Monday 14 October 2013

Why the Left Hates the Daily Mail

Loathe as I am to pounce upon yet another bandwagon by adding to the dacreage of comment on the Daily Mail's ill-judged bust up with Ed Miliband, I cannot refrain from doing so. You see, as a leftie, as someone who values reason, equality and the labour movement, I'm de facto obsessed with the paper - at least that's what its beleaguered editor thinks. However, just as England very occasionally confounds expectations and turns in a decent performance befitting the paper value of the squad, Paul Dacre is broadly right. Why?

1. The Mail and their fellow guttersnipes in the hard right tabloid press lie. They say the most outrageous things and peddle the most ludicrous confidence tricks to amaze, entertain and scare their shrinking print readership. They attack, they traduce - yes, traduce - and smear whatever target(s) are in their sights, be it a politician, a celebrity or a member of the public.

2. The Mail doesn't just lie. It hates. Of all the tabloids, The Mail has a record to be ashamed of by their own execrable standards. No one else has quite consistently given it pages over to the hatred of Jews, LGBT people, minority ethnicities, immigrants, women, the young, the disabled, the poor, the working class. Mail hacks and Dacre might point to their "campaigning", particularly around the Stephen Lawrence case, but that does not absolve them of the hate they peddled beforehand or since. The one example of when The Mail did the decent thing stands all the more starkly against the shocking relief of stupid bigotry and wilful, cowardly ignorance that is its daily fare.

3. The Mail is shamelessly hypocritical. It has the gall to lecture and condemn whoever the paper's hating on that particular day in the name of a spurious morality it uniquely claims as its own. The right to private, dignified lives is out the window when its utterly unscrupulous editor thinks some hapless innocent needs to have their name dragged through the mud. It rails against the premature sexualisation of the young - especially young girls - and barely bats an eyelid when it publishes semi-naked photos of 13, 14, 15-year old celebrities.

4. The Mail is political poison. No other paper has openly given its support to a fascist party either back in the day or in more recent times. You can be rest assured that wherever privilege, prejudice and position are challenged, The Daily Mail will pitch in for the powerful. The Mail dreads nothing more than the 'decent working people' it allegedly represents noisily barging their way into politics and threatening to remake the social order from top to bottom.

5. The Mail plays to people's anxieties. It feeds the deep sense of unease, that widespread but intangible sense of insecurity that leaves millions of people prey to rubbish like the Islamic invasion of Britain, backdoor sovietisation by the EUSSR, snowmageddon, Cultural Marxism, and paedophiles in every school. The shivers it desperately tries to force down the readership's spine is the essential preface to its hang 'em, flog 'em, deport 'em politics.

6. The Mail's hysterical frothing is absolutely inimical to reasoned debate and informed political discourse.

The left, whatever its hue, hate The Mail because more than any other paper, party or movement on the "mainstream" right brings to life on its pages everything the left and the labour movement stands against: elitism, lies, bigotry, irrationality. The Mail debases our national life and is a stain upon what passes for Britain's journalistic culture. The left hates it because the paper is our antithesis. It is the worst of British values dressed up as the best, as Alastair Campbell put it.

Yet here's the thing. As much as the left hates the Daily Mail, it is also the one right wing paper we're most likely to read. Its multiple offences against the real world, its foul attacks on powerless victims, the hyperbolic, apocalyptic spin it gives to the mildest of social democratic policies can - and does - fuel a sense of outrage among the left. Just the sheer quantity of left comment generated when the Mail finds itself at the heart of periodic media storms suggests more than a view people with sensible politics regularly keep tabs, at least on its online version. And the marketing bods at the paper know this, they know a substantial minority of its regular audience absolutely hates its guts. Perversely The Mail has a clear commercial imperative in keeping them coming back for more, and the hacks are only happy to oblige with more twisted, hate-filled copy. And that's even before you get sucked into the vacuous but strangely alluring purgatory of the sidebar of shame.

The sad thing is while the left absolutely, genuinely, sincerely despises the Daily Mail; it loves to hate it too.


asquith said...

Am I the only one who's noticed that libertarians, who once claimed to hate the Mail, have been oddly muted in their statements on the matter lately?

asquith said...

Personally I won't so much as go on its website. I know others do, and it's good that they do to expose its utter shite. But I do read paper copies that I find in the library, left on trains, etc.

And it seems to me there's a near-universal tendency for people to wind themselves up and scratch their own wounds by reading things they hate. One thinks of the inexplicable obsession with Owen Jones, to whom I barely give a thought but who seems to drive a certain school of thought into a frenzy.

Ralph Musgrave said...

The six itemised criticisms made of the Daily Mail in the above article could equally well be applied to the The Guardian. For example and taking the first four points.

1. As regards “smearing”, Guardian articles regularly describe anyone who is not as enthusiastic as the Guardian about immigration as “racists” or “xenophobes”. And if you disapprove of “smearing”, what are you doing using the word “guttersnipe”?

2. As regards “lies”, see “1” above.

3. Hypocrisy. The Guardian claims to deplore the “far right”, while it embraces those with far right views who happen to have brown faces: Muslims. That particular hypocrisy by the political left was most vividly illustrated by the numerous instances of Ken Livingstone embracing far right Muslim extremists.

