What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension?

I know it is not news to anyone that the Daily Mail is staggeringly hypocritical, but sometimes it is just worth repeating because they do something like this:


Phil Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: ‘[embarking] on a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to “make the white folk angry” enough to vote for him.’ The Daily Mail is appalled at the fact  ‘that while he was stirring up racial ill-feeling against his rival, Phil Woolas was the minister in charge of immigration’.

It it worth mentioning at this point that Minority Thought and Primly Stable have already covered this story and they both move in the same direction here, the only direction possible, and that is to point out the Daily Mail’s own record of running ‘a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to ‘make the white folk angry’. Minority Thought puts forward the smears of Nick Clegg during the election campaign in which the Daily Mail asked: ‘Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?’ Minority Thought then moves on to the recent announcement of a proposed strike on Bonfire Night by the Fire Brigades Union, to which the Daily Mail responded by rooting through the bins of union general secretary Matt Wrack; as well as knocking the doors of various family members to dig for dirt.

Both Minority Thought and Primly Stable give a few examples of the Mail’s efforts to stir up racial tension, but in reality one would need an encyclopedic memory to recall all of them, and it would make this blog post as long as the entire archive to list them. I’ll attempt to pick out a few of their more disgraceful efforts anyway, just to ram the point home that the Mail can hardly criticise a few leaflets, when it has thousands of newspaper editions doing far worse – under the current editor, Paul Dacre, so no excuses.

First of all, the Daily Mail repeatedly repeats the myth that immigrants and asylum seekers rush to the top of social housing lists at the expense of local, white folk. In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing that the BBC summed-up thus:

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says.Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…

“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.

“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”

Most major news sources – including tabloid newspapers – reported this finding: ITN: Immigrant housing priority ‘a myth’; Guardian: Claims that immigrants prioritised for social housing ‘a myth’; The Independent: Study ‘ends myth’ of housing for immigrants; The Daily Telegraph: Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows. Even the Daily Express headline is refreshingly accurate (even if they still shout it):  IMMIGRANTS ‘DON’T TOP HOUSING LIST’.

Accept, of course, the Daily Mail, who instead took a different angle:

Daily Mail lies

This article ignored the main finding of the report in order to protect the Daily Mail narrative that immigrants were being treated better than ‘indigenous’ Brits, a narrative that fuels much of the BNP support as well as the rising militarism of the EDL. Just before the Daily Mail completely whitewashed the findings of this report they were still pushing the myth hard:

‘The “British homes for British workers” plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list’.

Just last month the Daily Mail were again repeating the myth by claiming that Birmingham City Council was putting ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first’. The implication was clear: all other councils were still putting asylum seekers at the top of the housing queue.

Or what about the annual claim that the majority of new born boys in the UK are called ‘Mohammed’? This year the Daily Mail’s coverage earned the first Five Chinese Crackers‘ ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award’, against some stiff competition given that every tabloid and some broadsheets were running with this myth. I’ll let 5CC take over:

Here’s why your version won:

  • It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
  • As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
  • Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
  • It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
  • It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.

Or how about the Daily Mail coverage of Winterval (again, they are not the only newspaper guilty of pushing this myth)? At first the banning of Christmas was aimed at the ‘PC brigade’ but the Mail has now realised it has a much better target: Muslims. The PC brigade were banning Christmas in case it offended Muslims. Councils, not content with giving them all the benefits and free houses denied to good old British white-folk, they were now ‘pandering’ to their ‘demands’.

This may seem a ludicrous idea, but it is believed by many, including the EDL whose leader, Stephen Lennon, recently threatened any council thinking of ‘pandering to Muslims’ in an interview with the Times:

He said that “reluctantly” he uses the threat of a demonstration as “blackmail” to ensure that councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions. “We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down.”

Who are these ‘Islamic pressure groups’? When has any Muslim ever wanted to ‘ban Christmas’? Phil Woolas used racial tensions to get re-elected, the Daily Mail use racial tensions to sell newspapers, whilst providing a stable diet of disinformation to bolster support and shape the ideology of right-wing extremists in the UK. Christmas has never been banned and councils have never renamed it. The myth has been debunked so many times it is worrying that a collection of adults believes it to such an extent they are writing to every council.

