‘It’s only south-east London, it doesn’t matter’, part 1

At the risk of developing an almighty chip on this blog’s imaginary shoulder, I think it’s worth keeping a collective eye out for the national media – and the media which claims to represent London – and its oh-so-hilarious misconceptions about London’s glorious south-east.

Laziness, inaccuracy – let’s keep an eye out for it. Drop me a line if you spot any corkers.

bbcfail1. BBC News website – Mayor ‘neglecting inner London’
Not where I wanted to start. But it’s a prime example of something being knocked out from a press release without anyone noticing that the story’s actually complete bollocks.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has been accused of “neglecting” calls for a tube extension in inner London in favour of boroughs that voted for him.

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Streatham, said a Bakerloo line extension to Camberwell and Brixton should be considered.

Mr Umunna said he had confirmation of plans to extend the line to Lewisham.

To Lewisham? “Outer London“? I’m sorry, has Mr Umunna looked at a map lately? Did anyone at BBC London before writing this?

And in the BBC’s own voice: In the mayoral election of May 2008 support for Mr Johnson was greatest in the outer boroughs such as Lewisham and Bromley.

This is actually wrong – if you check the 2008 mayoral election results – and you’ll need to download these ward-level figures to see Lewisham on its own – you’ll see that Ken Livingstone comfortably won the poll in the borough of Lewisham. In fact, he – and Labour – also topped the poll in the complete Greenwich and Lewisham constituency, although you’ll see Greenwich narrowly favoured Boris if you break the figures down.

Mr Umunna said that meant the mayor was now devoting more resources to their needs – while neglecting working class inner London boroughs such as Lambeth and Southwark, where more Labour supporters live.

Except that if you drew a map from the Elephant and Castle, where the Bakerloo Line currently ends, to Lewisham, which borough do you pass through? That’s right – Southwark! In fact, you may even pass under Camberwell on the way – in fact, you probably would, because the Bakerloo’s tunnels already extend a fair distance that way anyway, as a result of a pre-war plan which later got binned.

So we can probably agree that Chuka Umunna is a bit of a doughnut. Or, as the story would sadly have it, “donut”. But what the hell is Mr Umunna on about? Probably a little-reported study into extending the line to Hayes, near Bromley. Ah, now that’s more like Boris country. But where he – and BBC London – get this idea from that Lewisham is some kind of Tory stronghold is beyond me. Perhaps the voters of Streatham should be warned they’ve a man in place to be their next MP who doesn’t seem to have the first clue about the capital, and is quite happy to run down other bits of south London just to get himself a cheap bit of publicity.

2. The Guardian – Let’s move to… Deptford
After having found Greenwich to be “tubeless”, the Guardian’s rubbish property column moves a few feet west to SE8 to patronise the locals.

Apparently, now Deptford is “drowning in creative juices”. They’ve only just noticed? It’s another weird piece – no mention of the market, while apparently, people should look “eastwards” to live there, when I think he actually means “southwards”, towards St John’s station. But then again… “You’ll have to heft up the hill to Greenwich Park and Blackheath for a blade of grass.” Not Brookmill Park? Deptford Park? Or, if we’re talking St John’s, you’re a stone’s throw from Hilly Fields, which is a terrific spot.

Perhaps too much effort to research that. Maybe next time.


  1. Presumably these are the same media-types whose grating pronunciation includes the classics “El-Tham” and “Errith.” Keep up the good fight.

  2. Chuck really ought to know better. Boris isn’t planning on extending the tube network anywhere, be it Bromley, Southwark or Dagenham, so to single out Lewisham for special treatment just smacks of selfishness.

    Still, London’s politicians do seem to be extremely good at squeezing an angry ill-informed press release out of absolutely nothing.

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