The Daily Mail reminds me a little bit of climate change: you think you’ve got the measure of just how bad it is, but every time you look it’s taken another appalling leap forward. Yesterday, following the conviction of the Philpotts for the manslaughter of their six children, it called Mick Philpott the “vile product of welfare UK”. The cynicism, the lack of respect for the dead, the dehumanising terminology (he “bred” the children, it says); the front page alone told us all we need to know.
It’s been a pretty depressing few days for anyone with a modicum of heart and empathy and decency in their body. After the introduction of the welfare changes this week, we get the Daily Mail striving to become an even more extreme parody of itself. Except it’s not a parody, it’s serious and the worst thing is that it reflects the views of its readership. Yes, I’m a Guardian reader and you can equally argue with justification that the Guardian reflects its readers, too, but the difference is that rags like the Mail and the Express put out pure poison that serves to divide. The liberal press may put out equally biased stories but at worst they try to make people care more about each other while the right-wing press promote hatred.
It makes me regret even more how Tony Blair squandered the huge mandate he got in 1997. He could’ve taken that and really made the UK into a great, welcoming, freedom-loving, caring place. He had the electoral mandate and goodwill to move ‘the middle ground’ away from the Tory status quo but, despite notable successes like the minimum wage, squandered it. He wasn’t brave enough to take that overwhelming rejection of the Tories – The Nasty Party – and instil real Labour values when he had the chance. Instead, we got The Slightly Less Nasty Party and now Tories are running away with what actually wasn’t an electoral mandate and creating a societal mess that will take decades to fix, if we ever can. I make no apologies for telling Amélie at every opportunity how the Tories run the country for their rich friends. That might be a simplistic statement but it’s 100% accurate.
Post title lyric taken from The Leisure Society – Fight for Everyone