NUJ boss 'more left wing than Gilchrist'

Dear: scathing attack by outgoing CIoJ president

Chartered Institute of Journalists president Andy Smith has used his farewell speech to make a scathing attack on long-term rival the NUJ.

Smith compared NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear to the leader of the Fire Brigades Union and accused him of “making Andy Gilchrist look like a Blairite”.

He also castigated the NUJ for blocking the institute’s application to join the International Federation of Journalists, thereby denying CIoJ members the right to an international press card. He claimed this meant the NUJ had a de facto monopoly in both Britain and Ireland.

“We all thought the closed shop was dead,” said Smith, “but the NUJ has reintroduced it for any journalists seeking international press accreditation.”

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit joined the newly elected president of the CIoJ, Stuart Notholt, in attacking political correctness and the “misuse” of language in Britain’s news media.

Speaking to an audience of CIoJ members at the Reform Club in London, Tebbit urged journalists to reject political correctness in favour of “open, honest and vigorous debate”. But he blamed “timid” politicians, including members of his own party, for allowing PC language and ideas to take hold in Britain by default.

Notholt said that political correctness was an insidious process that was taking Britain in “a totalitarian direction”. He referred to the arrest of journalist and Daily Telegraph contributor Robin Page, who had asked why minorities such as foxhunters were denied the same rights and legal protection as ethnic minorities, as an example of how “even the police had become susceptible to absurd political correctness and anti-racism”.

Making his inaugural speech as president, Notholt also condemned the tendency towards the “tyranny of statistics” in modern Britain.

“The old adage about lies, damned lies, and statistics has never been truer than today,” he said. “We are awash with targets, quotas, league tables and key performance indicators – and yet the daily experience of many of our fellow citizens is of rapidly declining public services.”

In a time of weak official opposition to the Government, it was up to the news media to ask searching questions, he suggested.

By Jon Slattery

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