Over the weekend The Daily Mail had a double-page spread entitled, “A Breath of fresh air” about the wonders of Doncaster’s new “superMayor”, Peter Davies. Alarm bells started to ring at this, because that’s a name I recognised instantly: It’s the chap who made such a tit of himself on Radio Sheffield not too long ago!
The Mail starts with a few vague, populist facts about Mr Davies. He has a “contempt for diversity”. He’s “gloriously un-PC”. He’s a “keen devotee of the birch and the noose“. Of course, in the real world, this translates as narrow-minded, intolerant, and authoritarian, but in the Mail they’re treated as the greatest of virtues.
But let’s take a closer look at some of the claims the Mail makes for their new hero.
Firstly, he’s said to be “deeply sceptical of green claptrap”, and promises to put an end to bus-only routes in an attempt to get more traffic on his roads. He states proudly, “we live in the age of the car”. And, I suppose, when one doesn’t believe in the harmful effects of Co2 or global warming, there’s no reason not to encourage traffic congestion.
Next is the claim I hope to rip apart most thoroughly. “He has scrapped all future funding for Doncaster’s annual Gay Pride event”, Mail writer Robert Hardman happily expounds. Now, fortunately, I don’t have to do much of the initial ripping-apart here; in his interview with Radio Sheffield, which I linked to above, comedian Toby Foster does it for me. The bit I’m talking about is a little far in (about 5 mins in, I think), so I’ll give the glorious transcript;
Toby Foster: “You’re gonna cut the Gay Pride funding?”
Peter Davies: “Yup”.
TF: “Erm… how much does Doncaster council fund Gay Pride?”
PD: “Haven’t got a clue, haven’t looked into it, haven’t got the details, haven’t even started”.
TF: “Right… so how much was it worth Doncaster?”
PD: “How… how much… what?”
TF: “Gay Pride march. Eight thousand people in town for a day”.
PD: “…I dunno, they can still come, nobody’s stopping them coming…”
TF: “So you don’t know what it costs, don’t know what it earns, but you’re bangin’ it”.
PD: “…I’m saying… that hard-pressed taxpayer’s money should not be spent on promoting any type of sexuality, whether it’s straight or gay”.
TF: “But… but for all you know, it could be making a fortune for the town, you don’t know, you haven’t looked into it”.
PD: “Well… it may, or it may not”.
I think we can safely say that eight thousand people in town for a day, if Toby Foster’s guestimation is accurate, are worth a great deal to Doncaster. What rounds off the hilarity is that, once the new mayor actually did get hold of the details… he did a U-turn. He decided to fund the events he said he wouldn’t. Not only does that piss all over his manifesto (and the claims the Daily Mail made in his favour), but it also suggests that Toby Foster was probably right on the money when he said that the march was worth more than it cost.
By the way, the man made similar promises about getting rid of International Women’s Day and Black History Day. I expect he’ll face similar barriers (eg, logic) with them.
Anyway, I’ve dwelled on that for long enough. There’s another claim the Daily Heil makes for the new mayor that needs some mauling. And that’s about his promise to ban council translation services, on the basis that people should be encouraged to speak English (for ‘encouraged’, see ‘forced’). The problem with this pledge is a simple one: it is downright illegal, under the European Court of Human Rights, as Foster points out. But that’s ignoring the questionable logic of encouraging people to learn a new language by withdrawing their access to translation services.
Finally, we come to Robert Hardman’s claim that Mr Davies has the support of “around a third of the town”, according to a random street survey. “A further third are in the wait-and-see camp, and the remaining third have no idea what I am talking about. No one, though, is anti-Davies”, states Hardman. This is dubious from the start, considering Davies’ attempt to scrap celebrations that are in any way linked to gay, black or female people. Taking a quick look on Facebook, the biggest pro-Davies group features just over 370 members, whereas the group entitled “protest against Doncaster’s new mayor Peter Davies: What have we done?” has 1,380. I’d like to see the source of statistics the Mail has used in its research in Doncaster.
Altogether, the Mail has here managed to lionise a man on the basis of impossible, illegal policies, a cash-saving plan that costs more than it saves, and a manifesto he has already reneged on. The Mail seems desperate for heroes, to say the least.