Anorak News | Tory TV: Boris Johnson, Allegra Stratton and lifestyle choices

Tory TV: Boris Johnson, Allegra Stratton and lifestyle choices

by | 9th, October 2020

Boris Johnson, Allegra Stratton and lifestyle choices

Allegra Stratton is the Government’s new US-style press secretary. She’ll deliver the Government’s daily televised briefings to the people. This changes the old way of political hacks speaking off camera with the Prime Minister’s spokesman, a politically anonymous civil servant. Hired by the Tory Party, her reported £100,000-a-year salary paid by the taxpayer, Stratton will be free to attacks opposition parties.

So what can we expect to see from Tory Telly and the former political correspondent for the Guardian, political editor of BBC’s Newsnight, national editor at ITV News, co-presenter of Robert Peston’s show Peston on Sunday and director of strategic communications for Chancellor Rishi Sunak?

Stratton is unarguably a high achiever. And with that comes connections. In 2011, she married James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator, the conservative magazine which Prime Minister Boris Johnson used to edit. Mary Wakefield, wife of Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is the Spectator’s Commissioning Editor.

Someone not on that dinner party list is Shanene Thorpe. In 2012, Stratton reported on the government’s proposed cuts to welfare benefits. To the then coalition government, welfare was a “lifestyle choice”. Londoner Thorpe was juggling full-time employment with raising a young child.

“The government is thinking of saying to young people: if you don’t have work, don’t leave home,” said Stratton to camera after the patronising interview ended.

“Immediately after filming I was upset: I felt as if I’d been mugged,” said Thorpe. “I’d been led to believe I’d be defending young people from benefit cuts, not defending my family.” She tweeted: “To set the record straight, I work for tower hamlets council, I’ve worked since 16 and I only get help towards my rent because it is so high.”

Thorpe was upset enough to start an online petition – it was signed by over 50,000 people:

I was approached by the BBC to be interviewed on Newsnight to talk about what it’s like being a working mum struggling to pay rent and housing costs. Of course I was happy to do it, being a working mum is something I’m proud of. It hasn’t always been plain sailing. But I did not expect to be personally scrutinised, have judgements made about my choices and asked why I chose to have my child – a beautiful, sociable and happy three year old girl. I have done my best for her and wanted to bring her up independently. But the BBC has humiliated me and I want them to apologise for portraying me and my family in this way.

It took Newsnight more than three months to broadcast an apology for creating the entirely false impression Shanene Thorpe was unemployed, entirely dependent on benefits and living off the state as a lifestyle choice.

Stay tuned for Tory Telly every day.

Posted: 9th, October 2020 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink