I always think the Daily Express gets an easy ride, given the common contempt for the The Daily Mail, or the “Hate Mail”, “Daily Fail” or, my favourite, “Daily Wail”. For the Daily Express is, believe it or not, a lot more crazy than the Mail. I know this because my job is basically researching from the papers. I’d know it just from the headlines and pictures, but I do read it occasionally and must admit I get some sort of perverse enjoyment out of it. Reading the opinion pages is often akin to voyeuristically looking into the mind of a madman (it is nearly always a man writing on the ‘hard stuff’ like immigration, crime, and immigration).
I think it mostly escapes the opprobrium that meets the Mail because it’s just such a risible newspaper – or ‘newspaper’. Maybe their front page involves jumped-up cures to every ailment under the sun and supposedly catastrophic weather so often that people just think it’s just harmless guff for old farts. (The day after Mandela died, and George Osborne announced his Autumn statement, they still led on the weather).
And in a sense it is harmless. I very much doubt any Daily Express reader has any real power in the world – corporate or political – almost by definition (ie to have such a standing you would almost certainly need to at least have a modicum of intelligence, which one would hope one would use to not buy the Daily Express). But on the other hand, the paper sells nearly as many copies as The Guardian, The Independent and i combined (although these tend to appeal to younger people who will read them more online, and can do so for free). If it was just some grizzled hacks ranting into the wind, that would be fine. But the number of such readers, and the stubbornness of their views, is arguably causing focus group-loving politicians to tack to the Right, in a manner many consider dangerous (myself partly). A recent poll shows that Britons think recent immigrants make up some 31% of the population. They actually make up 13% (around 15% accounting for illegal immigrants). And around 87% of people are white. One way or another this is seriously going to affect race relations and policy, and I don’t think it’s too much of a jump to suggest the Daily Express and its ilk are largely responsible.
It’s like the school bully’s side kick, chipping in with a snidey but unthreatening, unfunny remark after the bully has done his bullying. (I think it’s actually testament to the success and influence of the Mail that the Left feels such a huge need to attack it. The Leni Riefenstahl films of journalism you could say – evil, but effective.) You can see the Express’ insecurity in the way it proudly emblazons, in a big red circle in its top corner, ’10p’, and then ‘cheaper than the Daily Mail’ in small print.
I read one particularly odious piece of bile in this Monday’s paper, from regular columnist Leo McKinstry, a bloated old bag of bigotry and self-righteousness, who makes Richard Littlejohn look positively urbane and who insists he isn’t racist despite basically every week writing an opinion piece painting immigrants as tax-dodging scroungers, killers (wannabe or actual) or both and more.
I completely accept that immigration – in terms of the policy set by the state at least – is an issue, and it’s one I’ve got mixed opinions on. I have little more respect for,on the other side of the spectrum, the insufferable, leftier-than-thou Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. But at least her hugely pro-immigration stance, if naive, derives from a sense of basic decency. (And I respect The Independent in general and think most of its readers are balanced, sane individuals.) But this piece, like McKinstry’s usual, was just such fucking detritus that I felt the need to point out it’s pure unreason. I’m sure, as you’ve made the good choice to read Planet Ivy, I’m preaching to the choir, of people not madly and pathologically opposed to immigration. But, guessing you’re not regular Express readers, hopefully the following will be an entertaining or enlightening insight into the workings of a madman….
One thing you can give him – he doesn’t beat around the bush. Heading the piece “We can’t trust our politicians to act over immigration”, he starts:
“Across the land there is rightly a profound sense of injustice at how we have to support a growing army of foreigners who have never contributed a penny to our country.”
The idea of hardening views on immigration is true, somewhat at least. UKIP has gained much more support in recent years and two of their core (only?) messages are much less immigration and EU exit. (Funny how Leo is much more supportive of immigrants, though, when they are good at running and throwing stuff and winning us gold medals). Ed Miliband would not for nothing have issued a mea culpa on Labour’s previous liberal attitude on immigration. And this shift in opinion may be because it is believed immigrants “have never contributed a penny to our country”, given the one-sided scaremongering the Express et al trade in. But it is not because there is much truth to the statement. Most studies find immigrants’ net fiscal contribution to the UK in the positive. Which makes sense really; if one takes up residence in another country it suggests they are healthy, mobile and ambitious – all desirable qualities in the job market.
Leo then says politicians are engaging in tough rhetoric on immigration, but “no genuine action”. What about toughening up the student visa system and even closing some higher education institutions in the belief they were bogus? What about the ‘go home or face arrest’ vans? The planned crackdown on ‘health tourism’? All of which have been largely condemned. And while it is true net migration is significant and up recently, immigration into the UK has fallen dramatically under the Coalition.
It gets worse:
“Brimming with self righteous vanity about their supposed tolerance they have turned our country into a soft touch, where free loading, even criminal foreigners are treated by the state with far more respect than decent, hard working Britons. Thanks to ruinous policies our justice system is now used as a battering ram against our civilisation, while our benefits system is a magnet for alien parasites and fraudsters.”
Firstly, ‘alien parasites and fraudsters’ – wow. That’s a lot of hate. At least I suppose you can’t technically be deemed ‘racist’ if you believe those your invective is aimed at are, in fact, a different species. Actually, according to 2012 figures, around 17% of UK nationals claim benefits compared to 7% of immigrants. But hey, let’s not let that get in the way of a good rant. One of the few times he admits (a few) immigrants do jobs, he damns them for that too, presenting a rather tricky catch-22.
He then details the case of “Somalian rapist” Mustafa Abdullahi, sentenced to ten years for a sex attack, who served half that term. There was, almost inevitably, an “only” inserted in there, but it may well have been legally appropriate. He “could not be deported” due to fears for his safety in Somalia (it’s not exactly rainbows and cuddles there, I gather) and his human right to a family life – his mother living in the UK. And he notes a similar case when a woman who committed benefit and identity fraud was not deported due to her four kids.
But then McKinstry pulls out his trump card – the old, blind and (inevitably) devout Christian lady. Jane Phillips was robbed of £50 when giving a quid to a Romanian Big Issue vendor, who admittedly does sound like a nasty piece of work. (And indeed looks it – a mugshot is included online. Then again, does anyone look good in a mugshot?). He has, apparently, a conviction for mobile phone theft and has been barred from several shops for antisocial conduct, and should not be allowed to sell the magazine as he “lives in a £250,000 house with his family”.
So, we learn from this article, a grand total of three UK immigrants have committed crimes (out of a total of around 8.3 million). GET RID OF THEM ALL!!!