It’s that time of the week when I read the Mail and whimper slightly.
I skipped past an article on polyamory (“‘The man who lives with two girlfriends!”‘) because they had made me feel angry enough about their coverage on mental health last week and it’s starting to feel a bit personal.
Anyway, party politics dominates, but the Mail is still insisting on not being insistent about anything.
First up, the heartwarming sight of Farage meeting a man who speaks no English.”‘Awkward!”‘ squawks the strapline, leading into a report of the UKIP leader’s promise not to send EU migrants home if he’s elected. It’s unclear as to whether this counts for or against him in the eyes of the Mail, but time will tell; sooner or later, they will have to decide to support one of the parties, surely?
Cameron doesn’t come off much better. There’s a report of a ukulele player telling him to fuck off. Sadly, it wasn’t Amanda Palmer. But the report stresses (and illustrates) the “‘dull”‘ nature of the Tory campaign saying it’s out of touch with “‘ordinary voters”‘. It seems they are flying into a spat with every politician going. Farage “‘brought to a halt”‘, Cameron told “‘he’s not welcome”‘; surely they aren’t going to support “‘Red”‘ Ed?
I do love the way the press have taken this particular nickname right to their collective heart. I don’t know where they got the idea from. At this point, I was planning on launching into a long and convoluted humorous series of similes to explain the irony in suggesting a socialist connection to Milliband, but life is too short. So I’ve prepared more of a statement:
In my opinion, Ed Milliband is not really a proper socialist, in the accepted sense of the word. He’s certainly not a Marxist, a Trot or a Bolshevik. Please stop calling him “‘Red”‘. It makes him sound like a baseball player in the 1930s.
However, the Mail has not let me down. Ed too gets slagged off. “‘Nightmare for Milliband!”‘ they shout, as they report half of Scottish voters saying they will vote SNP. They also pull off the trick of writing an article all about Labour’s election promises (“‘Energy price cap/reduced class sizes/free childcare”‘) only focusing on the Institute for Fiscal Studies warning that these spending plans represent a “‘big unknown”‘.
I love this phrase. It’s a beautiful piece of subtly emotive writing, designed to make its target audience feel threatened by some terrible mysterious, shadowy Kraken.
The big unknown is Ed’s refusal to set a date for “‘balancing the books”‘ as they quaintly put it. But no-one (outside a particularly dull accountancy-themed circus) has balanced the books in this country in a very long time, if ever. It’s the nature of capitalism. You know, debt.
So what have I learnt this week? The Mail has shifted from skirting the issue to laying into pretty much everyone, apart from the Lib Dems and the Greens, both of whom get boring sideline mentions here and there. I imagine that the aim is to appeal to the angry soul of middle England, grumping and snarling over the papers at breakfast, as if everyone lived in some demented postwar sitcom horror. People who like to rant “‘All the bloody same, not worth voting for any of them”‘.
And I didn’t even mention the article that analyses party success based on the popularity/appeal of leaders’ wives. I didn’t mention it because I have a very low despair threshold. It refers to these four women as “‘the wives”‘ and gave me the crawling horrors so much that I actually went and re-read the polyamory article. It turns out to be surprisingly positive.
I feel so much better now that the Mail approves of me.