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Response to sharedvalues (Reply #9)

Sat Mar 25, 2017, 01:47 PM

10. T_i_B's already answered with some of what I would have said.

The Mail is owned by the 4th Viscount Rothermere, an old-money billionaire registered as non-domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. Possibly more significant is the stance of its editor, Paul Dacre, an arch-eurosceptic who's a millionaire because he makes about £1.5 million a year from his post (he also relies on European agricultural subsidies to support his numerous major landholdings in the UK, but that's just one of the ironies in the whole situation).

Murdoch owns the Sun, Sun on Sunday, The Times and The Sunday Times, and part-owns the Press Association.

The Express is owned by porn millionaire Richard Desmond, who runs a really trashy tabloid and is as rabid a supporter of Brexit (and UKIP) as you'll find.

The Telegraph is owned by the weird reclusive twins the Barclay brothers, who're very rightwing, and split their time between Monaco and the private island of Brecqhou, just off the small Channel Island of Sark. They deny being tax exiles, and have claimed they live abroad for "health reasons".

Of the rest of the media, the BBC's supposed impartiality has been stretched over the years. It would be unfair to label it "Eurosceptic", but it's given loads of airtime to Nigel Farage and the crackpot ideas he spouts, out of all proportion to UKIP's political support in the country. The other broadcast media have played a similar role.

The problem's been that the EU's been a handy scapegoat/distraction for all sorts of UK national ills over the years in just about all the media - lots of stupid myths have gained currency, from the infamous (non-existent) edict on the acceptable degree of straightness of bananas downward. That's one way our current Foreign Secretary (roughly equivalent to the US Secretary of State) Boris Johnson made his name when he was a journalist supposedly covering the EU. This was what an ex-colleague of his, Martin Fletcher, wrote when Johnson was on the Remain side (before he opportunistically turned coat because he saw that - and being on the heroically losing Leave side, as was expected at the time - as his best chance of becoming Prime Minister):

Johnson, sacked by The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quote, made his mark in Brussels not through fair and balanced reporting, but through extreme euro-scepticism. He seized every chance to mock or denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also grotesquely exaggerated or completely untrue.

The Telegraph loved it. So did the Tory Right. Johnson later confessed: 'Everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power.'

Johnsonís reports also had an amazing, explosive effect on the rest of Fleet Street. They were much more fun than the usual dry and rather complex Brussels fare. News editors on other papers, particularly but not exclusively the tabloids, started pressing their own correspondents to match them. By the time I arrived in Brussels editors only wanted stories about faceless Brussels eurocrats imposing absurd rules on Britain, or scheming Europeans ganging up on us, or British prime ministers fighting plucky rearguard actions against a hostile continent.

Much of Fleet Street seemed unable to view the EU through any other prism. It was the only narrative it was interested in. Stories that did not bash Brussels, stories that acknowledged the EUís many achievements, stories that recognised that Britain had many natural allies in Europe and often won important arguments, almost invariably ended up on the spike.


I've seen other reports that his colleagues in the European press lobby saw Johnson as a total buffoon, and competed with each other to feed him crazy (fictitious) scoops, which he duly reported without bothering to check, and then became firm urban myths.

European elections traditionally don't have great turnout in the UK, which opened the door to the likes of UKIP to build a power base of sorts there - one (along with a major source of funding, some of which it's currently facing major lawsuits about) it will lose on Brexit, which is another irony.

In the face of all this, a facile case for Leave wasn't hard to make, and the positive case (even realistically guarded - the EU's not perfect, of course) struggled to gain traction.

Couple that with the fact that it's evident that a lot of the Leave vote in certain areas was driven by anti-Establishment sentiments, plus there was little expectation that Leave would win, and the stage was set for a classic protest vote.

The last nail in the coffin was the stupidly simple-minded framing of the ballot paper and no setting of a threshold proportion of the vote for enactment (it was supposedly only an advisory referendum, though to scare voters with the importance of their vote, Cameron included a statement on the paper that the government would go along with whatever was decided). People could tick a bald Leave or Remain, that's it.

That's left it open for politicians on the Leave side to claim a mandate for whatever they want ("The people have spoken", including a hard Brexit (i.e. no trade deals with the EU, a complete severing), whereas the Leave pundits all along scoffed publicly at any idea that the UK would leave the Single Market and called it scaremongering.

And here we are.

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
T_i_B Mar 2017 OP
Jonny Appleseed Mar 2017 #1
T_i_B Mar 2017 #3
Jonny Appleseed Mar 2017 #4
T_i_B Mar 2017 #5
LeftishBrit Mar 2017 #13
shraby Mar 2017 #2
Denzil_DC Mar 2017 #6
sharedvalues Mar 2017 #7
T_i_B Mar 2017 #8
sharedvalues Mar 2017 #9
LineLineLineLineLineLineNew Reply T_i_B's already answered with some of what I would have said.
Denzil_DC Mar 2017 #10
sharedvalues Mar 2017 #11
Denzil_DC Mar 2017 #12
LeftishBrit Mar 2017 #14
LeftishBrit Mar 2017 #15
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