Notes From the Margins…

Swimming with sharks: the rightwing press snatches distraction from defeat

  • May 05, 2012
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Faced with the Coalition’s predictable drubbing in yesterday’s local elections,  the rightwing press has been reminding the electorate of the issues that really matter, showing the thoughtful analysis for which it is justifiably famous.

Yesterday’s Times had a piece on the collapse of the computerized visa system at Lunar House with a Pavlovian headline guaranteed to make a certain kind of dog drool:


Immigration chaos?  Again?  Dammit man, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?   The main concern of the article was the impact of the visa computer collapse on business executives, an elevated category of humanity that, in the opinion of the Times at least,  cannot be allowed to experience the kinds of queues and delays imposed on  ordinary ‘immigrants’.

Yesterday’s Daily Mail picked up the same story with a bitter rant about the ‘latest farce at border control’  , which similarly worried that ‘The meltdown will severely damage Britain”s reputation among business executives and investors.’

And today’s Mail carries the following headline:

Inside Max Hastings reminds his readers what these values are, in a column which attributes yesterday’s Tory reversals to ‘the price of treating us with contempt’, and warns that  ‘  Illegal immigrants and indeed legal ones continue to pour into the country at a rate which outrages public opinion, while genuine tourists face a Spanish Inquisition.’

And despite the tribulations of its owners, yesterday’s  Sun fired off a frantic  blast of xenophobia, like a deranged Jimmy Cagney on a gas storage tank:


 Something that the Sun could never be accused of doing:

But pride of place for hilarity and total stupidity must go the Daily Express, which informed its readers yesterday:


Is this a Private Eye spoof?  Definitely not.  This is deadly serious stuff:

 Eurocrats are secretly plotting to create a super-powerful EU president to realise their dream of abolishing ­Britain, we can reveal.

You there: take the grin off your face.  We’re going to be abolished  dammit:

 A covert group of EU foreign ministers has drawn up plans for merging the jobs currently done by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.

The new bureaucrat, who would not be directly elected by voters, is set to get sweeping control over the entire EU and force member countries into ever-greater political and economic union.

Like, OMG.    But wait, it gets worse:

Tellingly, the UK has been excluded from the confidential discussions within the shady “Berlin Group” of Europhile politicians, spearheaded by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.

Well what kind of name is Guido Westerwelle?  Wasn’t he a James Bond villain?   Anyway he is German and anyone who is a member of Berlin Group is probably a Nazi.  And Europhile sounds a lot like paedophile, doesn’t it?   And  if you think the ‘Berlin Group’ is bad,  get this:

Opponents fear the plan could create a modern-day equivalent of the European emperor envisaged by Napoleon Bonaparte or a return to the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne that dominated Europe in the Dark Ages.  They are concerned that David Cameron”s coalition Government is doing nothing to prevent the sinister plot.

Well that’s just not on.  Napoleon and the Holy Roman Empire?  Charlemagne?  And if our Prime Minister hasn’t the gumption to face down this ‘sinister plot’ and save Britain from being abolished, then who has?

Fortunately, hope is at hand, in the shape of Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon, who claims that:

‘This is a plot by people who want to abolish nation states and create a United States of Europe.’

And UKIP, whose MEP Paul Nuttall memorably declares:

‘ This is a truly ridiculous idea that must never be allowed to happen.’

The same could be said of UKIP itself, which is now on the brink of becoming the third-ranking political party.   And one of the reasons it has happened is because three quarters of the British press routinely churns out the same rancid xenophobia, anti-immigrant hysteria, and little England anti-Europeanism, and that millions of readers regularly immerse themselves in this dank pool day after day, year after year.

It would be an understatement to say that this situation is not particularly conducive to progressive politics, and that is why no matter how ludicrous or unintentionally hilarious the rightwing press may sometimes be, in the end it always has the last laugh.


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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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