Home > Uncategorized > Daily Mail editorial, 25th November 2011

Daily Mail editorial, 25th November 2011

Yesterday, in the course of giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry, Max Mosley made series of observations about the editor of this newspaper, and some accusations about Associated Newspapers, our parent company. Earlier in the week, other witnesses alluded to our tendency to employ columnists in our newspaper to attack those who challenged us. Indeed, in these very pages on Tuesday, we accused Hugh Grant of using ‘mendacious smears’ about Associated Newspapers in his evidence to the inquiry.

We had intended to use this column to rebut Mr Mosley’s rather colourful claims, and to rail once more against the celebrities who have lined up to besmirch us in public. However, late last night, as a very different piece was about to go to print, we remembered the immortal words that Alan Shearer muttered to Glenn Hoddle in the England football team’s dressing room back in 1998: Have you ever thought it might be you?

Looking back over the past thirty years, we have witnessed the United Kingdom undergo a drastic and unsavoury personality change. In the past, our nation could be characterised by its tolerance, politeness, respect of others’ privacy and opinions, and a determination to uphold the highest ethical and moral standards. These values became synonymous with our nation: the English (or Welsh, or Scottish) gentleman was acknowledged across the globe to behave in a manner that could be held up as an example of enlightened, civilised conduct. We were an admirable bunch: slow to accept change, maybe, and innately conservative, but always with a small ‘c’. Our overriding values were enshrined in the concept of decency; to do as one would be done by.

Then, something changed. And this newspaper must accept some of the blame for this.

We have spent much of these three decades with a permanent sneer across our masthead; only too happy to blame perceived wrongs within our nation on the failings of others. We have campaigned against the rights of workers who have formed the country’s backbone, supporting those who have trampled on the values that enabled our people to live peaceably, side-by-side, since 1945. We have traduced the reputations of health workers and teachers, a largely selfless group of people who have dedicated their lives to their vocations rather than the pursuit of profit.

We have directed our ire towards some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society: single mothers, many of whom through no fault of their own have been left to raise children without a partner, have been demonised and scorned. Asylum seekers and immigrants, guilty of nothing more than seeking a better life for their families, have been characterised as spongers and wasters, and accused of stealing ‘our’ jobs. As if we’re not a nation of immigrants.

We have paid the salaries of Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Phillips and many more; asked them to foment anger, jealousy, viciousness and hate, and wondered why the standard of public discourse in our nation has descended to such depths.

While producing a newspaper aimed predominantly at women, we have pursued an agenda that can only be described as anti-feminist; printing invasive photos of public figures in private places, then sneering at their body shape, age or the status of their relationships, as though these were the only characteristics that defined them.

After the death of Princess Diana, we railed against paparazzo while continuing to buy their pictures; we have hounded decent people in a way that is clearly indefensible, intruded on personal grief and found ourselves tied in such hypocritical knots that it would take a year’s worth of ‘corrections and clarifications’ to undo the damage we have wrought.

Our values have shaped our nation’s values. As a result, a generation has grown up thinking that they should look out for themselves and only themselves, and that anyone who lives their life ourside of our narrowly drawn parameters is ‘to blame’. For what, we’re not sure.

The person who pushes past you to take the last seat on the train; the smug driver causing chaos by parking where they shouldn’t; the parent berating their child’s teacher for ‘teaching instead of doing’…in all likelihood, they buy our newspaper. And while we may simply reflect opinions they already hold, by reaffirming their prejudices and stoking resentment, we have contributed to a noticeable decline in the standards of behaviour in the United Kingdom.

As it happens, Mr Dacre is partial to a woman in a bikini: he’s a red-blooded man of a certain age and he’s relucant to take medication. And, ironically, Alan Shearer maintains that, like Glenn Hoddle,  “he never said them things.”

But we did. And for that, we are sorry.

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