Over the past few weeks a gift company wrote a terrible piece advertising “hate breaks” to undesirable locations including Moss Side in my constituency. I was horrified to see an area that I represent described in such an offensive way and was shocked to read that the company had even made up reviews to reinforce their false and unpleasant view of the area.
The description of Moss Side is one that I completely reject as the MP for that area and is one that nobody from Manchester would recognise today. I can only imagine that the person responsible for writing the piece has never visited so I contacted the author to invite them to visit for themselves and see how inappropriate and inaccurate the piece was.
I very quickly received a reply from the Buy a Gift company who were responsible for the article apologising and promising to take it down. Here is a quote from their reply to me,
“Just to let you know the piece has been removed, Buyagift had not intended to offend anybody and it was there was no malice in its creation at all. We deeply regret that we have upset people, and as such, we have taken it all down from our site.
Below is a statement from our spokesperson:
"We recently wrote and published a spoof article called Hate Breaks. The piece was intended to be a light-hearted take on some of the more controversial locations for a romantic break. This article was meant to be taken as a joke but we realise now that the article was in bad taste.”
“We have removed the article from our website and we apologise unreservedly for any offence this piece has caused."
I find it incredible that the person responsible for this article would not see that it was obviously offensive and I think it is unacceptable to use false reviews to reinforce a negative stereotype about an area.
After I received this reply I thought that the issue was over but it reappeared last week when AOL online chose to repeat the ridiculous review as part of a travel write up. I am appalled at this lazy journalism and that another source would choose to repeat such a negative piece with no regard for the truth. I contacted AOL to ask them to urgently remove the offending piece. Here is a quote from their response
“Thank you for your email about the Buyagift list of places to avoid, which was forwarded to me. We are very sorry to have caused any offence with this article: this was never our intention and we have now removed the piece from our site. We have indeed visited Manchester and agree that it is a fabulous city (we're planning on running a piece on the best things about Manchester in the near future).”
I am glad that the piece has been removed but it is clear that neither should ever have been written in the first place.
Manchester and Moss Side in particular has undergone a complete transformation and is an area which residents are proud to live in. Whilst organisations may think that pieces like this are humorous and good for business; as well as being false, they are extremely offensive to the community they misrepresent and cause lasting damage long after the exercise has disappeared.
For more information: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/moss-side-hate-break-website-7140075