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Why blaming the media or calling them “racist” won’t deal with the UKIP problem

by Sunny Hundal     April 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm

The European/Local Elections are coming up next month and the establishment is in full panic. For the first time in British history there is a chance neither the Conservatives nor Labour come first in local elections.

In the Observer on Sunday, Nick Cohen is the latest one to sound the alarm, blaming the media for giving UKIP an easy ride.

This isn’t just lazy, but simply untrue. In fact over the last year the national press has ferociously attacked UKIP over their policies, the cranks that run it and the fruitcakes that are its activists.

None of the negative publicity has hurt UKIP’s support. According to YouGov today UKIP have moved to first place in EU election polls.

Are we surprised that people who express support for an anti-establishment party aren’t bothered by establishment criticism of that party?

That’s just naive. Plus, this attitude is compounded by attacking the UKIP posters are racist, thereby 1) giving those billboards even more publicity and general coverage; 2) feeding into UKIP’s narrative that the establishment thinks any restriction of immigration is racist and will attack it as such.

This plays straight into UKIP’s hands and they, despite the odd mishap, are laughing because it helps them connect with more people.

Blaming the media for the rise of UKIP is absurd. Some Britons have latched on to UKIP as a way to express their discontent with the political system – but the problem is the disconnected and unrepresentative political establishment, not the media. Without the rising anger at Westminster politics, no amount of media coverage would have given UKIP 20%+ in the polls.

The uncomfortable fact is that negative media coverage doesn’t hurt UKIP’s support. It helps them because it cements their place as the anti-establishment party.

Feeling helpless at the rise and rise of UKIP, lefties have taken the easy option and started calling them racist at every opportunity. Its amusing and even I admit to poking fun at them, but this won’t work.

These people hate the national media and mainstream politicians. Why in the world do people think they’ll listen to criticisms of UKIP from the very people they hate?

Being anti-establishment
Some people also think that pointing out Nigel Farage’s City-broker background, or the craziness of UKIP policies, will undermine UKIP’s claim to be anti-establishment.

Nick Cohen sums this up:

He says he represents “ordinary people”. But he is a public school-educated former banker, whose policies will help him and his kind. He claims he is the voice of “common sense”, while allying with every variety of gay-hater, conspiracy crackpot, racist, chauvinist and pillock. The only sense he and his followers have in common is a fear of anyone who is not like them.

But these attacks misunderstand the nature of UKIP’s anti-establishment positioning.

People who hate the establishment vote UKIP because they want to shake it up. They don’t want UKIP to run the country; they are using it as a proxy to express their anger. Just saying UKIP isn’t anti-establishment doesn’t bother them, because they can see how the rise of UKIP bothers the establishment.

UKIP say: ‘if we aren’t the anti-establishment party, why does the establishment hate us so much?’ – and people think, fair enough.

So how do we undermine UKIP?

The key to undermining UKIP is the Left doing a better job of engaging and understanding the voters who vote UKIP. That’s the boring answer but it happens to be the only one constantly proven to work. And we not going to engage UKIP support by constantly sneering at them and calling them racists for voting UKIP.

That does not mean that Labour and the Left try and outflank UKIP from the right. The Tories are trying that but it won’t work. It means better engagement at a community level, making our politics more open and making it less unrepresentative. It means having more MPs who can connect people rather than great at sounding polished on Newsnight.

Once we get better at engaging people, then calling out UKIP racism can have resonance and impact because people trust your judgement. Only when they think you have something substantial to offer will they think you’re not calling UKIP racist to deflect from your own troubles.

An attack on UKIP has to resonate with people who support it. But none of the attacks on UKIP, whether in the national media or by lefties on Twitter, resonate with those people.

If a ‘metropolitan liberal’ like me can detect the sneering attitude a mile off, don’t you think UKIP supporters can too? And why in the world would they listen to people who have so much contempt for them?

What Georgina Henry taught me about journalism and editing

by Sunny Hundal     February 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I would be nowhere without Georgina Henry.

Nearly ten years ago I rang the Guardian’s deputy editor (as she was then) out of the blue, with an idea about running a list of the ’20 most powerful Asians in media’ to increase visibility of non-whites in the British media. I didn’t know who else to pitch it to. She didn’t even know me but she liked the idea and commissioned it. And though it wasn’t ground-breaking (ok, in a way it was) G2 ran our list on the front cover.

Most of you won’t know of Georgina Henry – she stopped playing an active role at the Guardian’s Comment is Free from around 2010 and had been getting treatment for cancer for the last two years. She died last week.

No one has had a bigger influence on my work as a journalist and commentator than Georgina Henry. Over two years later, When Guardian CIF launched in 2006, I was one of the few lucky bloggers she nurtured and helped in the early days. Without that support I doubt I’d be anywhere.

Her way of working and values taught me a few things too.

- Let ideas come to you from everywhere
I wasn’t the only unknown writer who was able to get an idea past Georgina – she was always open to new people and their pitches. She wanted to hear new voices and let the Guardian be the place where new ideas flourished.

As an editor and writer, she taught me to always open yourself to new influences and go outside your comfort-zone. Georgina used to help organise and even attend CIF readers/writers meet-ups – I can’t imagine the deputy editor of any other major newspaper doing that.

- You will get criticism for whatever you do
Any editor of an opinion-site will get criticism from all sides, but the Guardian particularly gets it in the neck. On issues such as Israel-Palestine, race-relations, terrorism, immigration and more – Georgina Henry wasn’t shy of constantly raising these topics despite the barrage of criticism that we knew would come.

But more admirably, she protected her writers and took on the vicious attacks herself. Getting criticism for running controversial articles was part of the job as she saw it, and she didn’t shy away from it. No serious editor should.

- Keep challenging the consensus
When CIF launched, lots of us new writers wanted to challenge the current debates. I wanted a new way of talking about race-relations without the self-appointed ‘community leaders’; Seth Freedman wanted to report on Israel-Palestine differently; Cath Elliott used to get angry by existing articles on feminism; many Muslims wanted to show that progressive voices also existed in the UK.

Georgina gave us the space to say something new and controversial, even if it antagonised Guardian writers. When I launched our manifesto on race-relations with a few others, Georgina happily hosted a week long debate even though it didn’t sit well with some established Guardian writers.

- Take risks
This is the most important thing Georgina taught me through her work. This is relevant not just for taking on new voices or challenging people, but to go outside the boundaries of what you normally do.

She launched CIF without much of an idea of where it would go; whether the chaos and new voices would be too difficult to handle; whether the site would dilute the Guardian brand or not. There were bloggers snarking about CIF and saying the project was doomed everywhere. She ploughed on anyway. She made it work through sheer will.

She commanded our respect like no other person I’ve met, and was a mentor and teacher. I will forever be in her debt.

The right to insult all religions is important, and should be cherished

by Sunny Hundal     January 26, 2014 at 12:10 pm

The first time I was invited on to a debate on TV, I was so nervous I couldn’t stop myself shaking. It was partly nerves and partly the topic. It was Christmas 2005, and a theatre in Birmingham had to abandon a play because a large mob of angry Sikhs had gathered in protest outside, and some had broken the windows. All this because they said it insulted their religion.

Of course, the play – Behzti (‘shame’) – didn’t insult Sikhism, it merely depicted rape in a Gurdwara (temple) on stage. Self-appointed community leaders were aghast and spread rumours that the writer, a Sikh woman, was 1) an attention seeker 2) had a black boyfriend and wanted to deliberately insult Sikhs 3) wasn’t really a Sikh. I wrote angry editorials (as editor of the industry journal Asians in Media mag, then) that Behzti should not be shut down and angry Sikhs should learn to live with perceived insults to their faith. The play got shut down because the theatre and the local police were too scared to stand up to fundamentalists.

There have been plenty of controversies since, involving British Hindus and Muslims too.

The latest one involves Maajid Nawaz, a Lib Dem candidate and head of the anti-terrorism think-tank Quilliam Foundation, who tweeted a picture of the Jesus & Mo cartoons, which depicts both figures as stick drawings. Some Muslims are outraged and want Maajid de-selected. One of the instigator, another self-appointed ‘community leader’, boasted that he would inform Islamic countries in the Middle East about Nawaaz. It doesn’t get more comical than this.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt: it’s that most religious Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Britain still don’t understand freedom of speech. They pay lip service to free speech, of course, but the minute they feel their religion is being insulted, they want to see it censored. I’m not referring to ordinary people here – I’m referring to the ones who are more religious than normal. They are the ones who go the extra effort of mobilising others to be offended.

Let me be blunt.

If you appreciate the freedom to practice religion, then you should embrace freedom of speech.

If you appreciate the fact that Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims broadly have the same right as Christians, then you should embrace freedom of speech.

If you think people shouldn’t be locked up for expressing fringe and perhaps unpopular opinions, then you should embrace free speech.

And yes, all of these mean you have to accept the right of others to say things you may find hurtful or insulting to your religion. That’s how it works.

You cannot have a relatively free society without the freedom to insult and antagonise religious people. You cannot create a well functioning secular society without the right to insult religion. Otherwise, you end up like Pakistan, which plans to execute a mentally ill British man for being ‘blasphemous’.

I’m not saying Christians understand this fully (the Daily Mail constantly whines about insults to Christian sensibility); neither am I saying that non-religious Brits have this nailed down (people have been harassed for saying offensive things or just making jokes).

I am saying that minorities should be especially pro-free-speech, because when freedom of speech is curtailed, it is used against minorities first. And that freedom speech does and should always include the right to insult religion and religious figures.

You have a right to be offended.

You don’t have a right to censorship. You don’t have the right to shut down a play, close down an exhibition, stop a book being sold, or stop someone from speaking peacefully or holding a demo. And yes, that includes the likes of the EDL.

I’m really sick of some people acting like village thugs and demanding people listen to them because they feel insulted. No. No one cares if you feel hurt, especially if its over your religion. The rest of us don’t care how important it is to you – the right to insult and have free speech is far more important.

At the time of the Behzti play controversy, I was invited to a debate on BBC Asian Network where some Sikh ‘human rights’ organisation claimed they were going to sue the writer (herself a Sikh!) for inciting violence against Sikhs. I kid you not. I laughed in their face, on radio. That is how seriously these people should be taken. Their proposed plan never got anywhere of course.

Blogging is more important than ever

by Sunny Hundal     November 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

If the demise of Liberal Conspiracy marks the end of the ‘amateur blogger’ then I’m the next Pope. I always have one piece of advice for my new students at Kingston University: start blogging.

The media landscape has clearly evolved since 2005, but blogging has only become more powerful and influential. When I launched Liberal Conspiracy in Nov 2007, I was unknown in Westminster; six years later this site was read at the top of the Labour party.

None of this happened because I was well-connected, had worked at a newspaper or had influential friends. It happened only because Liberal Conspiracy ran stories (thanks to tips from many readers) that got noticed. The national media cannot ignore us like they used to. For all its faults the new media landscape is far more meritocratic than old media or the political establishment.

But I had an edge – a good understanding of web programming and technology. Before blogging I used to run messageboards and online magazines that ran on code (HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL) I had written myself. For Liberal Conspiracy and Pickled Politics I developed new designs and WordPress themes myself (with some help), and was able to make changes, experiment and evolve quicker than others who paid for customised designs. I was also very comfortable with, and more aggressive than most bloggers, in using social media to find and promote stories.

Unsurprisingly, my work at Kingston involves teaching digital journalism: teaching web programming and technologies to leverage journalism. There are far more qualified people at Kingston to teach journalism; my focus is is on how to use the internet to take that further. And I’m grateful to them for taking me on (I’ve given a few lectures on the topic at City University too).

Whether amateur (i.e. independent) multi-author publishing is dead wholly depends on how people approach it. Here’s my advice: don’t expect to start an opinion blog and get 100,000 readers a month. The market is over-saturated with opinions on the Guardian, New Statesman, HuffPo and IndyVoices (just on the left). Only the Guardian pays and yet the others have no problems attracting submissions because so many want to make a name for themselves.

Worse, most opinion blogging only talks to the already-converted and changes minds only at the margins. It may be cathartic for some but that’s not enough to attract a lot of visitors regularly.

‘News’ publishing on the other hand has a bright future and I suspect we will see much more of this. But I’d like people to think outside the box.

Firstly, popular ‘news’ doesn’t always have to mean exposing Traditional Britain, or leaking the Coalition Agreement, it can involve finding interesting stories from social media or putting together publicly available info. Our most popular posts this year have been a collection of Tweets (on British Gas and the EDL’s Tommy Robinson). Another example: How one Twitter troll went from abuse to apology in minutes. All these were stories Buzzfeed or HuffPo would (and did) do but we got there quicker and went viral first.

Secondly, the platform has become irrelevant. We need to move away from talking about blogging, and setting up a simple WordPress blog, to thinking about publishing. The traditional advantages of blogging (simple format, popularity through inter-linking, simple set-up) have become largely irrelevant as HuffPost and Buzzfeed have shown. Both developed their own content system, and meanwhile WordPress has become bloated and slow.

My model for Liberal Conspiracy was simple: use fun and interesting news to amass readers and followers; then get them to read policy material and get involved in campaigns.

There is now more opportunity than ever for someone to start another political news site, make it popular, and figure out a business model to earn a living from it. I stopped Liberal Conspiracy because the traditional blogging model has become defunct, not because online publishing is a waste of time and effort. A budding journalist or publisher has no excuse not to use this medium to make a name for themselves. I hope many more will do.

Stop the NHS health tourism blame-game

by Guest     October 23, 2013 at 9:04 am

by Giselle Green

When I broke my shoulder skiing in Italy last Christmas, I received excellent care at the local hospital, including a speedy x-ray and an overnight stay for observation (in case of head trauma) in my own room.

It wasn’t until after I was discharged and flying home that I realised my EHIC card, which had authorised my ‘free’ treatment, had expired. I was worried that this would mean I’d be liable for all the costs of my treatment – including the long ambulance ride from the top of a mountain.

I quickly renewed my card and hoped the hospital in Italy wouldn’t notice my treatment had occurred during the period when I wasn’t covered or wouldn’t bother to chase me up. But they did. ?As soon as they realised I didn’t have a valid EHIC card, they came after me, wanting me to pay for my treatment.

Luckily, a call to the EHIC office in Newcastle established that an out of date EHIC card didn’t actually matter, as long as I was a bona fide British national. Crisis – and huge bill – averted.

The point though is that the Italian hospital clearly deemed it worthwhile chasing me for payment when they thought I, rather than the UK government, was liable. Is the same happening in this country? How much money is the UK government claiming back from EU countries for treating EU nationals in our NHS , and how many UK hospitals or GPs go chasing after individuals who aren’t entitled to ‘free’ treatment? We need to see the figures.

There’s nothing wrong with our government trying to claw back money from other governments or individuals, but not if the costs of doing so exceed the amount of money clawed back. And nor if the time taken up by hospitals or doctors is diverted from patient care.

But there is everything wrong with our government trying to claim that ‘health tourists’ are costing the NHS £2 billion when researchers have admitted uncovering only “anecdotal” evidence of health tourism and “no statistically valid samples to generate estimates”.

Even the very term ‘health tourism’ is misleading. It is conveniently used to lump together all legal AND illegal visitors and migrants who happen to need the NHS while in the UK, as well as the actually tiny but hugely publicised proportion who come to this country with the intentional purpose of using our NHS.

Until we have concrete evidence of the scale of each of these different ?categories, as well as our success rate in getting reimbursed for NHS treatment, it’s hard to assess the scale of the problem or take effective action.

But one thing is certain: the government is being highly effective in pinning the blame on migrants and will continue to hype the catch-all ‘health tourism’ issue so it can impress UKIP voters with its tough stance.

?It also suits the government to divert attention away from its own chronic underfunding and creeping privatisation of our NHS. It’s time to give this government’s distasteful blame-game the cold shoulder.

The time we tried to doorstep Paul Dacre at his house

by Guest     October 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

by Chris Coltrane

A couple of weeks ago, 200 activists protested outside the Daily Mail’s offices, in response to the paper’s ongoing campaign of hatred against anyone that isn’t white, male, straight and middle-class.

There were guest speakers, placards, banners, chanting and fun. There were press photographers there too, which gave us some good media coverage. I say that – The Guardian covered it. The Daily Mail? Not so much.

Isn’t that strange? We practically gave them the story on a plate. Perhaps there wasn’t enough room in the paper. I expect they suddenly discovered an important 15 year old in a bikini they had to cover instead. And then they’d have to make room for the columns about how the bikini has affected house prices, which as we all know causes cancer…

I had a drink in the pub afterwards with a prominent left-wing blogger. It’s no big deal, I’m just a very popular guy, and I need you to be comfortable with that. As we were talking, he leans in and says ”Chris, are you busy this afternoon? It’s just, I’ve got an idea for a little ruse. You know Paul Dacre? Editor of the Daily Mail? Well, the thing is… I know where he lives.”

How do you know where he lives? “Oh, I just know people” he boasted, hoping the director of his life was going to shoot today in the style of an East End gangster film. Vinnie Jones stars in “Paul Dacre: The Slappening.”

“I’ve got his address, and a video camera. Fancy an adventure?” It took me about 0.1 seconds to decide yes.

He lives a short bus ride from the Daily Mail’s offices, in Knightsbridge which, as British readers know, is where bastards come from. Turns out he also lives near a lot of sweet shops, which made me happy because it meant I could do some activism, and reward myself with some chocolate truffles. I’m not a champagne socialist, I’m a champagne truffle socialist.

We didn’t really have a plan. We were fuelled by excitement, not by consideration. All we had was a circular placard that read “Hated by the Daily Mail.” Could we use it? Could we, using our biggest and most preposterous shoehorn, give Paul Dacre an award for being the man most hated by the Daily Mail?

It’s conceivable. After all, Paul Dacre edits a newspaper that dodges tax (unlike the hard-working middle-classes), and the language Dacre allegedly uses in the newsroom is sickeningly vulgar – utterly at odds with their family values!

We turned the placard into a cone, and put three flowers inside, which we proudly stole from the window-box of a millionaire. We then made a quick video explaining that we were giving him the award on behalf of the League of Justice (look, we were working under pressure). Then we buzz on his intercom, and knocked on his door, for five minutes… before we realised it was Sunday, so he’d be editing Monday’s newspaper, and that we’d utterly wasted our time. When the revolution comes, let’s hope it isn’t me organising it. I’d probably do it on a Bank Holiday by mistake.

We decided to leave him the reward on his doorstep as a present. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect, and as you can see from the photo, leaving a wrap of dead flowers on someone’s doorstep with no explanation looks less like an award, and more like a death threat.

It’s a bit mafia, isn’t it? Like we’ll return a week later and leave a horse’s head.

Still, I’m glad we tried. After all, if your neighbour was being noisy, you’d knock and complain. And when someone is polluting the country with toxic lies and hate, and you know where they live, I have no moral issue with knocking on their door to complain.

Now of course, I couldn’t print his address. That would be thoroughly inappropriate. However, you might be interested in my new idea for a business: Mogul Tours™. I’ll take you on a jaunt around London, stopping at the homes of the most powerful media magnates. If you then choose to pay them a visit, well, that’s up to you. It’ll be a bit like those Jack The Ripper tours, but somehow even more creepy.

Andrew Mitchell could have ended Plebgate controversy ages ago, but didn’t

by Guest     October 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

by Giselle Green

An apparently trivial incident at the gates of Downing Street over a year ago, which claimed the career of a Cabinet minister, would not still be front page news or discussed at PMQs had it not been for two important factors: the timing and the instant response of Andrew Mitchell.

The day before The Curious Incident of the Gate in the Night-Time, the news agenda was dominated by the brutal murder of two unarmed female police officers in Manchester. This was described at the time by the BBC’s home affairs correspondent as “arguably the blackest day in the history of the police service of England and Wales since three police officers were shot dead in west London in 1966″. 

This dreadful and emotionally-charged story also crucially came just a week after another equally huge police story: that South Yorkshire police had lied and operated a cover-up of unimaginably distasteful proportions during and after the Hillsborough disaster. 

Had plebgate happened a week earlier, with the Hillsborough disgrace uppermost in people’s minds, I have no doubt that the police version of events, with its “fucking plebs” remark, would not have been so quickly and gleefully jumped on by politicians and the media as the truth.

And without the fuel of the class-war loaded remark, the incident would not have turned into an explosive story. The fact that it is called plebgate says it all.

But it wasn’t just the timing of plebgate that was crucial. Before anyone starts feeling too sorry for Andrew Mitchell, the finger of blame is also pointing at his own immediate response to the accusation.

It is now clear that his words were, at best, misheard, or at worst, twisted. Why then did Mr Mitchell play silly semantic games with the press, repeatedly stating “I did not use the words that have been attributed to me” rather than explicitly stating what he did say? He could so easily have snuffed out the story – or at least speedily discredited the police version – by coming clean with: “What I actually said was: ‘I thought you guys were supposed to fucking help us’ and I sincerely apologise for swearing”. 

But it wasn’t until December that Mr Mitchell publicly gave his own account of exactly what was said at the gates of Downing Street.

Without that immediate, and highly plausible, rebuttal, plebgate snowballed into a full scale scandal spawning a resignation, the revelation of a fake eyewitness account, arrests, inquiries, a Channel 4 documentary, a Scotland Yard investigation and demonstrations at the Tory Party conference, and involved the DPP, the CPS, the IPCC, the Diplomatic Protection Group, ACPO and the Police Federation, as well as drawing in all the party leaders, the home secretary and countless MPs. Has anyone worked out the cost of all this? And it’s not over yet.

Had Mr Mitchell not been so enigmatic at the time, it would not still be dominating the news agenda.

But neither would we have uncovered the very disturbing and grave flaws of individual police officers and members of the Police Federation that were triggered by the initial incident, which now raise important questions about the integrity of our police force. And for that, we have to be grateful to Mr Mitchell and to the timing of the tragic slaughter of two police officers in Manchester.

Listen: Tommy Robinson a “great admirer” of Douglas Murray

by Sunny Hundal     October 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

There was a particularly interesting moment this morning when I was asked to debate Tommy Robinson leaving the EDL on BBC 5Live

Presenter Nicky Campbell had spoken to Robinson extensively the day before, and he told us that the ex-EDL leader said he was a great admirer of Douglas Murray.

Robinson went on to say, according to Campbell, that their views were exactly the same but that Douglas Murray was simply more articulate.

Listen below (the full interview from here 2hrs 7m in)

Hearing Douglas Murray’s nervous laughter half way through is a joy.

Why we should ignore the newspapers

by Chris Dillow     October 8, 2013 at 11:19 am

Another day brings another furore about the press, the latest being about The Sun's stigmatizing the mentally ill. This poses the question: why should we fret about newspapers' misconduct?

I'll fess up here. I read the Mail most days. But I also read Holy Moly and Popbitch, and for similar reasons. I don't regard any of them as politically serious.

In fact, there's decent evidence that the political importance of the dead trees was over-rated, even before their circulation began to fall. Here's one US study (pdf) by Jesse Shapiro and colleagues:

We find no evidence that partisan newspapers affect party vote shares, with confidence intervals that rule out even moderate-sized effects. We find no clear evidence that newspapers systematically help or hurt incumbents.

This is consistent with John Curtice's assessment (pdf) of the 1997 election:

Relative to the often highly evocative and strident manner in which the British press often conducts itself, its partisan impact is a small one.

Since then, it's highly likely – given their falling sales – that newspapers' influence has declined further. In the last general election, there was no relationship between the papers' political positions and aggregate votes.

Sure, there is some countervailing evidence. Fox News does seem to have influenced American voters; a neat experiment suggests papers can affect voting; and there's evidence that local papers can encourage turnout and hence improve the vigour of local democracy.

On balance, though, we probably exaggerate the influence of the press. And insofar as this does exist, it's likely that its many infractions against decency are eroding it still further.

Insofar as voters have ideas that we leftists don't like – and in some respects they don't – it is because of cognitive biases which arise without the media's help.

Of course, journalists think that newspapers matter enormously, but then sausage-makers think that sausages matter a lot. We should take neither at their word.

I fear that lefties who fret about the Mail's antics are actually playing into its hands. Like a has-been popstar craving attention, the papers are resorting to ever-more desperate efforts to attract eyeballs. Linkbait is now a business model, and your outrage is their profits.

Let's be clear. The newspaper business is a relatively minor one – the average household spends less each week on papers than it does on fish – which doesn't deserve the attention we give it. 

So what did Viscount Rothermere really believe in? The answer should disturb everyone who loves this country

by Guest     October 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

by David Hodd

On a cold winter’s day, an old man made his way to meet a lifetime admirer. He had exchanged correspondence several times before, but now at last he would meet this “superhuman” in person.

It had been quite an effort to get to this point – he had needed to secure the services of an Austrian Princess, Stephanie Hohenlohe to gain the influence that would allow them to meet, and now here he was, shoulder to shoulder with Adolf Hitler

The year was 1936. The man was Harold Harmsworth a.k.a. 1st Viscount Rothermere. A barrister’s son, he had success with several newspapers, and was now one of the most influential people in the land. He was very active against what he regarded as the pernicious threats of communism and international Jewry. Harmsworth was very critical of those who used “every means financial, social, political and personal to influence British Government Departments” – but only if they were Jewish.

He penned the most notorious articles in British journalism, in support of the British Union of Fascists: “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” he wrote in the Mail, and “Give the Blackshirts a Helping Hand” in the Mirror (which he also owned). He even ran a competition, awarding a prize for the reader who gave the best response to “Why I love the Blackshirts”.

His own view was clear:

“Because Fascism comes from Italy, short-sighted people in this country think they show sturdy national spirit by deriding it.” He went on to criticise those that “have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence”

After congratulating Hitler for invading Czechoslovakia – and urging him on to Romania, Harmsworth continued to exchange telegrams with him at least to July 1939. Meanwhile his newspapers campaigned to prevent large numbers of Jews (like Ralph Milliband for example) from gaining sanctuary.

His son and grandson carried on Harmsworth’s evil legacy – they used the Daily Mail to exert influence as they saw fit, lived colourful lifestyles, and did whatever they could to avoid paying tax. His father once said “Today, the whole idea is that morality is a matter of opinion.”

To what extent the current owner of the Daily Mail Jonathan Harmsworth, inherited the controversial views of his dad, or his antecedents is not fully clear. But he has been happy to live off the inheritance of his media empire, and through that inheritance he enjoys easy access to ministers. His tale is not one of the self-made man favoured by free market thinkers, but one who’s start in life was a silver spoon worth over a billion pounds. He is now thought to be worth less than that.

Despite his British passport, Eton education and his Wiltshire home, he is a Tax Non-Dom. Investigations into his tax status were dropped by none other than David Hartnett himself. This Non-Dom status reveals his hatred for Britons – he has done all he can to avoid contributing towards the upkeep of the armed forces his paper writes so proudly about. He has avoided supporting the education of British children, and likewise support for the the sick and needy has been minimal.

These little acts against our sturdy national spirit reveal a disregard for the nation, and a belief that personal interest trumps all. He is still living with the financial gains of a fascist supporter, and living its poisonous creed. It is in his power to change this, but he does not.

Whilst Jonathan Harmsworth – who lives in a ‘modest’ £40million Mock-Georgian home – publishes articles that talk of ‘socialism’ being the key word for the next Labour government, perhaps ground is indeed now being prepared, to undermine any public support a next Labour government might have.


To be clear, this article is a parody of the original Daily Mail piece attacking Ralph Miliband


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