Every morning a BBC web page carries images of the front pages of Britain’s newspapers. These are good indicators of what most of the papers want to persuade readers to believe, because with two exceptions they are crudely prejudiced in the nationalistic style that has become so rife in the UK in recent years. The Financial Times and the Guardian, alone, maintain dignity and objectivity while such publications as the Daily Mail and the Sun (both selling over a million copies a day) are intent on disparaging people who are not true-born English folks.
The paper is poisonously racist, not only concerning those who don’t look “English” but those who don’t think in the same bigoted way that the Mail presents its opinions. As noted by the Editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, “the Mail is owned by the Rothermere family… The current Lord Rothermere’s father loved Great Britain so much he went to live in France as a tax exile. He then passed on the nom-domicile status to his son who doesn’t actually pay the normal amount of tax despite owning a newspaper that’s owned through various tax companies in Bermuda.” How patriotic.
One reason the Daily Mail loathes Europe is that in 2016 it was named by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), along with The Sun, as being racist and intolerant. The ECRI is not an agency of the European Union, but the rabidly anti-EU Daily Mail managed to conjure up the excited allegation that “European human rights chiefs have told the British press it must not report when terrorists are Muslim,” which was garbage, because the Commission observed simply and correctly that “fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety”.
An independent inquiry into UK press standards concluded that “there are enough examples of careless or reckless reporting to conclude that discriminatory, sensational or unbalanced reporting in relation to ethnic minorities, immigrants and/or asylum seekers is a feature of journalistic practice in parts of the press, rather than an aberration.” But this had no effect whatever, as governments of any political persuasion are afraid to upset any newspapers because they would then face a campaign that could adversely affect their voting base.
Research by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees showed that the Daily Mail and the Sun demonstrated hostility towards migrants that was “unique” among the newspapers they examined in five European countries. And the truly disgusting aspect of this venomous extremism is that so many of the British (well, perhaps English) public appear to endorse it enthusiastically.
Three years ago the United Nations News reported the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as saying that an offensive article in the Sun “was simply one of the more extreme examples of thousands of anti-foreigner articles that have appeared in UK tabloids over the past two decades. Asylum seekers and migrants have been linked to rape, murder, disease, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanour in front-page articles and two-page spreads, in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers.”
Given that so many of the UK’s papers are dedicated to spreading xenophobic poison it was not surprising that they verged on the hysterical about a recent incident in England in which a retired British spy, formerly of Russian nationality (he was granted UK citizenship — no problem about being a migrant in his case) was apparently poisoned along with his daughter who was visiting him from Moscow. The headlines were astonishing, even for the UK’s newspapers, but as usual there was an unintentional element of humour injected by the Daily Mail which boldly suggested the ultimate punishment:
It wasn’t a novel proposal, because Britain’s ever-vigilant foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had already said it was a good idea. As reported by the Daily Mirror, an equally vulgar clone of the Mail and the Sun, “Boris Johnson says England could pull out of the World Cup if Russia if involvement if it is revealed that Putin’s regime was involved in the ‘poisoning’ of former spy Sergei Skripal.” This was confirmed by the Mail which reported Johnson as saying “If things turn out to be as many members suspect that they are, I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our engagement with Russia. And for my part I think it will be difficult to see how, thinking ahead to the World Cup this summer, I think it would be difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way.
We will certainly have to consider that.”
Things seemed to be getting really serious, but a hasty “clarification” was issued, making it clear that Johnson had meant only that there would have to be reassessment of “diplomatic and political presence” at Cup matches, and no withdrawal of the English team. And so the happy saga continued, with much huffing and puffing and dramatic front page headlines excoriating Russia without, of course, the smallest shred of evidence that there had been Russian government involvement in the supposed poisoning.
Some of the media attempted to provide objectivity, in that, as reported by the BBC, Skripal “was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006. He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI as part of a swap. He was later flown to the UK.” The man was a proven spy who had betrayed his own countrymen, and almost the only person to talk any sense about the matter was a former British Ambassador to Russia, Tony Brenton, who said that “the fact that [Skripal] blew a whole range of Russian agents, there may be personal animosities there. In most Russians’ minds he would be categorised as a traitor. There are people there who would be delighted to see him dead.”
But balance and objectivity do not sell newspapers, and neither do they provide headlines for dinky politicians who are anxious to jump on publicity bandwagons. Enter the deeply experienced British defence minister Gavin Williamson, known as “the baby-faced assassin,” who on March 6 “warned that the Kremlin had developed a much more aggressive posture towards the UK in the past 12 months and the country should not sit submissively by . . . Mr Williamson told MPs that the country needed to ‘match what Putin is doing with Russian forces’. During defence questions in the Commons, he said: ‘Putin has made it quite clear that he has hostile intent towards this country. We’ve been seeing the build-up of his forces across the Eastern Front and in terms of what they’re doing over many years now – we have to wake up to that threat and we have to respond to it.”
The British press and its political puppets are determined to convince the British public that there is a massive threat from Russia and even that the Kremlin influenced the disastrous referendum vote to quit the European Union, the Brexit debacle. The affair of the spy Skripal has provided much ammunition, and the newspapers have been effective in increasing the level of anti-Russian sentiment and increasing international tension. It’s poison that sells British newspapers.