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Tuesday 29 March 2011

Telegraph – Quality Deception

Europe is in the news again – at least, in the papers that want to demonise the EU, and that means the Express, with the quality critique coming from the Maily Telegraph. The story in both titles is a white paper considering a “Single European Transport Area”.

The Express, predictably, is characteristically unsubtle and loads its headline with routine abuse: “Round The Bend, Now The EU Wants To Ban Cars From Every City”. The piece then continues “Petrol and diesel cars could be banned from European cities”, which is not the same thing.

In any case, the white paper doesn’t say that anyone wants to ban anything. And the idea of a top-down diktat is hard to stand up when wording like “it is for individual cities to decide on the appropriate transport mix for their area” is used. This, though, is unlikely to pacify the Express, where the spectre of road pricing is also used to frighten readers.

But here, too, a look at the white paper shows that it is up to individual member states to decide: “Member States will be free to apply these charges” it tells anyone who is listening.

So the Express frightener is easily debunked, but not so the Maily Telegraph: here the real quality Euro-scare enters. Under the by-line of “Bruno Waterfield, Brussels”, who I’m sure is not on the gravy train, the one-two combination is deftly executed. First he hits readers with “a ‘single European transport area’ aimed at enforcing ‘a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers’ by 2050”.

No abuse in the title is necessary: all that Waterfield needs is to slip in the key word “enforcing”. Thus there is diktat, compulsion, as well as the usual Euro-frighteners like people talking foreign. Then comes the second punch, as we are informed “The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys over 186 miles should be by rail”.

So now Waterfield has his readers firmly on-side, hostile to the white paper, and all by invention. There is no element of “enforcing” in the document, and nothing about ending “cheap holiday flights” – he just made that up. The EU was behind deregulation of internal air travel in the first place: the idea that it would perform a volte face is absurd.

There is, of course, an element of fact – the 50 per cent was of “passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport”. But the Maily Telegraph, with a subtle yet fraudulent approach, has already conned its readers, and is way more effective then the Express in getting its anti-EU propaganda across.

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