So, what is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? The tabloid press.

10 thoughts on “What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension?”

  1. Paul Dacre’s paper is hugely hypocritical. On the one hand, it provides fuel for groups like the EDL. On the other, when the EDL tour the country trailing disruption, bigotry and violence in their wake, The Mail pretends to hold it’s metaphorical hands up in horror whilst completely failing to take any responsibility for the monster it has helped create.

    The Mail says, “Oh, goodness, look at all these ruffians costing the taxpayers so much money. How dreadful!” The next day, “Muslims are stealing our money, our houses, our oxygen and giving us cancer into the bargain.” Double dealing hypocrites.

  2. um…so you’re telling us that Phil Woolas is ‘a deeply unpleasant man’ but the Mail isn’t allowed to report on the issue. So you’d rather news was censored than reported by a newspaper you don’t like.

    Also I missed the story about Muslims stealing our money , giving us cancer etc (and I pretty much read the Mail every day) so maybe someone could tell me where I can find this non-existent story ?

    I was always under the impression that the Mail was mostly read by middle-aged middle-class women. Um..this is also presumably the core membership of the EDL isn’t it?

    1. @ Karlo, the point I was making is that I don’t want racist newspaper moaning about someone else being racist without addressing their own inherent racism. It’s incredibly hypocritical and completely overlooks why their is underlying racial tensions in the first place.

      As for Muslims stealing all our money, have you really read the Daily Mail properly? I think you’ll find plenty of racially divisive reporting on Muslims. Even if you just look at the cartoons you cannot escape the fact.

      As for the Daily Mail not being targeted at EDL members, that is not the point, the Daily Mail legitimises their core beliefs by reporting that the Muslims really are trying to take over – writers such as Melanie Philips who writes constantly about the rise of Sharia Law and Islamic banking and so on, perfectly fitting in with the EDL delusion.

  3. ‘the Daily Mail legitimises their core beliefs by reporting that the Muslims really are trying to take over’ – sounds like another non-existent story I missed today.(You do know the difference between opinion and fact don’t you?)

    Given that the Mail is so anti-muslim perhaps you could tell me why the family of Ekram Haque gave a long interview to the Mail and allowed the reporter to speak to his young granddaughter.

    um..Melanie Phillips writes constantly about Sharia Law and Islamic Banking, does she? – not today she didn’t. Perhaps you could tell me how often she has referred to either issue in the past six months?

    Have you ever considered that the Mail’s only agenda is to sell as many newspapers and as much advertising space as possible and that um…some of the Angry Mob that read it:
    1) aren’t really all that angry and
    2)do actually possess the ability to think for themselves now and again

  4. @karlo: Here are a few examples of EDL members reactions to Mail stories:

    http://pressnotsorry.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/mail-incites-religious-hatred/ Mail incites religious hatred

    http://pressnotsorry.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/mail-confuses-burqa-with-hijab-and-provokes-alarming-diatribe/ Mail confuses burqa with hijab and provokes alarming diatribe

    http://pressnotsorry.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/how-media-misinformation-distorts-accepted-truth/ How media misinformation distorts accepted truth

    Scroll down to the screenshots on these posts and have a look at the effect these unbalanced stories have.

  5. @ Primly Stable
    – how many times has she mentioned Sharia Law or Islamic Banking in the Daily Mail in the past six months? (here’s a clue – it’s less than 1)

    -how many of your 36 articles were in the Daily Mail?

    -how many articles in total has she written in the past six years (then we can work out what percentage of them are about sharia law)?

    -Are all the articles you cite actually about sharia law or are most of them similar to her 2004 article on the Sudan (when it would have been strange not to mention sharia law but the focus of the article was on human tragedy)?

    um…if we just count the number of articles that contain a key word or phrase -then I’m afraid Sharia law pales beside the likes of the NHS with 59 mentions, Tony Blair with over 100 and as for references to ‘sex’ – too many to count (the woman’s obsessed- or she would be if that’s what the articles were really about)

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