North, South, East, West

I am indebted to Laban Tall’s “UK Commentators” Blog which features this post regarding the brutal and chilling racist murder of 15 year old Kriss Donald. For those who don’t know (which included me prior to reading this blog), the murder occurred last March in Glasgow when 5 Asian males went looking for a white male who matched the description of the offender in a bottle attack the previous evening. They found Kriss, who was standing with friends when he was forcibly abducted, driven to a remote spot, held down over a log and stabbed thirteen times before being set alight whilst still alive. The news reports make truly horrifying reading.

Why has this story not been headline news across the national media? Tall argues that the media in general, and the BBC, Independent and Guardian in particular, along with Trevor Phillips, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Refugee Council would have made this incident a major story if it had been an example of white males murdering an Asian teenager. However, as the victim is a “Native Brit”, Tall says

“don’t look for : blanket coverage on the Today programme, Radio 5 and TV news, op-eds in all newspapers, memorial stones, community centres or new colleges, Commissions of Enquiry, official reports, consultations with the Home Secretary, police confessions of incompetence, resignations, High Court Judges asking why the suspects escaped justice, compensation for the victims parents or changes to police and court procedures.”

We shall see how some of this turns out but you can certainly see where Tall is coming from. There often seems to be an assumption that only non-whites are victims of racism, and indeed that anti-racist measures and legislation are only there to benefit non-whites. If the media are happy not to cover this murder in depth, then they leave a gap which the BNP will be only too happy to fill. Regarding Tall’s particular singling out of the liberal media, however; shocked at what I read in Tall’s post I decided to do a quick “Google News” search for stories related to Kriss’s murder, and I found that while there was in fact a great deal of coverage of this case, the story was similarly ignored by the right-wing media. There was, though, extensive coverage in the Glasgow Evening Times, The Scotsman, the Daily Record, STV, ic Scotland and the BBC (Scotland). Disgracefully, other than the BNP, no non-Scottish organisation thought this story merited a mention, at least according to the search I carried out. I wonder, therefore if this is infact an example of pro-English bias on the part of the “National” media? It certainly won’t be the first example; as someone who is a half-Scottish Northerner perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this sort of thing, but often the National media is anything but National in outlook. A minor, everyday example is the way Morrisons is always referred to as the “Northern supermarket chain”, but Waitrose is never referred to as “Southern”. Similarly, a few years ago, the massive snowstorms which descended on the Eastern side of Britain only became a top news story when they hit London.

Now I am not going to dwell on this North-South thing for too long because I hate it. As a Mancunian, I personally think that London is probably my second favourite city in the world (after Barcelona), and I would happily holiday in Cornwall every year if I could. And you won’t hear me going on about how much friendlier us Northerners are than soft Southerners, because from personal experience that is total bollocks. However, even allowing for my own bias, there does often seem to be a pro-England/South East/London thing going on in the media.

Whether this is the reason for the tragedy of Kriss Donald’s murder being ignored, or whether the reason is double standards regarding white victims of racism, or indeed if it is a mix of the two, I do not know for sure. However you look at it, though, our National media has let us down. I will have to follow the Scottish media to see how the case progresses.

Update 18/11/04: Man guilty of Kriss race murder