4. Fasicsm. One of the elements of fascism as per Oxford and other dictionaries is “militarism”. The Guardian’s favourite political party (Labour) invaded Iraq for no good reason (while that wicked “far right” party, the BNP, opposed the war from day 1).

Plus another element in fascism is opposition to free speech, and the most enthusiastic opponents of free speech are on the left, not the right.

Prof Beloff (former professor of government at Oxford) said in 1999 that there is something “dangerously fascist” about New Labour. He had a point.

I don’t read the Mail very often, but there is a definite place for it: it takes the piss out of some of the more nonsensical, sanctimonious nonsense we get from the political left.

Anonymous said...

I have never read the daily comic that is the Daily Mail, I am not sure sure it is bought by the working classes but more the petty bourgeois, which I regard as middle managers, white collar workers on above the average wage, those types.

The real destructive influence on the mind of the working classes is not from newspapers but the other comics, i.e. the Sun, Star and Mirror.

But what can you do, other than say to people, why do you read this shit? Then you are seen as preachy. People don't want to change, therefore one can only hope that eventually a generation will develop that rejects this self debasement. But really, the current lot are not worth the time and effort, which is why sectarianism is still the rational choice.

Mark Walmsley said...

I sometimes go through it on my parents' dining table and cheerfully point out the ways in which they'd loathe me if I was someone else's kid.

Agreed on how it they seem to deliberately provoke. They are masters at taking a complex issue and framing it to offend anyone who has acknowledged the intricacies and tried to grasp them in an open minded way. There is no more provocative voice than that dreary, distinctly British conservative moaning about so-called, self-serving “experts” and their lack of common sense.

Anonymous said...

I lived in a household that read the tabloids, that is all we had in our house right up until I started doing my A levels. Our economics teacher insisted that we bought the Guardian (he was a Keynesian) and this totally opened my eyes to a new world, a world of real, analytical newspapers. If Ralph can't see the difference between a paper like the Guardian and a paper like the Mail, then he is either a total cretin or a purveyor of distortion and lies, and therefore a real dogged opponent of free speech and intellectually honesty. But on balance I think he is probably a cretin.

Speedy said...

It's difficult to think of a UK media outlet that is not biased. The indi, maybe, once. The BBC still does it best, although it is hopelessly skewed toward bourgeois concerns and despises the working class (like the Guardian).

The Mail is vile - but there's something about it speaking to the anxieties of so many Britons, anxieties that the Guardian for example sneers at (mind you, the Guardian has really changed, blowing with the bourgeois wind so to speak).

Apples and oranges, or pig and dog shit maybe.

Yakoub Islam said...

>>>"Guardian claims to deplore the “far right”, while it embraces those with far right views who happen to have brown faces: Muslims."

No it doesn't.

Phil said...

I don't know why some people, like the learned ignoramus Musgrove automatically assumes that because someone is of the left that makes them a fangirl/boy of The Graun?

That said, everything he says about it is absolute tosh. But by all means, troll away.

Robert said...

A large section of the right seems to hate the Guardian the way we do the Mail. They can't seem to grasp that apart from their token lefty, Seamus Milne, it's a liberal paper not a left wing one.

Agree the obsession with the Mail is not healthy. The left should ignore the rag - it's quite obvious that they get off on winding the left up. It's a badge of honour for them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, even though I jumped to the defence of the Guardian I do not necessarily subscribe to its general political position. For example, a few weeks back there was an article by Germaine Greer which to my leftist eyes read like this:

"Give the wage slaves more crumbs off the table because seeing them suffer like this upsets the atmosphere at my dinner parties and sometimes makes me sleep a little uncomfortably".

So yes in some ways more unpalatable than even the Mail, but you have to recognise that, the opinion pieces aside, the quality of the analysis and the reporting is of a qualitatively different standard. The Guardian is a serious and informative source of information and the Mail is a rabid comic.

I should also point out to Ralph that when he says,

"One of the elements of fascism as per Oxford and other dictionaries is “militarism”.

that this is exactly the point, one of the elements! and not the bloody definition!

That was the paragraph that convinced me you were a cretin and not a peddlar of misinformation, like the rest of the scum on your side of the barricade.

Robert said...

And as events in the 1970s demonstrate elements on the right have always been willing to flirt with fascism when it suits them.

On the difference between liberals and the left - liberals feel uncomfortable about brutalising the poor, when they become aware of the situation that is, and are sometimes willing to correct the most blatant and obvious injustices when under enough pressure, but at the same time they get very nervous when the poor and the working class get organised and start challenging establishment power. At which point liberals tend to react by denouncing "populism" or "extremism"

Chris Hedges puts it rather brutally - liberals like the poor but they don't like the smell of the poor.

Speedy said...

Precisely, that's why I am of the Left, but many on the Left seem to have confused themselves with Liberalism (in the same way they confuse the Liberal Guardian with being on the Left).

In fact in this sense maybe the Guardian is more damaging than the Mail because it has misled an entire generation of Leftists, and may account for the profound lack of concise and consistent thinking on the Left.

At least they know where they stand with the Mail, but the Guardian is the true cuckoo in the nest.

Phil said...

I think most socialists see the Graun for what it is - a liberal paper. But as far as I'm concerned, it and the Telegraph are by far the most informative of mainstream papers.

Speedy said...

I don't know about the rest of the Telegraph but Ambrose Evans Pritchard is really good on what's going on in the global economy and Europe in particular. here's a recent example: