Sometimes I get a bit hand-wringy about how I constantly look at the Mail - not because there's anything wrong with singling out those evil scumbags, you understand; rather, I'm worried it's getting a wee bit too easy. Surely a 'quality' newspaper like the Telegraph won't stoop to the levels of the Mail? Surely they will analyse something like the Budget in a cool and rational journalistic way? Surely they won't attempt a cack-handed portrayal of 'war on the middle class'?
Budget 2008: Higher tax for 9 in 10 drivers
You mean to say things are going up in price? What kind of crazy alchemistic phenomenon is this? Why wasn't I informed of this witchcraft? Maybe we could think of a name for it, oh I don't know, 'inflation' seems an idea. Why on earth should road tax ever go up? Surely, despite the increased costs of everything else in the world - including public transport, rocketing up in price well above inflation - motorists should still be paying sixpence a year for the privilege of driving a car, and that should never change. What kind of fool wrote this, I wonder? A junior reporter? A work experience boy?
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Quite. Deputy political editor, not deputy business editor. And political is exactly what he is.
The full scale of the clampdown on middle-class motorists has become clear after it emerged that nine in 10 cars will be affected by higher rates of tax under plans announced in the Budget.
Firstly, a 'clampdown' is not just taxing people a bit more. A 'clampdown' is when you're trying to impose restrictions on someone. And by their very nature, the middle class can afford to drive in the first place - paying more for it won't restrict them as such. So why use the word, if not to create a misleading impression that the government is trying to restrict behaviour? It's not. It's just raising revenue.
Analysis shows that over the next two years, millions of motorists will face soaring bills
Bills? It's one bill a year.
as road tax on some
Some, not all. To give the impression that these 'some' represent the majority.
family models doubles.
Family models. Are these family models like the Mercedes used to illustrate 'family cars' in the Graph the other day? I imagine for a lot of Telegraph readers, that is the family motor, but please, most people can afford nothing like that.
The Treasury will net more than £1billion
Compared to what? What kind of increase is it? Not mentioned. Because a billion sounds bigger when it's not compared to a few hundred million.
from the tax grab
Tax grab! As opposed to 'tax', which is what it is. Like 'land grab', the implication is that the Treasury are taking something that isn't rightfully theirs. This is the language of George W Bush, the nonsensical 'it's your money' bullshit with which he justified scrapping inheritance tax, giving more to the rich by taking it from the poor.
And can I see your working on this 'analyis'? Ooh no, secret. Shhh.
The middle classes
Like the Mail, pluralising them. Which middle classes are these?
already face above-inflation increases on their energy bills, grocery shopping and mortgage costs
And it's this that's key. Let's look at this again. Above-inflation rises in mortgage costs...? Well like duh, how do you think banks make money? This is the deputy political editor of a national newspaper saying this as if it's something unusual. What the hell is he doing, if not to create a misleading impression? I can't believe he's ignorant.
But yes, energy bills are soaring, thanks to world prices and privatisation, the latter of which happened under a Tory government and has not been reversed under New Labour, despite a one-off punitive 'windfall tax'. Is the Telegraph urging renationalisation? I fancy not. But it is a useful stick to beat Labour with - bills are going up. Well yes, but that's due to energy prices worldwide going up, and exacerbated by privatisation.
And yes, that grocery shopping bill from M&S or Waitrose is a few pennies more for the poor lambs in the middle class(es). Yes, how we must shed a tear from them, as opposed to people in poverty, who are hit even harder. Well world food prices are rising. The poor are starving, thanks to the 'invisible hand' of the market, which is killing thousands and thousands.
Millions of people have little choice but to drive to work or school because of the poor state of public transport
And the huge cost, let's not forget the huge cost. For many, it's cheaper to drive, because public transport goes up by 10 per cent every year, whereas driving doesn't. But is this Telegraph chappie really saying a huge investment in public transport is the answer? Wouldn't we have to be - gasp - taxed for that? So what is he saying? Public transport is rubbish, so we have to drive, so please make it cheaper for those who can afford a car, leaving those too poor to afford one to be cut adrift with increasingly terrible public transport? Again, I reiterate: deputy political editor.
Pressure was rising on Alistair Darling, the chancellor, amid claims that the Treasury rushed through the new road tax system without analysing the implications.
Textbook Mail territory here - 'pressure' and 'claims' where we can't quite find evidence, yet we want to steer the reader towards a certain conclusion. So what is this writer's real problem? With tax? With poor public transport? With rising bills? Or with the Labour party not being quite as competent as a Tory government would be at doing the administration of extremely similar policies? Is this article out of genuine concern for the poor impoverished middle class(es), who supposedly suffer so much more than the poor? Or is it simply to try and portray Labour as incompetent compared to the Tories? Is it just point-scoring?
Mr Darling is already struggling to restore his political reputation
How? Who says?
after having to undo hasty changes he proposed to capital gains tax and the taxation of non-domiciles.
Tory ideas, supposedly. See, if only they'd been in charge...
A Labour insider
Oh here we go... a senior Labour insider? A real person? Or a very convenient Labour source saying exactly what Tories would like to hear?
admitted that of the two main budget measures - alcohol and motoring - the assault on drivers could prove to be the most damaging.
Did he now. He talked about an assault on drivers, did he. Not much of a bloody Labour figure, is he? Why, only a completely made up person could come up with more damaging things to say about his own party.
He said: "When you start clobbering families for driving a run-of-the-mill car
or people carrier then people will start to notice and that will cause us difficulties."
Blimey. No wonder this chap wants to stay anonymous!
Aha, here we go with the astroturf pressure group who can be relied upon to give the most anti-government, anti-taxation quote and analysis possible. Nice balanced article then:
The research, by the tax payers' alliance...
I switch off when I see the words tax payers' alliance, or Christian Voice, or MigrationWatch. Meaningless groups who represent no-one, yet claim to represent everyone, the mythical 'silent majority', that brilliant concoction that is as equally untrue but hard-to-disprove-due-to-not-existing as the PC Brigade.
Next we move on to a list of 'family cars' which are eligible for big tax rises. See if you can spot what's going on here.
Vauxhall Astra 2.0i 16v
Saab 93 MY2008
Ford Focus 1.6 Duratec
Citroen Xsara Picasso
Ford: £15000 minimum
Are the Astra and the Saab really 'family cars'? Why did the TPA choose cars with such enormous fuck-off engines, if not to try and ramp up the figures? The whole point of the exercise - correct me if I'm wrong - was to try and get people to think about their car choices. And I think it's blindingly stupid to say no-one was warned. These changes have been taking place for years. No use pretending they haven't. Diesels and low emission cars are available - and much cheaper cars than the ones chosen by the TPA as well. But that wouldn't make the figures look quite so outlandish, would it?
Matthew Elliott of the TPA said: "Alistair Darling may have claimed high moral motives but this is just a grubby tax grab..."
So that's where the 'tax grab' idea came from: a totally unrepresentative pressure group that hates being taxed. And the deputy political editor of the Telegraph used it verbatim.
So there's the high standards of the Telegraph. So very much different from the Mail? I really don't think so. There's the same anti-Labour approach to everything, the same 'tax is theft' mentality of the rich, the same intent to claim that they're standing up for the 'middle class(es)', the same slavish devotion to nonsensical astroturf pressure groups. Just because it's in the Telegraph, it doesn't make bad journalism suddenly good.