Not Even the Daily Mail can Defend Conservative Policies

The founder of the Daily Mail – Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe – started the Daily Mail as a nationalistic newspaper designed to stand ‘for the power, the supremacy and the greatness of the British Empire’. David Lloyd George referred to Northcliffe as ‘one of the biggest intriguers and most unscrupulous people in the country’ and earned the wrath of Northcliffe and the Daily Mail when he refused Northcliffe’s list of people who should be in his new government.

When the Daily Mail wants a certain outcome it isn’t afraid to dispense with even the vaguest pretence of being a newspaper and is happy to become a propaganda machine for the Conservative Party. Just look at the attacks against the Liberal Democrats:

The political process requires an active, questioning and investigative press. What it doesn’t need it a newspaper offering up dishonest attacks aimed at discrediting one political party in favour of another. The Daily Mail has consistently attacked Gordon Brown, but never to the extent that Clegg is now being attacked, largely because Brown was never perceived as a real threat. Cameron and the Conservatives have pretty much escaped scrutiny. Even when the Daily Mail reports that London is the most unequal city in the Western world with the top 10% being worth a staggering 273 times more than the poorest 10% they do not mention Conservative plans to scrap the 50p tax rate for those top earners, nor do they mention the scrapping of the ‘mansion tax’. Yet any other issue is immediately linked in some way to the Liberal Democrats, even though they haven’t been in power for so long they couldn’t possibly have caused or contributed to any of the current problems.

This election does bring hope of real change, and perhaps a belief that power can reside outside of either Labour or the Conservatives. The Conservatives were voted out of office in 1997 in a landslide of utter disgust, and Labour are facing a similar defeat in this election. However, it would be strange to hand the reins back to the Conservatives when they are no better than the shower of elitist shit that was dispensed with and rejected so overwhelmingly in 1997.

The Daily Mail know the Conservatives cannot win the election through policies – as their policies are only going to benefit the richest 6% – and David Cameron seems insistent on not actually discussing on elaborating on policy, just an endless stream of meaningless soundbites. They know that they cannot polish an electoral turd or sell the Conservatives as a great hope. So they do what they know best: discredit, bully, attack, lie, skewer and most importantly ramp up as much fear as possible so that people are scared into voting Conservative as the lesser evil.

I wonder if this time it will work, as surely there must be a backlash against being told who to vote for by a newspaper that – outside of its ignorant readership – is universally reviled and hated? Only time will tell, but I sincerely hope people vote for the policies they agree with, not vote for the person that the Daily Mail tells them to.

A PR Disaster for the Daily Mail

The trouble with Party Politics is that you have to try to ram everything into your agenda whether it fits or not. This is true for individuals with an political allegiance as well as newspapers. Often the constant pressure of looking for things that embarrass your political enemies leads to pretty pathetic stories.

The Daily Mail are pretty susceptible to attacking Gordon Brown, even when it appears that the attack is utterly pathetic. This article for instance: ‘Help for a hero: Another PR setback for Gordon Brown as wounded serviceman falls on steps of Downing Street‘. If you look at the original url for the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247702/Help-hero-Another-PR-disaster-Gordon-Brown-injured-serviceman-Derek-Derenalagi-falls-Downing-Street-steps.html it is clear that originally it was a ‘PR disaster’ which was then downgraded to a setback, which has now – for most of the headlines at least – been changed completely to: ‘Help for a hero: Gordon Brown to the rescue as wounded serviceman falls on steps of Downing Street’. However, when you click on the article the title shown on the top bar of your web browser is still the original ‘PR disaster’ angle.

Why the change of heart from the Daily Mail? Perhaps it was a sudden realisation that trying to make political capital from a soldier who has had both legs amputated after an explosion in Afghanistan was extremely distasteful and shows a complete lack of respect for the soldier. Perhaps it was the amount of comments under the article pointing out what an utterly ridiculous angle to take: ‘Gordon Brown helps up a soldier who falls over’ simply doesn’t translate into a ‘PR disaster’ because he simply did what any decent human being would have done by helping him up.

Perhaps the only element of PR disaster for the Daily Mail was that he happened to be helping up an immigrant black man, which is presumably a social taboo for the average Mail journalist and reader. Mind you, after the recent ‘Is ME real?‘ poll on the Mail website you could get the impression that they aren’t all that keen on those with disabilities either.

What is clear is that the Daily Mail is quite happy to use any event – no matter whose dignity they trample over – to attack their familiar targets and, if their readers do not like it in sufficient numbers, then like any bully they’ll change the story completely and pretend it didn’t happen. Pathetic isn’t a strong enough word to describe this story.

UPDATE:

The print edition of the story had the new angle and didn’t attack Brown in any way:

Gordon Brown helps fallen  soldier

Mail Lionises Utter Turd

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.