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Pony Express trot out more anti-immigration stories

The Express: taking the lowest common denominator much lower

Those Diana-botherers, the Daily Express, might require attention from men in flapping white coats soon, judging by today’s front page splash, with the headline: “LABOUR SAY WE ARE ALL RACISTS.”

There’s only one very small problem – and we don’t want to nitpick here – but there isn’t any evidence in the article that Labour are saying anyone is a racist.

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In fact, although the article quotes Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch and the Conservative’s home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling, neither of them are making the accusation either.

But, as we say, just a very small point there…

Unfortunately, the lack of evidence to stand up their headline did not deter the Express from warming to their theme:

Ministers were urged to ignore voters’ “racist” views and press ahead with a secret policy to encourage migrants to flood into Britain. Whitehall experts even proposed a major propaganda campaign to soften up voters in preparation for the mass influx of newcomers.”

The report in question – a never-published internal Whitehall document from 2000 – appears to say that the public prefer tougher border controls (a statement of the obvious, surely) but the then-imminent expansion of the European Union would mean that more immigrants would come to Britain anyway.

A more accurate headline would therefore be: “TEN YEARS AGO OFFICIALS ADVISED MINISTERS THAT THE PUBLIC WANTED TOUGHER BORDER CONTROLS.”

UK is full up, apparently. But not Posh Spice.

But that doesn’t quite have the same snappy ring to it. So full marks to the Express for spin.

The paper could have bolstered their case slightly by actually quoting the report, but chose not to trouble their readers with it.

However in the spirit of glasnost, here is an excerpt from the report:

The most negative attitudes [towards immigrants] are found among those who have relatively little direct contact with migrants, but see them as a threat”.

This statement could just as easily apply to the journalists and sub-editors at The Express. In fact the paper’s editor, Peter Hill, told a committee of MPs in 2007 that he had never met an asylum seeker in his life.

The same ignorance is probably true of the paper’s even-more downmarket stablemate, The Star, which last year ran an article headlined “BURKA OFF” next to a picture of a woman wearing a hijab.

The Star reported that: ” A massive 96% of Daily Star readers who called our phone vote demanded the outlawing of the Muslim masks in the UK.”

Although, as Private Eye regularly point out, phone votes and reader competitions run by Richard Desmond’s newspapers are not always what they seem.

Turning back to today’s Express article, who, exactly, is the “we” they refer to in the headline?

And could this possibly be the same “we” that keeps popping up in articles by Jon Gaunt in The Sun, whenever he’s talking about the public’s attitude to immigration?

There are a lot of assumptions built into that two-letter word.

Of course the Star and Express win prizes for being the newspapers most obsessed with immigration – it’s a staple front page subject for both of them – but luckily they also share the honour of being the least credible publications available for sale that are not handed over the newsagents counter in a brown paper bag.

Although there are plenty of top-shelf magazines published by Desmond that do fit into that category.

We thoroughly recommend that the Express and Star stop making a complete hash of anti-immigration articles (other publications do this with so much more class) , and stick to what they are good at: articles suggesting a conspiracy to murder Diana, Princess of Hearts.

By Lester Holloway

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