Has the South London Press written the most robust leader column ever?

A local paper set a new standard for robust leader columns — suggesting readers who had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 of behaving as recklessly as dangerous drivers ‘who haven’t passed their tests and are in cars with no brakes.’

The South London Press published its strongly-worded editorial in the final edition of 2021, arguing that the ‘sheer number of people not looking after their loved ones is staggering.’

The paper, which has published across South London for 150 years, drew on wartime references too — saying parents and grandparents who had lived through the blitz would not have tolerated what is going on today.

“If drivers zoomed around without passing their tests, in cars with no brakes and Roman-chariot style spikes on their hubcapts, they’d be quickly slayed,” the paper told readers.

“It doesn’t taken an Einstein to know travelling on busy streets in a death trap is horrendous behaviour.

“It should therefore be shocking that a third of Lambeth residents have not been vaccinated against Covid — and another third have not had their booster.

“Because those people are taking just as much risk with the lives of their families, friends and colleagues as those drivers. Their recklessness is just not as visible.”

The paper went on to point out that there wasn’t a strong anti-vaxx movement in the borough, but that dis-information had been rife at the start of the pandemic.

Calling on readers to get their jabs, and then their booster jab, the paper urged: “We are all in this together — the killer infection can be heedlessly passed on so easily, even to someone in the same bus queue.

“So the sheer numbers not looking after their loved ones is staggering. It’s not what our parents and grandparents would have stood for in the Blitz.

“Next time you see someone slashing through the Blue or East Street Market with a Samurai sword, murdering and maiming in their path, would you do nothing but watch? Of course not.

“But too many are walking our streets blatantly endangering others, armed with an invisible killer.”

For journalists schooled in writing leader columns which avoid causing offence, the SLP’s broadside is certainly an eye-opener. But in the current situation, maybe the times call for such a drastic statement?

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here

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The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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