Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Please God The Daily Mail's Vision for this Country is Never Realised

I only occasionally read The Daily Mail but recognise its clever mix of celebrity gossip and human interest stories explains why it has been one of the few elements of the print press which has prospered over the last decade. But yesterday I actually read a column by the lugubrious Simon Heffer and realised just how far apart my vision for a desirable UK is from his. Writing from New York, he bemoans the fact that we lack the wonderful choice American voters face today:

The choice is stark. It is between continuing a journey towards European-style statism and welfarism, which is what Obama is offering if he is re-elected, or reducing the size of the state and encouraging enterprise and individual responsibility, which is at the core of Mr Romney’s programme.

He also enthuses about the choice on offer regarding right or leftwing social values:

It is also a choice between more social liberalism – such as homosexual marriage – or reverting to a conservatism rooted in Christianity and traditional family values.

By comparison he thinks we have no choice at all. Well, why stop at Romney? Why not go the whole Tea Party hog and embrace the nuttiness of Sarah Palin and the loathsome freakshow on display during the Republican primaries?

To recast Heffer's question, how about seeing the choice as one between the stability and support for the disadvantaged you find in countries like Sweden and Denmark and the continuation of an America in which the average wage of most workers has stayed static for three decades while that of the richest 1% has rocketed beyond the wildest dreams of the Carnegies and Rockefellers of a century ago. Where poverty constantly fuels crime producing by far the biggest incarceration levels of any country in the world? 

And do we really want such a stark choice between right and left? Between say Nigel Farage and the Worker's Revolutionary Party? Wow! Give me Dave versus Ed any day rather than that. Once you also read Melanie Phillips' effusions, you realise that planet Daily Mail, despite its cheerful content and robust sales, is politically a universe away from any world we actually inhabit. 

I heard once about an interesting exchange of views that had followed an excoriating editorial or comment-piece in a periodical (possibly the New Statesman) about the Daily Mail (a newspaper the motives of which I am deeply suspicious about).

The author (possibly George Orwell) had laid into the newspaper with venom and gone on about the pernicious effect its writings must have on its readers.

A reader of the periodical wrote in to suggest that perhaps things were the other way around; maybe it was the views of the readers that had a pernicious effect on the writers and caused them to write as they did in order to ensure that the paper sold.

It's an interesting chicken and egg type of debate. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any details of where or when (possibly the late 1940s) the exchange took place so am having to rely on a faint memory of hearing something about it on the wireless.

Sometimes when I've been involved in campaigns I've tried to convince fellow campaigners that about a third of voters will never, ever vote Labour whatever happens. Strangely a lot of people seem not to believe it even though they are probably in the third of voters who will never, ever vote Conservative. And so they go on wasting energy and resources trying to convince the unconvincible. Even T Blair Esq conceded that this tendency was one of New Labour's mistakes.

We are not all the same, it's useful sometimes to try to see the world from other people's perspectives. There are many who think that what the Guardian writes is vile tripe. I (usually) think they're mistaken but perhaps they're not!
I'm afraid the only people on a different planet are those who think Europeans (and I exclude British from this) will be able to afford their beloved state-sponsored welfarism and a decent standard of living.
When dubya won his second term, the Daily Mail proclaimed the 'March of the Moral Majority'.

There is a strong movement to import US style radical Republicanism (i.e. Tea Party) to the UK still led by Liam Fox. But in truth, this is a foreign ideology that struggles to find a place in British political traditions. An Obama victory will send them into a tailspin of despair.
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