Sunday, January 15, 2017

How the Daily Mail makes our green and pleasant land into a moral refuse tip

I could have chosen a hundred or more (many more) tabloid  front pages to make my point. Which is that thanks to those who finance and deliver this sort of illiberal, slanted, narrow, selfish garbage we have declined visibly as a nation.Not just from the fact that our citizens in large numbers read this stuff. But because it is far worse these days than it used to be and it has far greater effect.

The disaster of Brexit was in strong part a consequence of lies and biased half-truths spread by the tabloids. Every day there was a new edition and a new front page. 

That most of the headlines and the stories were patently untrue, as in the example above, became habitual. And that they appealed to prejudice hardly needs to be stated. There is a strong anti-EU Islamaphobia in Britain. Even though the EU has almost nothing to do with Islam and there are very few Muslims in Britain here as a consequence of the EU's "Freedom of Movement" rules. (British Muslims are, of course, overwhelmingly of New Commonwealth origins (from Pakistan and Bangladesh etc.) A week or so before the EU Referendum  a man in Teddington High Street said within my hearing that he would be voting "Leave" because there are "too many ****** Muslims here already". There was a similar interview on Charlie Brooker's BBC look back on 2016. The canard that Turkey was going to join the EU and that, as the Daily Mail put it "1.5m Turks were coming to Britain" was an influence in the Referendum outcome. Think about this for a minute. Something that was patently untrue. Something that was promoted by the tabloid press. Something that was openly bigoted and biased. Something that appealed to prejudice and to xenophobia. That (maybe crucially) led to Britain quitting the European Union.

The British Government has its policy decided by public opinion and that public opinion is substantially influenced by the tabloids. "Freedom of Movement" within the EU is characterised as "Immigration" by the tabloids and for a British Government (or Opposition) to be seen as supporting immigration is the kiss of death. (The fact that the indivisible “Four Freedoms” - the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people - have been overwhelmingly positive for Britain as with the rest of the EU member nations is ignored because one of the freedoms is seen as "immigration").

So our Government policy is being driven by lies and prejudice, by ignorance and bigotry. Few politicians have the balls to stand up for the Four Freedoms and those that do – Anna Soubry, Ken Clarke, Tim Farron and a few others – become tabloid targets. And all of us, including these courageously honest people, become the targets of the Mail and the rest:

Back to today’s Mail front page at the top of this Blog. This is classic stuff. The Hard Right is against Britain’s admirable Overseas Aid policies. So they invent and idea that if we cut Aid we could rescue the NHS (Does this sound familiar?). Its utter offensive nonsense of course but it will be believed. Again.  And there you have an example of how low we have sunk. Ignorant. Selfish. Nationalist. Xenophobic. Brutal. Not all of us of course. Probably nor even a majority of us. But sufficient of us to change this green and pleasant land into a refuse tip. And that hurts.


Friday, January 06, 2017

The threat of Fascism

The above was about Trump and the USA. But closer to home it rings alarm bells. 

(1)  Brexit is an overtly Nationalist proposition which turns its back on internationalism and predicates "Taking back control". The proposal to withdraw from the "European Court of Human Rights" is equally Nationalist as are the planned restrictions on Freedom of Movement and many other plans of the May Government.

(2) See (1)

(3) The European Union as a body and our current) 27 partners along with EU citizens working in Britain are among the many scapegoats of the current Government stance.

(4) The military is given a sentimental gloss , both retrospective and current, way above its real status as a Defence Force.

(5) The  glass ceiling is still in place and the Right has no plans to make significant change to the roles and rewards of women.

(6) Elements of the Mass Media are firmly under control of the Government/Media. The Telegraph, Mail, Sun and Express are under Right Wing control and considerable untrammelled power still exists despite Leveson. Some would argue that the BBC tows the Government line too often.

(7) The genuine threats from terrorism have brought bombastic rhetoric and threats of restrictions to liberty.

(8) The Prime Minister has played the God card more than once and she is clearly of the "We are a Christian country" mind-set. Some on the Right are calling for more social conservatism.

(9) There are continued paeans to capitalism from many on the Right and the Business sectors are being rewarded by the promise of less regulation and  more freedoms.

(10) There is an overt and determined anti-Union rhetoric and action underway.

(11) Intellectuals are condemned by senior Conservatives who decry experts and expertise. The Arts is characterised as "Luvvie" and its public funding is being severely cut.

(12) The swing to harsher prison sentences and punishment rather than helping criminals not to re-offend is the norm.

(13) The Honours Lists and the appointment of cronies to sinecures continue unabated under Theresa May.

(14) No plans to reform a not fit for purpose electoral system exist and the "EU Referendum" is held up as an example of democracy at work - which it certainly was not.