Ghastly is how I felt as I saw a lethal Panorama report by softly-spoken Darragh MacIntyre on Nigel Farage. As I watched Nigel’s brazen contempt for the EU and his embarrassing behaviour I remembered that great advertisement which the Democrats ran in 1960 against Richard Nixon.
Like Nixon, Farage has a slightly sleazy and flaky look about him - definitely a “nice little runner only one careful owner and because I like your face I’ll knock off fifty quid. OK?” sort of person.
And then, I thought, I must read the Daily Mail and see what’s going on. It was 88 pages long with some 42 stories in the first 40 pages (before we hit travel, property, lots of ads, TV, Sudoku and sport) of which 7 dealt with sex - mostly rape and paedophilia - 7 with politics, mostly anti Tory establishment, and an astounding 14 on health, many lambasting the NHS.
A sample of these
- “Air Passenger in protective suit as ebola fears start to grip the west”
- “Filing your nails daily does more harm than good”
- “Run off four miles to burn off just one bottle of Coke”
- “Piling on the pounds? Blame it on Jet Lag”
- “Don’t call 999 until you’re unconscious, dying man is told”
- “France to curb binge drinking”
But on page 35 - immigration rears
- “Adult asylum seekers pose as teens to get school places”
- “Our right to be here by Park Lane migrants”
There were some rather grumpy arguments between my wife and me about how the paper seemed to use consistently just one ‘typical’ story to stir up general anger about immigration, the NHS or government.
I was very conscious of the Taxi Driver grumble - “and another thing” - and I noticed this, for instance, in the leading article when Cameron’s team were accused of being in danger of making “a mistake they’d made all too often in the past”. Expressions like “All too often, not for the first time and how typical” are key words of negative thinking.
How did I feel? I felt shocking to be honest. This is not company I want to keep or a country I recognise or would want to live in. It’s sterile, cantankerous and permanently discontented. The sun doesn’t shine in Northcliffe House the Mail’s HQ.
And another thing - they really do think “Voting for UKIP will hand keys on No10 to Miliband” (p.19) - source: Lord Ashcroft. And you know, I think they actually want this.
Because then they’ll really have something to complain about.
“That Miliband made a right balls of it - typical!”