The news as told by the UK’s tabloid press – The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Star and News of the World.
This pesky tabloids have upset Prince Harry. Not settling with suing the Mail on Sunday over its reports on his wife and her family, the Mirror and Sun. Gossip sells papers. But it seems that only the right sort of gossip pleases Harry, what he calls “responsible” gossip.
Harry v the tabloids. The tab love a fight. Does Harry?
“For years and years the royals have been a free shot for the press,” says the founder of Hacked Off, a campaign group which represents phone-hacking victims. “This man has suffered very badly because of that – we know what happened to his mother. I think we’ve moved on from the idea that celebrities are not entitled to privacy. The duke and duchess need to draw a line, they’ve had years of abuse.”
Byline says Harry’s latest claim to do with the papers allegedly hacking his phone.
Should the claim against the Sun and Mirror reach court we can expect to see editors and Harry in the dock. Indeed. Time to get courtroom doings live on the telly. A nation will be gripped.
Is Prince Harry a celebrity, an activist or a royal? Right now he’s a litigant, suing the Mail on Sunday for allegedly “bullying” his wife, Meghan.
Harry and his acolytes often portray the Sussexes as victims. “Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better,” opined US TV host Ellen DeGeneres. “The way people treat her [Meghan] is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while,” echoed the pop star Pink.
Harry, and presumably Meghan, are upset by the paper’s decision to publish a handwritten letter from Meghan to her father, Thomas Markle, sent shortly after she and Prince Harry got married in 2018. Did you read it? Was it interesting? Good gossip? How did the Mail on Sunday come by it?
Harry’s eye-wateringly expensive lawyers claim the paper and its parent company misused private information, infringed copyright and breached the Data Protection Act 2018. The Mail on Sunday’s report, they allege, was a crime. Ah, so now you want to read it. Nothing sells like contraband and scandal. (The paper denies any wrongdoing.)
Says Harry in a long statement:
As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.
Harry, a democrat in a crown, wants the media to be responsible? What does that mean? Shouldn’t the media be daring, proactive and print what the rich and powerful don’t want you to know? Isn’t the rest just PR?
This is Harry who takes private jets to reach the pulpit from where he preaches about the need to conserve the planet’s resources. “Harry said that he often woke up and felt overwhelmed by too many problems in the world and that sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the mornings because of all the issues, but he wanted to use their platform to enable grass-roots change and to try and create a better society,” South African student Peter Oki, 18, told a Daily Telegraph reporter.
Harry is a man besieged. You could place a small pea under Harry’s mattress and he’d not get a wink of sleep.
“Every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference,” Harry and Meghan guffed on Instagram. They could have added ‘yours’ not ‘ours’. It’s not easy being green when you’re dipped in gold.
Under the headline “Tough Life“, one publication looked at Harry’s campaign for eco-tourism – which given his jet-set lifestyle and palacial homes – the taxpayer generously paid £2.4m to do up their ‘official’ residence – sounded a bit too much telling the oiks to know our place:
His comments followed a summer of controversy after it emerged that he and Meghan had taken four private jets in the space of 11 days to cruise between London, a super-premium villa in Ibiza, and Elton John’s fabulous home in the south of France.
Days before news of the private flights leaked out, Harry, in the course of a lengthy interview with Vogue, had fretted about global warming and pledged to only have two children for environmental reasons.
Harry and Meghan’s high-carbon habits were in stark contrast to William and Kate, who took their family to Scotland on a budget airline.
And now he’s suing the press. He’s upset that the same people he wants to reduce their carbon footprints – replace sun-kissed package trips to the Spanish costas with a drab weekend on a British camp site – get their news in the tabloids. Harry, an ambulatory laser light, wants the tabloids be be “responsible”. He wants readers to only see “responsible” things.
The tabloids love a fight. And many readers love the tabloids. Harry may well have picked the wrong battle. He adds – and look out for his desire to rescue us, the slack-jawed dolts, from the written word sent downmarket:
I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.
This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.
The Mail on Sunday spokesperson tells everyone: “We categorically deny that the duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”
The rest of us might wonder if the purpose of the monarchy is to bind the nation, entertain us or protect the plebs from knowing too much. And we would if we were not too busy working…
Fallout from the Sun’s story on Ben Stokes “secret family tragedy” was loud and vociferous. The cricketer and a personal hero of mine, was the subject of a story about a horrific crime that cost the lives of two of his close relatives three years before his birth.
One Twitter #DontBuyTheSun was trending. Twitter was on the side of Stokes, who used the platform to issue a reaction:
Hacked Off – “Campaigning for a free and accountable press which works for all of us” – wanted a slice of the action:
Clearly, the story was not to everyone’s taste. But to argue the story of a brutal crime is not of interest to the public is bunkum. We don’t need a gatekeeper to tell us what we are fit to know.
The Mirror and the Daily Star, both owned by Reach, picked up on the Sun’s old news. But following the blowback they deleted their online stories. The Mirror then published a story on Stokes’ “furious” comments about the Sun.
The Sun didn’t lie. It reported facts. It chose a moment when Stokes was newsworthy and a household name to publish a story 3 years told. Scoop? Not a bit of it. Sensation? Lots.
What of the Right To Forget, which ‘enables claimants to request the removal of links to irrelevant or outdated online information about them’? Was the crime so old it need not be repeated? I once received one from a convicted paedophile who wanted their name expunged from website I was editing. The argument was that they’d served their time and their name being on the web was causing them great upset. Another time, a victim of a crime asked for their name to be ‘forgotten’. Which name, if either, would you have edited from existence?
When you make your request, we will balance the privacy rights of the individual concerned with the interest of the general public in having access to the information, as well as the right of others to distribute the information. For example, we may decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.
Does the crime leading to the Ben Stokes story deserve to be forgotten? Is it unethical to repeat the case? The Sun argues:
“The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes and his mother but it is only right to point out the story was told with the co-operation of a family member who supplied details, provided photographs and posed for pictures. The tragedy is also a matter of public record and was the subject of extensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time. The Sun has huge admiration for Ben Stokes and we were delighted to celebrate his sporting heroics this summer. He was contacted prior to publication and at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story.”
Such are the facts…
Hear about the boy “blinded by chips and sausages”? Or as the BBC’s headline puts it, a little more accurately: “Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips.”
The tabloid’s headline conjures all kinds of images (see above). But the story is less bizarre. The 17-year-old has long-standing eating issues for which he sought help. And for that we can only feel sympathy. Things got so bad that the lack of nutrients affected his vision. His diet is a composite mix of: French fries, Pringles, white bread, the occasional slice of ham or a sausage.
Truth is that the sausage might well be the heartiest thing he ate. Sausage did not make the teenager blind.
The boy’s visit to the Bristol Eye Hospital is recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at the hospital, notes: “His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. He also used to snack on crisps – Pringles – and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables. He explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat. He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision. That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces. He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision.”
Sausages are innocent. Mental health should not be mocked.
When Boris Johnson met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the outcome was, depending on your spin, a pledge to do a Brexit deal in 30 days or a threat to end it all after just 30 days. The backstop – the hope of avoiding a hard Irish border – can be re-negotiated. Maybe.
But as big as the story of politicking is, the remarkable bit is the realisation that even the Labour supporting Mirror now calls the Prime Minister ‘Boris’ and leads with an image of him looking jovial.
The Daily Express calls Merkel’s move “a major concession; The Sun says it is an “opportunity”. The i says Merkel has given “orders”. The Daily Telegraph says the PM has scored “a victory”. The Mail says Johnson could be “on the brink of a triumphant breakthrough”. The Guardian says Merkel has put “the responsibility for the UK crashing out of the EU firmly at the prime minister’s door”. The Financial Times hears the leader of German parliament’s foreign affairs committee says Johnson is using Merkel to show the British he had tried everything, so he could then blame EU when it all goes wrong.
Such is the spin.
Jeffrey Epstein is the BBC’s “shamed financier Jeffrey Epstein”. But he wasn’t was he? We’ve no clue if Epstein felt shame for molesting underage girls. And we know that after his 2008 conviction for procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18 he was still pals with Prince Andrew. If shame results from being shunned by society, Epstein was shameless. It was only after the tabloids published a photo of Andrew walking in the park with Epstein that the royal hole hunter apparently cut ties with the convicted paedophile. And let’s note that Buckingham Palace deny Andrew’s involvement in any wrongdoing.
We don’t know what drove Epstein to apparently take his own life in a New York jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. If he left a note explaining all, we’ve not seen it. If he confided in anyone, their lips are sealed.
