Monday, 27 February 2017

Self-styled ‘Selfie Queen’ or Publicity Seeker?

by Les May
I live in Rochdale.  It’s not difficult to find people eager to give you their opinion about our very own self-styled ‘Selfie Queen’, Karen Danczuk formerly Karen Burke.  Older people, and especially older ladies, tend to be less than impressed by her past enthusiasm for flaunting her cleavage.  Those of a political bent use words like ‘deluded’ when talking about her pretensions to becoming an MP and point to her not altogether successful spell as a local councillor when she gained a reputation for being less than assiduous in attending to some of her duties.

But never have I come across anyone, nor do I expect to, who would suggest that vandalising her car, or indeed any of her property, is acceptable behaviour.

You do not have to be one of her Twitter followers to empathise with Karen over the problem of damage to her car. But that does not preclude us from taking a closer look at this story.

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She is quoted as saying:
'Since trial I've had five attacks on car (slashed tyres, diesel, nails, paintwork) I'm sure its coincidence but remember, I travel with two boys.'

'These attacks are either linked to the trial or a sheer coincidence. They are clearly targeted at me for whatever reason and I can only speculate. 
'But these incidents are another example of why victims are too scared to come forward.  I want to remind these people that I travel with two young boys and it is putting their lives in danger as well as my own life.' 

Now no one can object to the last of these four statements.  It is manifestly true. But when I read the first three I began to wonder if we were not seeing here the beginnings of a narrative into which every subsequent happening could be fitted.   
Why mention ‘the trial’?  
Why mention a link to ‘the trial’?
Why write ‘these incidents are another example of why victims are too scared to come forward’?

I have seen this tactic adopted before.  It is what I complained about in 2014 in my Amazon review of her ex-husband’s now discredited book ‘Smile for the Camera’ where I wrote ‘The writing style adopted is to let the narrative drive the evidence not the evidence drive the narrative.’
The problems which arise when this approach to story telling is adopted are highlighted by the fact that when Northamptonshire police investigated one of the stories in ex-husband Simon’s book it was found to have no basis in fact.

A good story was enough to get it a place in the book because it fitted into the narrative the authors had constructed for Cyril Smith.

Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, ended up asking for an apology from Danczuk and said ‘Everything in that book's got to be evidence-led and -based, otherwise you are alerting people to the wrong information.’

Until such time as the police arrest someone, he or she is convicted of damaging Karen’s car and shown to have done it because they were disgruntled about the outcome of ‘the trial’ I see no reason to fall in line with Karen’s narrative.

It’s not the first time she has tried to construct a narrative which suits the image of herself she is keen to project. She tried to pull off the same trick in January when on ‘Good Morning Britain’ the story was that her ‘prolific use of social media is 100% linked to being abused as a child’. Evidence for this? None! Just a bit of wishful thinking.

And how about the two year old story from February 2015, ‘Selfie-mad councillor Karen Danczuk is auctioning herself off this Valentine's day’?  What’s her excuse, sorry explanation, for this bit of self publicity? Or the story of a similar vintage which informs us that on first meeting her Harriet Harman told her 'You're too pretty to be interested in politics and should be in Girls Aloud'

Karen’s attempts to construct a narrative to project a particular image of herself will not doubt continue.   But we don’t have to buy into it.  The findings of the court stand because they have been tested under our adversarial system of justice.  What Karen is quoted as saying in the media and what she posts on Twitter have not, so we are free to believe as much or as little as we like.

She seems to me not to have ‘waived her right to anonymity’, but to have massacred it.  A figure of about £20,000 was mentioned in court for a newspaper story from 2015 almost two years before the verdict. It was no doubt coincidence that this story came out at much the same time as the ‘Valentine dinner’ and the Harman story.  Whether the spate of post trial media stories have been a ‘nice little earner’ I don’t know, but I cannot help having noticed how often the images which accompany them are attributed to agencies which are not unknown to the Danczuk duo.

If Karen has any serious pretensions to a career in politics she will stop trying to be famous and aiming to be a celebrity, drop her smart phone in the canal and get a proper job.
I’m not holding my breath.

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