The Daily Mail has a problem with the Tory-led coalition. It’s gone too far and some of its policies are not what they expected from David Cameron.
Does the Mail think the cuts, or the reforms of the NHS have gone too far? No. The target of their fury is the impeccably Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Conservative MP Philip Davies captured just how serious the problem in the Mail on Sunday (24 January 2011) “In many respects, Theresa May is as bad as Harriet Harman.” In Mailworld that’s about as bad as it gets.
It is the fact that Harman’s Equality Act is being left on the statute book that alows the Mail to breathe new life into their old gripe about “political correctness gone mad”. Their front page read: “Equality madness: Government spends £30m to discover whether preserving fish stocks harms ethnic Chinese, or hovercraft discriminate against gays”.
There are probably too many words and too much information in this headline for it to have the desired impact on the average bigot, but the story that followed was a “special investigation” into a litany of loony projects paid for out of tax-payer’s money in the name of equality.
As always a close reading with a half-way functioning brain revealed that most of the projects were unremarkable equality checks or blindingly obvious protections against discrimination and harassment. And not particularly expensive. When, for example, a scheme to fund home insulation for low-income families was cut, the Department of Energy and Climate carried out an audit to assess whether various minority groups would be particularly disadvantaged. Outrageous.
Basically the Mail has just spotted that the Equality Act now requires employers to carry out an “equality impact assessment” when they introduce new initiatives. To all but those already predisposed to be hostile to “equal opportunities” the Mail has come up with a pretty disappointing set of mad examples.
However some of the work they do list reveals how little the Mail has moved from its hateful, poisonous tradition. “Another Home Office initiative ‘Blow The Whistle On Gay Hate,’” they report, “encourages victims of homophobia to go to the police”. They quote the very charming Philip Davies again, “This is the kind of politically corrupt drivel that we had come to expect from Harriet Harman and the previous Government, but it is the type of thing that makes the public’s blood boil and it is a complete waste of everyone’s time and money.”
So there’s a new revelation for you. The Mail has decided to go soft on crime. As long, that is, as the crime is directed at gay people, immigrants, Muslims or asylum seekers.
Postscript: It wouldn’t be fair to claim that the Mail is not concerned with the rights of minorities or the oppressed however. Elsewhere it has been very keen to make a stand for an unfortunate couple who had their dearest beliefs and principles trampled on by the state: the Christian couple, Peter and Hazelmary Bull who were forced to pay £3,600 in damages to a gay couple to whom they refused to rent a room in their Bed and Breakfast in Cornwall.
The paper presented the saga as one of the persecution of Christians, a group which was being “pushed to the margins of society” rather than one of vile prejudice against two men on the basis of their sexuality.
Really? But doesn’t the Head of State have to belong to this group? Doesn’t it have guaranteed seats in the House of Lords? And a regular five minute slot on the most listened-to radio news programme every morning of the week?
Not important. You see the downtrodden Bulls had to rely on donations from the Christian Institute and “are struggling to pay debts”. Steven Preddy and Martin Hall, the gay couple involved, “were supported by the taxpayer-funded state equality body the Equality and Human Rights Commission”. So not only have “the gays” won out over the Christians but we the taxpayer are paying for it.
But are we really? According to the Mail Mr and Mrs Bull are “facing financial ruin” because they have been “ordered to pay most of the costs of the commission’” Well that’s a relief. There is some justice in this sorry tale.