Did Einstein feel his wrongdoing, something akin to what E.F. Schumacher wrote in 1973 on “The power of ‘the Eye of the Heart’, which produces insight, is vastly superior to the power of thought, which produces opinions”? Was Epstein suddenly acutely aware of his crimes, seeing what once was inaccessible to his limited view? Did Epstein experience embarrassment and found the resulting fall into self knowledge unbearable? Credo ut intelligam.
No Epstein. No way of knowing. Instead a look at some the women on his planet because women sell news.
The Times and Telegraph both lead with big photos of Katherine Keating. It’s “believed” she was seen on video leaving Epstein’s home in NYC, waving goodbye to Prince Andrew as she left.
The footage, shot on December 6, 2010, shows a relaxed Prince Andrew peering out from behind the door of Epstein’s New York home, a lavish residence in which the financier allegedly carried out the systematic grooming, abuse and rape of young girls. The Duke of York was bidding a friendly farewell to a brunette woman who bears a striking resemblance to Ms Keating, now 37, the middle daughter of Paul Keating, the Labor leader who served as Australia’s prime minister from 1991 until 1996.
But, well, so what? Keating has done nothing wrong. She hung out with very rich people in New York. What light does it shed on Epstein?
While the full allegations against him had not emerged in December 2010, he had pleaded guilty, in 2008, to soliciting prostitution from girls as young as 14. It seemed to make little difference to his standing in international high society.
Why not? A conspiracy? That a very rich man knew very rich, very connected, very materialistic people is nothing shocking. His little black book was a social network. It’s not the only one. Do we trust the people in these elite groups? What are their values? Chances are they’re as hypocritical as the rest of us.
In a world obsessed with imaginary VIP paedophiles, Jeffrey Epstein was the real deal. Don’t focus on the holes – all the things we don’t know. The good news is that the law caught up with him.
The better news for Prince Andrew is that the New of The World’s death came long before Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide by committee in a New York jail. The convicted paedophile who hung out with Randy Andy in the palace and the park was the topic of the March 2011 NoTW front page “Prince Andy and the Paedo”. The paper loved a tale of sex and scandal, and would have pursued the story of Andrew and the now dead depraved pervert with vigour. The phone-hacking was deplorable. But there’s a big hole where the hugely popular paper used to be.
Back then, the knowing celebrated the NoTW’s demise. Hugh Grant told BBC Question Time: “I’m not for regulating the proper press, the broadsheet press. But we need regulation of the tabloid press.” Today Jeremy Corbyn agrees with that biased view: tabloid bad, broadsheet good. Or to put it in clearer terms: people who read the tabloids are the wrong sort and must be schooled by their knowing betters. We can know only what our betters think we should know.
Hacking is wrong but, you know, would you quite like to hear a phone call between Andrew and Epstein? Perhaps the hack would be more to your tastes if it were via Wikileaks and published in the Guardian?
It’s left to the Mail on Sunday to take up the cudgel. It published new photographs of Andrew’s visit to Epstein’s New York mansion in December 2010 – two years after the host pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor. Good on the Mail, then. Or not. Because according to Corbyn: “Just because it’s on the front page of The Sun or the Mail doesn’t automatically make it news.” Wrong. It does. Whether or not you choose to read it is another story. We’ll decide what’s worth knowing. You can stick your “ethical journalism” up your organic punter.
In a world where the press are compliant and controlled, newspapers will be run by the State and full of press releases, advertorials and PR, like this missive from Buckingham Palace, which says:
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent.”
Nothing to see here. Move on. Andrew is His Royal Highness – he never has been a human being like you slobs beset by the foibles of lust, pride and desire. Even the Sun is kowtowed, calling Andrew “foolish”. Better a fool than a paedophile’s princely pal. “What was he doing at the home of a convicted paedophile? What on earth was he thinking?” asks the Times. His thoughts are his own affair. His doings are what we want to know about.
Having damned Arsenal as “skint”, the Sun now bills them as “DESPERATE” in reaction to the Gunners’ £65m bid of Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano. You may recall when Arsenal had a “derisory” £40m to spend this summer. That was before they lashed out around £100m on Saliba, Pepe and Martinelli. And now there’s very big money move for France’s Upamecano. And they might well get him.
The German side want £90m for their man. But they’re willing to take £60m plus Arsenal tyro Emile Smith Rowe, either on a permanent deal or long loan. The 19-year-old is valued at £20m. He spent part of last season at the Bundesliga side, although injury hampered his performance.
