Note to the Telegraph: Green MEP is not an avid bee keeper


Molly Scott Cato MEP – not an “avid bee keeper”

I was pleasantly surprised to see in today’s Daily Telegraph (not the natural bedfellows of The Green Party) an article that seriously examined the idea that the 2015 General Elections will be a ‘5 horse race’. It wasn’t long however before I started to spot the usual stereotyping that blights so much of the media coverage of the Green Party.

As a precursor to the rest of this blog it is worth highlighting the notable rise in quality media coverage the Greens have enjoyed over the last 6 months. This is, at least in part, thanks to the recently re-elected leader Natalie Bennett, who worked as a journalist including a number of years as an editor at The Guardian.

And yet it still feels like they are fighting an up-hill battle at every turn.

Using this latest Telegraph article as a case in point…The article is generally positive towards the Greens highlighting 7 reasons why they will be a major factor in May 2015’s General Election and yet a patronising whiff exists over the article and manifests itself in the smallest of details.

Take for example the section on last May’s European elections:

While Mr Clegg’s party lost 10 out of 11 MEPs, the Greens not only held their two seats but added a third – Molly Scott Cato, an avid beekeeper who became the party’s first ever South West MEP.

Why on earth would Ben Riley-Smith, the author of the article, choose ‘an avid beekeeper’ as a description for Molly rather than say, ‘a published economics author’ or ‘a former district councillor’ or ‘a former Professor of Economics’…?

This was a point that earlier today I raised on twitter copying in Molly Scott Cato MEP.

Her response just makes this point even more remarkable:

Curious. Not only did Riley-Scott choose the frankly bizarre description of ‘an avid bee keeper’ to describe this acclaimed author and academic but, bizarrely, this then turns out to be a complete falsehood anyway.

I then googled ‘Molly Scott Cato beekeeper’ to see where this apparent myth might have come from and sure enough, it appears in a number of other media outlets from the BBC (including the pun ‘making a buzz of her own’) to our local rag the Gloucestershire Citizen.

As Molly said in her tweet… #stereotypes.

This type of lazy stereotyping by the press perpetuates the myth that Greens are only interested in the environment. Even when an economist is elected the media look to describe her in outdated environmental terms.

This is in turn reinforces the perception of voters that Greens do address the issues that most concern them. Of course the irony is that ‘the economy’ consistently tops the list of issues concerning voters and yet journalists, like Riley-Scott, think it more pertinent to mention a completely made-up hobby of Molly’s rather than the fact that she is acclaimed economist!

Things are improving for the Greens in terms of media coverage but to say this is an uphill battle is an understatement.


Filed under Climate Change, EU politics, Gloucestershire, Politics

5 responses to “Note to the Telegraph: Green MEP is not an avid bee keeper

  1. Claire

    It’s disappointing that stereotyping still continues. Our local paper had a story about extending the 20mph zone (which of course is a road safety issue as much as anything) but to judge from the comments you can tell people think, oh it’s the Greens, must be about air pollution and comments include ‘you ought to be campaigning against diesel’ which makes me wonder if petrol cars don’t hurt so much if you’re hit by one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Could it be that Molly is an avid *bookkeeper*? A long shot, I know. Not many bookkeepers are “avid”, but you never know.


  3. Reblogged this on rationaldebate and commented:
    Thanks, Steve, I couldn’t have put it better myself. It just goes to show that we have to be ever vigilant, checking everything and countering the myths and rumours wherever we find them.


  4. I think it is your duty to find out who first put it out there that Molly Scott Cato Keeps Bees.

    Also, any time you refer to a politician on this blog in future, perhaps you could make up a favourite pastime for them?

    “John Prescott, an avid fan of Borussia Monchengladbach, said recently…”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was having a similar conversation with Green London AM Darren Johnson earlier today on twitter – random made up hobbies or interests. Russell Gowers, famous for his dislike of jelly, commented….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s