interview with The Hackney Citizen

On Saturday a young man was shot in London Fields, caught in the cross-fire of what can safely be assumed to be a gang related confrontation. The shooting took place during a community festival.

In an uncanny echo of the “Day Today” “Dead Pigeon” sketch, Jules Pipe (the elected New Labour Mayor of Hackney) pointed out: “Despite this very worrying incident, hundreds of people were able to enjoy the event in London Fields safely.”

Sensing the opportunity to seize the crown for crass comments relating to this tragedy, Hackney Citizen has leapt into the breach with an absolutely toe-curling piece by Morag McKeown .

Like many middle class people, McKeown seems particularly vexed by gentrification and middle class people’s role in it. She is also concerned with the plight of poor people, from a bizarrely tabloid anthropological angle:

Hackney is home to some of the worst housing in the country. Slums. Families squashed into tiny houses, damp riddled, stacked up like criminals in estates full of drugs, intimidation and fear. The women try to keep clean, the fathers try to stay clean and the kids run around like toy soldiers marking their small bits of territory with drugs, guns and violence. They put the edge in Hackney.

As someone who has spent a fair bit of time on the estates around London Fields, I find this “ghetto-glamourising” particularly annoying.

I left a comment on the site, and harangued the Citizen on twitter:

Why have you published this nonsense?

Hi John we hoped the piece would stimulate debate, please post your criticisms of it on the site. many thanks, keith [direct message to johnedenuk]

Would you a publish piece saying all the middle class blokes in new flats nr London Fields were coke heads who beat their wives? For debate? [direct message to HackneyCitizen]

Hi John no we wouldn’t, but the piece doesn’t make inferences about all individuals in a given situatiion. best, keith [direct message to johnedenuk]

It makes that inference about people who live in “slums” in the 3rd para. [direct message to HackneyCitizen]

Hi John we’d be happy to consider publishing a counter argument to the piece. best, keith [direct message to johnedenuk]

As someone who lives on an estate, I have no desire to be associated with you if you publish stuff like that. Putting it politely. [direct message to HackneyCitizen]

Perhaps unsurprisingly no further response was received. I daresay Keith feels very threatened having unwittingly communicated with someone who lives on an estate, who is no doubt typing with one hand and brandishing a crack pipe and firearm in the other.

An estate, near London Fields, earlier today.

Direct messages on Twitter are private. I wouldn’t usually publish direct messages publicly like this. But I figured I might as well in this case, not least because Hackney Citizen was recently in bother itself for reproducing an allegedly private phone call between Hackney Tory Mayoral candidate Andrew Boff and a Hackney Council call centre.

At the time of writing, Jules Pipe had just issued a revised statement. The victim of the shooting is described as being in a “serious but stable condition”.

Meanwhile I am sure that Hackney Citizen is very pleased with the “debate” that McKeown’s piece has generated – 32 outraged and knee jerk comments… and counting.

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