Arsenal should have the money if they can get shot of the irksome Shkodran Mustafi before the European transfer window shuts. Monaco are keen and willing to meet the Gunners’ £27m asking price. The French club can recruit Mustafi up to the September 2 deadline. Arsenal hope that having got shot of Laurent Koscielny to a retirement village in France and with Carl Jenkinson eyeing a move to Notts Forest, that dire defence will finally get the revamp in needs.
Failing that – and the smart money is on Arsenal getting their man – the Gunners will move for Juventus benchwarmer Daniele Rugani. The Italians have rejected Arsenal’s offer the loan deal, preferring to sell the not-all-that-quick Rugani. Arsenal remain keen on Celtic’s Kieran Tierney.
Tip-top reporting from the Daily Star, which manages to illustrate a story on Romelu Lukaku with a pen pic of his Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba. It also hails Arsenal’s new player the “France winger” Nicolas Pepe. He plays for the Ivory Coast, which isn’t in France. S
Oh, and Pogba hasn’t been left out of the United squad in Norway. He’s on the bench:
Such are the facts.
Should the Duke and Duchess of Sussex burst info flames, their neighbours must wait until asked to cross the road and wazz on them. Harry and Meghan’s neighbours have been issued with a set of rules, says the Sun. Do not speak to them without being spoken to first. Do not post flyers for pizzas, Labour or a new waxing salon through their letter box. Do not touch their dogs, walk the dogs nor ask to see Baby Archie. Only say ‘Good morning’, and only then if he actress and Duke Baseball Cap speak first.
Harry: ‘Out of my way, pleb!’
Neighbour: ‘Good morning’
Meghan: ‘It’s 3am and if I want a party I’ll have one’
Neighbour: ‘Good morning’
The rest of us love it all, of course. The royals are preposterous, ridiculous and laughable. That they need to provide the masses with made-up rules to maintain their distance and gravitas shows how close they are to admitting that the game is up.
Chuckle Brothers’ entertainer Paul Elliott has been “forced to deny that he passed away after his late brother Jimmy died this week”. So reports The Metro. How ugly. A grieving man is forced into something. “Following the death of his older brother Jimmy, 87, the 71-year-old was quick to stamp out rumours that he was the one who had died.”
‘The world is falling apart, Paul Chuckle has now died a year after his brother,’ one distressed fan wrote. To which he also responded: ‘Nobody told me,’ with a whiskey glass. While another wrote: ‘Click-bait. He wasn’t a “Chuckle brother”. Paul didn’t die.’ To which Paul added: ‘I don’t intend to mate,’ with the fist and thumbs up emoji.
Where on earth did readers and Chuckle Brothers’ fans get the idea that one of the comedy duo had died?
Clickbaiting a man’s death and then writing a second story about a grieving man “forced” to set the record straight. Charming…
They got him in the end. No, not the VIP paedophile killing children for kicks. They got the whistleblower, the man known in the tabloids somewhat appropriately as ”Nick’. Once the police had stopped treating his words as “credible and true”, they nicked him. And now Carl Beech, aka ‘Nick’, has been found guilty of 12 charges of perverting the course of justice and one charge of fraud.
The matter of why this criminal’s tosh was treated as fact should lead to heads rolling. The State created Operation Midland (cost: £2million) to investigate Beech’s claims. Innocent people had their names dragged through the gutter. Dead bodies were dug up and beaten with sticks. Why and how that came to be should worry us all.
No word yet on the Met’s detective superintendent Kenny McDonald who with all the circumspection of a dog sat by a steaming turd told us: “Nick has been spoken to by experienced officers from the child-abuse team and from the murder-investigation team and they and I believe that what Nick is saying is credible and true.” In what free country is what a copper believes worth anything without the evidence to support it?
In what free country worth a damn does a leading politician, in this instance deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson, hear Nick’s unsubstantiated claims and call the dead and entirely innocent former Conservative MP Leon Britton “as close to evil as any human being can get”? On a par with Hitler, Stalin or the Yorkshire Ripper. Britton was that bad. Watson apologised for his choice of language. But the craven opportunism of a police force driven by self-serving PR and desperate politicians who see dead kids (real and imagined) as an opportunity to showcase their own morals is sick.
At Newcastle Crown Court, Beech, a convicted paedophile and former school governor who’d secretly filmed one of his son’s pals using the toilet at his house – all so predictable, right? – was finally found out.
Now what should we do with his enablers?
