The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail have decided to throw their paper’s clout behind the campaign for Britain to leave the EU. As a result, there have been a number of variously creative stories run over recent days intended to persuade all those readers that they should vote to leave, some of which have veered straight across the creativity median and into the dishonesty zone.
This excursion into post-reality journalism has been illustrated superbly by today’s Mail front page splash, which tells “As politicians squabble over border controls, yet another lorry load of migrants arrives in UK declaring … WE’RE FROM EUROPE - LET US IN!” Thus another attempt to equate the EU’s principle of free movement of people with refugee movements as a result of conflict in the Middle East.
The article in support of this headline was all that Dacre could have wished for (probably because it was cobbled together on his direct order). Readers learnt “Squeezed in among storage boxes, another lorry load of migrants sneak into Britain … The 11 stowaways - three of them children - were intercepted by police in east London yesterday. Asked where they were from, they replied: ‘Europe.’" And there was more.
“The dramatic pictures emerged as the Tories were accused of being in referendum chaos over border controls. George Osborne insisted there would be no change to European Union rules on freedom of movement … But only hours later Theresa May declared further reform was needed … Brexit campaigners said the Home Secretary had blown a huge hole in the case to Remain by effectively admitting the Government's renegotiation with Brussels was inadequate”. And the objective of this piece is what, exactly?
As if you needed to ask: “Under the free movement edict, 500million EU citizens enjoy free access to the UK. This will continue if Britain votes to Remain on June 23”. But there was one teensy problem with the Mail’s attempt to suggest that voting Remain means lots of people arriving in lorries - it wasn’t true. Minor point, eh?
Had the group in the lorry actually been “from Europe”, they would not have had to enter the UK in that way - they could have just rocked up at any airport, Eurostar station or ferry terminal, bought tickets and showed their EU member state passports. This group was not “from Europe”. It was from the Middle East. We know because they said so.
The BBC’s Daniel Sandford was quite clear when he Tweeted “Only one problem with the Daily Mail front page. I've listened to the video, and people in lorry clearly say ‘We're from Iraq’”. And that is why they stowed away in the back of a lorry. They are not “migrants”, they are not “from Europe”, they are refugees from Middle Eastern conflicts.
Had the BBC - or, indeed, any other broadcaster, dropped such an elementary clanger, the Mail would have been down on them like the proverbial tonne of bricks. But there will be no swift or willing retraction from Paul Dacre or any of his doggies.
The Mail has been caught deliberately lying in order to advance its agenda. And it will just carry on doing so. Being Paul Dacre means never having to say you’re sorry.