It was St George’s Day last week, so I decided to have a look at the Daily Express, the paper which still uses a crusader-esque knight errant as its logo, complete with English flag shield.
It was immediately apparent that they’re doing a good job defending the nation, since the paper has identified an insidious threat: “Trident nuclear submarines to be moved to Gibraltar under SNP threat” their headline howled. “Threat” is the sort of language the Express has used to describe the KGB/IRA/Taliban/Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone, so it’s great to see the SNP taking part in the undermining of Rupert Bear and the British way of life.
The Express is terrified of an Labour/SNP pact, but they are terrified most of the time. “Oh no! Taxes will be £12 billion higher under Labour warn experts” is actually a story about the think tank, IFS, saying they think Labour might raise taxes or something.I love the way it’s phrased; as if everyone will get a £12 billion final demand on the doormat the second “Red” Ed gets his hands on the burglar alarm code to Number 10.
Boris Johnson “attacks Ed Miliband in a fiery TV clash”. Let’s think logically; it’s Ed and Boris. It’s not going to have been fiery. It’s barely going to have been TV. This little fracas was over Labour's rent cap policies which Boris says will discourage people from being landlords and lead to a housing shortage. Presumably, this is a different housing shortage to the one we’re currently living through, the one in which we have plenty of houses, but all too expensive to live in.
It’s no great surprise that the Express is laying into Labour; what’s chilling is the tendency to lay into the Tories, if UKIP look like they need defending. “Tory standing against Farage runs website that helps EU migrants claim tax credits” makes it sound like an evil benefit tourist scam crimelord kind of deal. In fact, it’s a Conservative candidate with a website that advices non-UK residents on how to claim perfectly legal tax credits that they might not have known about.
In a big list of unpleasant things done by Conservative candidates, it’s not really that exciting, is it? Just another bit of capitalism bubbling away in the background somewhere. Smearing opponents to support Farage is a scary sign of the way the Express seems to be wandering, far more than any other tabloid.
And, to finish, a groundbreaking and shocking story: 40% of people surveyed believe that Labour plans to scrap grammar schools. Horrors! Imagine! They’ll be getting rid of hanging next and bringing in commercial television.
We need to remember the big picture; these attitudes and worse, exist. Labour will not counter them with strong arguments for a socialist alternative. A decent union-led Labour party will. That’s what we’re campaigning for.