Dutch defender Matthijs De Ligt has joined Juventus from Ajax for £67.5m. That must come as something of a shock to Manchester United and PSG fans because on July 6, the Sun bellowed: “Man Utd and PSG ‘agree transfer fees with Ajax for Matthijs De Ligt.” That news followed the Express’s July 5 scoop: “Barcelona transfer news LIVE: Matthijs de Ligt AGREEMENT in place.” Also on July 5, the Daily Star told its readers: “Man Utd and Ajax come to agreement over Matthijs de Ligt transfer.” The Daily Mirror agreed.
The Google News bots picked up the balls:
More clickbait every day…
On the Sun’s transfer news page for Arsenal, readers see the headline: “Monreal CONTRACT TERMINATED.”
Nacho Monteal has been sacked? What did he do. The hard-working Spaniard has never been a problem at Arsenal. To be sacked he must have done something incredible. Monreal contract runs until the end of the 2019/20 season. Arsenal would surely prefer to sell him. So you click on the headline and get told:
The Sun says there is “nothing in reports that Nacho Monreal has left Arsenal”. Reports like – yep – the Sun’s reports “Monreal Contract TERMINATED”. Which for those of hard of understanding appears in capital letters at the top of a story saying it’s nonsense.
Not that the Sun is alone in this tosh. Football.London and The Daily Record have the same owners.
As the Sun says: “confusion reigns.” And bullshit.com thrives.
The body of a Kenya flight ‘stowaway’ has been “found” in a garden in Clapham, south London. The man fell off a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi. The BBC says the “force of the body falling” dented paving slabs. To say nothing for the impact of the body landing on the patio.
“If it had been two seconds later,” says an eyewitness, “he would have landed on the common where there were hundreds of people – my kids were in the garden 15 minutes before [he fell]. I spoke to Heathrow. They said this happens once every five years.” In 2024, it might be best to remain indoors.
Thoughts, of course, are with the dead man, someone desperate enough to clamber inside the landing gear of a large commercial jet and take his chances. Although maybe he was already dead and someone else stowed him? Whatever the background, the tabloids keep things in perspective.
The Mail warns owners of £2m homes that immigrants might be targeting their properties:
The Sun warns sunbathers that there’s something worse than perverts with camera drones:
The man has yet to be identified.
Freddie Starr (9 January 1943; died 9 May 2019) never ate a hamster, at least not Supersonic. In 1986 the Sun told how the entertainer had put the rodent between two slices of bread and bit into it. It was just his loveable, madcap way of punishing the critter’s female owner for her refusal to make him a sandwich.
“Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster,” said the Sun. The story was false, cooked up by Starr with his agent, convicted paedophile Max Clifford. Starr noted in his autobiography: “I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal.” It’s the kind of line Starr would have ended with “But I bet he had a cockatoo”.
Starr’s dead now. But the story lives on, the Sun modestly hailing the original as the “greatest headline in the world”. Back then the story promoted Starr’s career. Told now the casual misogyny and cruelty would have ended it.
The job market is looking bleak for topless stunnas. The Daily Star says it will no longer feature pictures of topless women on Page 3, following the Sun’s move to end its Page 3 feature 2015. Readers looking for tit-bits of news will be lost to the web.
“The Daily Star is always looking to try new things and improve,” says the paper’s editor, Jonathan Clark. “In that spirit, we’ve listened to reader feedback and are currently trialling a covered-up version of page 3.”
Do Daily Star readers do feedback in anything other than sales?
How different things were when the Sun sacked Dannii from Basildon. “The Daily Star is proud to continue the great British page 3 tradition,” announced the paper. “It brightens the day for our readers during tough times and has launched many successful careers. We will continue to listen to what our readers want and put a smile on their faces with our lovely, bright, talented and independent young ladies. Page 3 is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pud, fish and chips and seaside postcards. The Daily Star is about fun and cheering people up. And that will definitely continue!”
What the Star is about now is unsaid. Maybe it’ll be about a different kind of hard news?
It is illegal to take photos up a person’s skirt or other items of clothing without their consent. Upskirting is a crime if “the offender has a motive of either gaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim”. What about if you’re an underwear researcher for M&S? What about if it’s newsworthy?
