Friday, February 18, 2011

John Glen - spinning or spun against?

The Salisbury MP, villified here and elsewhere after his appearance on Channel 4 News this week, where he appeared to blame families who used a charitable food bank for making wrong decisions, has spoken out to his local paper, claiming that he was 'done up like a kipper' by the manipulations of the journalist Gary Gibbon.

Mr Glen gave a 20-minute interview on the subject but by the time it was broadcast, he says, it had been edited to two 30-second soundbites giving the impression he blamed people for making poor decision about how they spend their money.... He has protested to the news bulletin’s director.
I have asked Channel 4 News for a comment - not that I'm hopeful of getting a response.

I would point out though, that 'I was misquoted/misrepresented/stitched up/taken out of context' is the first line of defence of anyone caught saying something that they would rather keep out of the public ear.

Blogger Raymond Soltysek asked the man himself for comment and received the following reply, which I reproduce in part.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a compassionate person, who is deeply committed to helping people. That 30-second excerpt of my 20 minute conversation with the reporter, in no way reflects my full views.

I agreed to take part in the interview, believing it to be a piece about the Trussell Trust food bank, a Christian charity founded in Salisbury, for which I have the greatest admiration and with whom I have recently undertaken a day’s volunteering.

I wanted to support the Trussell Trust by taking what I thought was a golden opportunity to go to their HQ and publicly praise their work in the most challenging and deprived area in Salisbury, where I know from personal experience that many people’s lives have disintegrated into utter chaos – for any number of reasons.

The wider context of the piece was not made clear to me and I really regret the fact that the way the piece was edited made it appear as though I was casting aspersions on the household management skills of the three people who were interviewed separately – something I would never dream of doing, nor did I know who they were or their personal circumstances.

Of course poverty exists in leafy Salisbury and the circumstances of the interviewees – illness, rent arrears and the expenses associated with a new baby – illustrated exactly why the kind of short-term crisis support offered by the food bank is so valuable.

So, was he misquoted or just caught out?


Richard Allen said...

No way to know for sure but we all know how these kind of things work. The interviewers have an agenda, they ask question after question just trying to get the answer they want which is the only thing that they end up publishing.

Raymond Soltysek said...

Well, let’s get a wider perspective of Mr Glen, shall we? This is from The Independent, 5th December 2010:

“The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which runs the new system, last week published 22,000 expenses claims showing that MPs had been paid £3.1m in the first three and a half months after the general election. The data showed that several MPs – including the Prime Minister – rent out homes in London but don’t claim parliamentary accommodation costs for living in the capital. But Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts and his Labour colleague Frank Roy both rent out properties in London while claiming their own rent. Tories George Freeman, JOHN GLEN and Jessica Lee also rent out London flats, while claiming for expenses including rent, council tax and hotel bills.”

It seems either Mr Glen is remarkably prone to being “spun against”, or he is, indeed, a selfish, self-serving creep. You decide.

PoliticalHackUK said...

Thanks again Raymond. Hope you don't mind me nicking your quote (with credit).

The thing is, he DID say those things and his excuse is the standard one from anyone caught saying the wrong thing to the media. It is also quite a serious charge he levels at Channel 4 News - who have yet to respond.

My view hasn't yet changed.

Raymond Soltysek said...

Not at all - nick away!

I agree - he SAID that anyone with a wage coming into the house could afford food if they didn't spend it on other things: what on earth is "out of context" about that? And his reply to me points out that he didn't know THESE people - which is suspiciously like the odious "present company excepted" defence. But what is clear is that he feels he has the right to comment on the lifestyles of those who are experiencing real hardship because of their dwindling pay packets while bolstering his own bank account by playing the expenses system.

My view has changed - it's getting harder!

John said...

This is John Glen - how about the fact that I have a massive mortgage on the flat in London which is rented out, It has been rented out since I got married 2 years before I came an MP in 2010. I can't use it now as the expenses system says I need to rent somewhere (at higher public expense incidentally) than the mortgage interest payment. I am more than happy with that system and will take any questions on my expenses. Call me "selfish, self-serving creep" if you like Raymond - but these are the facts which I recognise you don't care too much for....