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Wednesday 13 March 2013

More Telegraph Quality EU Deception

[Update at end of post]

As I observed when the Maily Telegraph tried to pull a fast one over EU transport strategy – falsely asserting that the low cost flights used by the paper’s second home owning readership would be abolished – other papers can’t hold a candle to their Brussels point man Bruno Waterfield when it comes to passing off whoppers as if they had some basis in fact.

And yesterday he was at it again, taking the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre along with him as a fresh and steaming pile of bullpucky was released, this time on the subject of election dates. “British tradition of voting on Thursday could be overturned by Europe” Waterfield proclaims, and there is, helpfully, a contribution from Nigel “Thirsty” Farage.

So readers know exactly what to think. Even comments by Europe minister David Lidington are framed to suggest some kind of angry and outraged reaction, whereas all he is doing is pointing out that the UK will continue to hold elections on a Thursday, and that several other EU member states also retain a preference for voting on days that are not Sunday (the allegedly proposed day).

In fact, as Waterfield concedes later in his article – after the Tel’s outraged readership has already made up its mind, naturally – eight of the other 26 member stated do not have their European polls on a Sunday. And this alleged proposal only applies to those elections, although Farage manages to assert it will include local elections and get it reported without comeback.

So what of the Mail? You’ll love this: “Now Brussels wants us to hold elections on SUNDAYS to bring Britain in line with the rest of Europe” thunders the headline. And, as the man said, there’s more: “Britain could be forced to hold European elections on Sundays as part of a blatant EU bid to erase our long democratic tradition”. Ah, the voice of reason and moderation.

But what of the reality here? Once more, the facts do not support the hype: “The UK cannot be ‘forced’ to hold the 2014 European elections on Sundays. The European Commission ... has no powers to – and does not want to – force anyone to do thisadvises the European Commission in the UK, with another in the long series of “Euromyth” busting posts.

Yes, Waterfield’s whole story is bunk, and not for the first time. But some pundits clearly don’t care, so long as it suits their agenda, so Dan, Dan the Oratory Man has already taken the alleged Thursday to Sunday switch as fact, adding “We have abandoned our first-past-the-post system for party lists”, another blatant lie to add to his three in five minutes on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).

But it frightens the readers, and that’s more important than giving them the facts.

[UPDATE 1640 hours: Bruno Waterfield has been at it again this afternoon, as MEPs have rejected the budget deal agreed recently by leaders of EU member states.

"MEPs reject EU spending cuts and demand extra £1.7 billion from British taxpayers" is his headline. So that's a fact, is it?

Well, no it isn't: the text of the article reads "could cost the British taxpayer up to £1.7 billion in extra contributions". And that includes the figure zero.

Added to the initial Waterfield whopper are assertions that the UK would be "stripped" of its veto (untrue) and that there had been a demand to create new taxes to fund the EU's budget (ditto).

But readers are already apoplectic about this supposed news. Chances are it will make its way onto the Express front page tomorrow, which will be a sight to see. Only in the small print is it admitted that UKIP were among those voting against. Presumably Roger Helmer woke up especially for the vote]

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