The Daily Star once alerted us to the “clea-vadge”, a happening so rich it was hailed as “The FILTHIEST celeb trend yet”. Female celebs had taken to wearing very small knickers and skirts with long slits. Men wielding very long lenses with endoscopy attachments were taking photos of the ‘trend zone’. You’ve seen 90% of the star’s naked flesh but the contest to reveal the remaining portions is keenly fought in panting PR agencies and on the kerb.
Following the arrival of the new anti-upskirting law the questions for editors are: when are knickers being “flashed” and when are you just gawping at a woman’s crotch?
In 2014, the Express brought us: “Top 10 knicker flashes including Kate Middleton, Susanna Reid and Emma Watson.” Flashing suggests an act of free will. But in its article the Express said these leading flashers were “blundering”. BBC TV presenter Alex Jones was a flasher because she “had unwittingly showed off her brown polkadot pants as she crossed her legs in front of the camera, giving viewers a little more than they bargained for.”
The paper went on:
Kate Middleton proved that not even royalty can escape the embarrassment of an accidental flash. The mother-of-one ended up victim to a bluster of wind during a nine-day Canadian tour with Prince William, and showed off bottom when the breeze lifted up her yellow summer dress…
Emma Watson revealed more than she intended when she made a quick dash to the shops in 2011.
Is it now the case if a celebrity accidentally “flashes” her knickers that if no police action follows the gusset exposure was accidentally-on-purpose?
Just what is the message police and media are presenting us with? Now magazine once looks for meaning in Britney Spears’ gunties – and found some:
We now await the first paparazzo tried in court for upskirting who solicits the defence: “If I’d spotted early stage of cervical cancer, she’d be thanking me.”
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will join forces to solve Brexit, forming the kind of made-for-ITV drama partnership mouth breathers will love. In episode one of Chalk ‘n’ Cheese / Marx and Narks / Remain & Remain we see the intrepid duo meeting for “national unity” talks. The tabloids preview the show:
The Sun (front page): “PM TO CORBYN: HELLLLPP!!” May’s locked in a room with scented Liam Fox and Geoffrey Cox’s Voice of God. Can Corbyn get into Number 10? “After 7 hours of Cabinet lockdown, May’s gone soft over Brexit mess,” says the Sun. May’s “bright idea” is to think Corbyn can help. His face appears superimposed on a screw-in lightbulb, evoking the time the Sun did the same to then Labour leader Neil Kinnock, telling readers to turn the lights off if he got into power. Kinnock lost that time but soon trotted off to a massive salary in Brussels, from where he and his ilk will be soon controlling the UK post-Brexit. Votes, who needs ’em?
But in Brexit terms it’s earth hour, says the Metro. The lightbulbs are about to go out across the UK if a deal with the EU cannot be done. Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill says a no-deal Brexit will “make the country less safe, cause food prices to rise by ten per cent and lead to a recession”.
Daily Mail (front page): “May delays Brexit AGAIN and kills off No Deal — Boris leads Tory fury as Corbyn invited to ‘compromise’ talks”. The talks have been compromised! If you don’t know which side the Mail is on get a load of the billing: only Boris Johnson is on first-name terms with the paper’s readership. Johnson arrives on page 2 to accuse “Mrs May of betrayal”. But Michael Gove backs May. He backs lots of things and so long as you don’t back into him, all is good.
Johnson is all over page 6: “You’ve handed Brexit deal to Corbyn, bitter Boris tells May.” He’ll vote against any deal with the Labour leader. One page on and Henry Deedes gives his verdict, employing language familiar to anyone who spends afternoons chemically coshed in front of reruns of the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip and howls with laughter at Readers’ Digest ‘Life’s Like That’ anecdotes.
Daily Mirror (front page): “HELP ME JEREMY,” says a “despairing Theresa May”. Jeremy will rescue things. “Jezza says he’ll talk”. But wait a moment. Might it be a trap?
Page 5: Jason Beattie, who writes beneath the marvellous title “head of politics”, says Corbyn is “well aware he’s being lined up for a fall”. “To keep his party together his minimum request should be for a customs union and a second referendum,” he advises. Will May agree to Remain? Will her successor rip-up any agreement? Will Brexit detectives Fudgeit and Snubs get to the bottom of things?
Daily Express (front page): “It’s Time For National Unity…Over To You Mr Corbyn.” Mr.. Not just ‘Corbyn’. By page four the language is back to basics. The Express phone poll asks: “Should Corbyn be entrusted with final Brexit deal?” That’s the Brexit-supporting Express asking its readers to spend 50p on a referendum that may carry less weight than, well, the referendum in which 17.4 millions of voted to leave.
