US and also hands out condensed versions (inserts) of the paper to thousands of hotels across the nation. All formats today include a shrill, personal attack on David Cameron. It's simplistic analysis is frankly bewildering.

An editorial on page 20 of the paper, which seems to have developed an enormous chip on its shoulder, states: "Mr. Cameron, a product of Britain’s upper classes and schools, has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subcultures. Would he find similar blame — this time in the culture of the well housed and well off — for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?"

The editorial goes on to say in an unfailingly sneering style: "[Cameron] talks about cutting off government benefits even to minor offenders and evicting them — and, in a repellent form of collective punishment, perhaps their families, too — from the publicly supported housing in which one of every six Britons lives."

From a city which has benefited more than any other from a 'Zero Tolerence' approach to policing, and to talk of "Britain's urban wastelands" these attacks are bizarre. So what's the problem? Unfortunately, just as The Guardian is read by those who work at the BBC and build consensus around Islington dinner tables, the New York Times is still America's newspaper of record.

Admittedly its impact is greatly diminished as an agenda setter coast-to-coast compared to its heyday but it still matters. Thanks to the liberal partners of The Guardian working in New York, the UK has today taken another significant hit to its reputation around the world.   

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