After the blog entries Three EU scenarios for Britain and UK in EU: On the way out, send in the clowns? we turned to the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and public opinion in the United Kingdom with regard to the European Union.
Our point of departure is the competent study by Vivien Pertusot, the head of the Brussels office of Ifri, Institut français des relations internationales (French Institute of International Relations)–@VPertusot on Twitter. The Ifri note (in English) is downloadable here: In Europe, not ruled by Europe: Tough love between Britain and the EU, of March 2013.
About the British newspaper propaganda for secession, I leave the description to Pertusot (page 17): “Any European reading the UK press will undoubtedly note two traits: how much the media talk about Europe and how negative the tone usually is. It is difficult to quantify how influential the media are in shaping public opinion, but it does not help the cause for Europe that the UK press constantly criticises every nut and bolt in the EU.”
“In the UK, four media owners are known to hold eurosceptic positions, Rupert Murdoch (The Times, The Sun), Richard Desmond (The Express, The Star), the Barclay brothers (The Daily Telegraph), and the Daily Mail and General Trust. In September 2012, these titles accounted for the circulation of 74.1%, about 6.4 million copies, of British daily newspapers.”
‘Not negligable’ is certainly correct, but my impression is less hesitant with regard to the effects. I see the sustained campaigns by anti-EU mass market papers as deliberately distorting and poisoning public opinion, preparing the ground for secession (Brexit).
Queen Boudica would envy the hero status these newspapers have conferred on ”independence fighters” such as Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan, as well as columnists, reporters and campaigns prepared to drag the public down to their level.
Using the force of gravity is not very demanding intellectually, but while vilifying the eurozone and the wider European Union as undemocratic and anti-democratic these people vehemently battle every step towards democratic reform of political Europe.
After being misquoted, the Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski remarked on slipping media standards at The Daily Telegraph.
Compare what has become standard UK political discourse on Europe with the civilising speech of the German federal president Joachim Gauck.
And I remind you of the simple test you could make on UK politicians.