Vote now and vote often.
And to think they said it wouldn’t last. Days after “rugby ace” Danny Cirpriani was linked with Stanislavsky-honed Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, the Sun, the paper that broke the news on its front page, says he’s “bedded” a mum of two.
Meet Amy D’Ambrogio, whose kids will be the toast of their school playground as she tells the paper of her alleged shagging. Amy’s fluent in the kind of language that requires no work from the Sun’s busy sub–editor’s, revealing: “After sex he was saying, ‘I feel really bad now. I feel guilty’ and told me he had cheated on someone.” Who? No matter because we get to the maul, tackle and ruck, which according to the scummy mummy (come on, Sun subs) went like this:
Another alleged shag is explained: “He stopped outside my bedroom, took all his clothes off and folded them in a neat pile.”
No word from ‘Copping some’ Flack, but after Danny and she were “caught” together at Babington House, a members’ club in Somerset, where spotting a frotting celebrity and their PR is akin to spotting the sky, we look forward to another series of Love Island very soon.
Love Island presenter Caroline Flack and “rugby’s bad boy” Danny Cipriani “shared a romantic getaway” in… Somerset. The Sun peers into the Celebrity Petri Dish and spots the “smitten rugby ace” and Flack sharing a “passionate goodbye kiss” after a “raunchy” weekend. An anonymous source adds: “They did start tongues wagging quite quickly.” Wagging Tongue might be the celebrity sex aide we need, one up on Love Island’s‘ Under Duvet Hand Assister and rugby’s maul, ruck, scrum, praise of the “nice tackle”, lots of “playing with one another” and a “hooker” pressed on with cries of “heave” – to think they broadcast that stuff before the watershed.
The Sun sees romance but perhaps this was an audition for the much-awaited Celebrity Love Island, in which Cirpriani, a man whose entire rugby playing career appears to be an audition for the moment he shares a televised hot tub with drip-dry incarnations of Kate Price, and Flack, a woman whose genitals are often accused of being a PR stunt – Flack, presenter of an X-Factor spin-off show enjoyed a “romance” with a teenage Harry Styles (who he?) enacted before anonymous sources and passing paps. Celebrity Love Island is the show we need.
That Celebrity Love Island line-up in full:
On the Daily Star’s page 2 a story about “British kids” being taken to Pakistan “and enrolled in chilling extremist summer schools”. These schools offer a “glorified version of jihad”. We hear from a “source” – unnamed. They opine: “It is highly likely his education in Pakistan, even for a short period, increases the risk of extremism for British-Pakistani children.”
Always a pity than you don’t know the name of the person giving you their opinion, especially one outlining a potential threat to national security which implicates British citizens.
As for the story, the Star says it’s in a “secret report by the Home Office”. An earlier and fuller version of this story appeared in the Mail two days previously. “Terrorism fears as 3,000 UK children a year go to ‘jihadi’ schools in Pakistan, secret government report reveals,” says the Mail. The inverted commas should alert circumspect readers to the fact that these schools are not jihadi schools.
Like the Star, the Mail says the news is “chilling” and “secret”. That voice is again heard telling us: “It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children,’ the source told The Mail on Sunday.” The teaching takes place in “Pakistan’s estimated 20,000 madrasas”.
Are these madrases all a worry for the British government? Er, no. The Mail says the report “identifies three madrasas of concern – the Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrasa in the remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region bordering Afghanistan; the Jamia Binoria in Karachi and Jamiatul Uloom Ul Islamia in Azad Kashmir. Each has denied involvement in extremism.”
How many British children have even been to one of those three schools? Dunno. Having cast a pall of suspicion over all British-Pakistanis who choose to give their children more education, the Star and Mail don’t say.
But we are told: “Two of the 7/7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, enrolled on madrasa courses in Pakistan a year before they launched their deadly attack in 2005, which killed 52.” Khan was 30 when he committed an act of mass murder. Tanweer was 22. Neither was a child sent to a ‘jihadi’ school by the parents. Both were grown men when they went to school in Pakistan. The Sunday Times said Khan was assessed by MI5 in 2004, after his name appeared during an investigation into a plan to detonate a 600-lb truck bomb in London. Tanweer “looked up to Khan as a “father figure”. What role any madrasa played in their barbarity is moot.
So about those madrases… There’s no proof they’re any threat to this country at all.
