How to insult your readership

Submitted by AWL on 21 April, 2015 - 4:40 Author: Harry Davies

I’m under strict editorial instructions to leave the Daily Mail alone this week. Which is the first time anyone’s ever said that to me.

So I lazily rolled across the barricades to the Mirror, a paper I’ve not had much connection with since they stopped running Garth the first time around. But their election coverage is quite interesting, for all sorts of reasons.

It’s primarily geared around people not intending to vote; an admirable move, for sure.

It would appear someone has done some research and created a profile of the sort of person they think doesn’t vote and then calculated the optimal manner to be as patronising as possible to them.

The online election coverage starts with the explanation that David Cameron is the Prime Minister and that Ed Miliband is Leader of the Opposition. And that’s pretty much it. There’s just a big font paragraph at the top of the page with those facts and the date of the election. In case YOU’RE A BIT SLOW and need HELP WITH THE POLITICS. Perhaps the person given the brief of “making ordinary people feel that they understand politics again” has never actually met an ordinary person.

I felt a bit mean making fun of that so I went further in. There’s an explanation of why you shouldn’t listen to Russell Brand when he tells you not to vote (I’m not sure that was actually what he was doing, but I lost track and patience with the whole sorry Brand business about two years ago).

According to the Mirror you shouldn’t listen to Brand because it will make you an idiot. There’s a short account of the origins of the word and a picture of a statue with a speech balloon saying “You’re an idiot.”

The site says elsewhere, “voting is the only stick we have to beat them with”. Well no. As I’ve spent the last few days telling people, we don’t really need a stick to beat anyone with right now, just effective unions and a Labour Party that isn’t all bashful about the working class. But I’m overstepping my brief now. So just allow me to warn you that a “Downton Abbey star says missing your vote is shameful”. Which is really telling it like it is.

But the Mirror’s also gone all out to represent all the parties, providing summaries of the main issues and agendas. They include the Greens and Ukip so they are at least putting more effort in than some of the other tabloids.

This is not unbiased reporting — the Tories are getting their support (example headline, “Tory lies will kill NHS”). I’m half delighted by this; only half delighted though, as there is no challenge to Labour’s current policies.

There’s a lot of cautious SNP-love going on as well. Not making any statements for them, but using a range of respectful tones when referring to Nicola Sturgeon and citing an online poll which has 58% of Mirror readers liking the idea of a Labour/SNP coalition.

And, inevitably there’s a lot of Miliband family man stuff. How Ralph Miliband liked to tell bedtime stories about sheep (and they were Yorkshire sheep, so I’m happy). It’s a shame that there weren’t bedtime stories about the capitalist state and workers’ control. Ed Miliband is quoted as saying that his children have a sense that there is an election coming “and we are the red team”.

True, but only in terms of visual branding.

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