You can’t come out from under there yet. And go easy on those provisions you’ve stored and planned to live on until March 29 when you could re-emerge into society. And save some of the Buffalo mozzarella – that stuff could be worth more than gold in post-Brexit Islington. Brexit is being delayed, well, it will be if Theresa May can get permission from the EU – you know, the body the country rejected in favour of being sovereign. There, there. Hush. Banging your head into the wall won’t help in the long run. And by the time you come out, the Polish repair team will have left for China. Here, to keep you going is a copy of the Daily Star.
There’s little talk of Brexit on planet Star. The paper focuses on breasts and factory worker Ade Goodchild, who has won £71m in the EuroMillions lottery. He was the only winner of the £71,057,439 prize on Friday. The BBC says he’ll travel the world and buy a home with a swimming pool.
You cares what colour your passport is when you’ve loadsa money? Good for Ade. And his fortune might be better news for our MPs, too, because Ade is looking for staff. If he needs a boat, Chris Grayling Ferries can sort him out; John ‘ORDER!’ Bercow is handy in restaurants; and Jeremy Corbyn is a shoo-in as a travel agent, fixing trips to Iran, Russia and Venezuela.
And what millionaire doesn’t need a life-size weather house? Call me, Mrs May, I have ideas…
In a tribute to Jadon Sancho, the England and Borussia Dortmund winger, the Sun’s Martin Blackburn says Raheem Sterling might be “something of a role model” to the tyro. Writing in the Times, Henry Winter calls Sterling “a role model in a divided land crying out for them”. Watford’s Troy Deeney has no truck with footballers being pitched as role models to strangers, arguing that he’s a role model only to his kids. But this isn’t about Sterling’s talents, which are considerable, but how the press portrays him. And the Sun has changed tact.
Winter has called out the media’s bias towards Sterling, an intelligent, driven young black athlete on the receiving end of some monocular reporting. And the Sun has been accused of treating Sterling unfairly.
Today the BBC reports the words of Spurs and England full-back Danny Rose, who says players were “over the moon” to see Raheem Sterling criticise the media’s portrayal of black players and says the winger was “spot on”. Sterling opined that newspapers helped “fuel racism” by the way they portray young black footballers.
“Raheem was only saying what we all say in the dressing room,” said Rose, 28.”It’s sad really but he’s 100% spot on with what he said… The stick he used to get from the media was bang out of order. When he put the [Instagram] post up about the media we were all over the moon with that because we all agree. Fair play to Raheem… One of the few positive things about social media now is you have a voice and you can influence people. Now it’s not just boys in the dressing room talking about the media targeting Raheem, the general public have now seen it. We hope it changes but it doesn’t affect Raheem in any way, which we are all grateful for.”
I’ve no interest in a footballer being a role model. I just want them to be brilliant and give their all when playing for my team and rubbish in a rival club’s shirt. Does what Wayne Rooney or Raheem Sterling do in their downtime fill a gap in your parenting skills? Simon Barnes summed it up well in The Times: “Football itself is neither disgusting nor admirable. It’s just a game, it doesn’t have any pretensions to be a moral force, for good or evil. That’s not its job.” Stop holding footballers up as an example to the slack-jawed masses, and stop making examples of them.
Next week: why aren’t MPs role models?
Now that Madeleine McCann is back in the news thanks to a Netflix docu-drama, the tabloids can revisit the same old with some degree of surety that readers remain interested in the missing child.
Daily Star (page 19): “Maddie was kidnapped ‘to order’.
Who sent the order? The paper tells us it was a “peado gang”, precisely a “Belgian paedophile ring”. Seems hard to fathom that depraved perverts would go to so much trouble as to import a white child from a foreign country? But if it’s on the Netflix drama The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is must have weight. And we read the theory that “someone linked to the mob” spotted Madeleine McCann on holiday in Portugal, took her photo and “secretly” sent it to Belgium. The “purchaser” is “said to have approved her”.
A source from detective agency Metodo 3, once hired to track down the child all those moons ago, opines: “To take her without leaving a trace? It was well-organised group.” Because as everyone knows, the more people involved in a crime, the less likely it is that something will go wrong and someone will claim the huge reward.
The Star says the Belgian tip-off was noted by a Scotland Yard officer 10 months after the child vanished. The report runs: “Intelligence suggests that a paedophile ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine was taken.” It’s a sickening theory. But at least it’s only speculation. We see no facts to support it.