Daily Mail redirects Bank of Toyland rage

As usual, the Daily Mail has been busy rousing Little England’s rage. Not against short-sellers or hedge-fund managers or inept financial regulators, of course. Against “scroungers”.

Blimey, not just any old scroungers – but immigrant scroungers, black single mother scroungers, and families-with-ten-kids scroungers. If the Mail has a News Topic Bingo card, this may constitute a full house.

Mail readers are finding that their imaginary property fortunes have all but disappeared and that they might lose their jobs and pensions. And they need someone to blame. So step forward, handy scrounger targets.

The jobless couple who rake in £32k a year in benefits and still aren’t happy.

The article is deeply unpleasant sneering attack. (No surprises there) For example:

And it seems that she does not have the time for housework.
The walls of her home are dirty and peeling and the floor is covered in videos and magazines.

Would the Daily Mail prefer to see these 10 kids homeless and starving, then, to make their parents pay for their perceived improvidence? Would spotless paintwork have allayed some of their spite or annoyed the Mail even more?

Single mother lives in Britain’s most expensive council house.

This story defies belief. This woman has been temporarily housed in an expensive empty council property while her own house is being repaired. What possible benefit could the house’s market value be to this woman? Would the Daily Mail be happy to see her and her child rehoused in a modest cardboard box, regarding that as more appropriate to her single-parent status?

How about the Afghani family living in a £1.2 million house? With a big screen plasma TV, in case the Mail readers aren’t already frothing at the mouth. Again, this isn’t their home, nor – despite the misleading heading – is it a council house. Their private landlord charges huge amounts of rent (£12,458 per month) and Housing Benefit is currently paying this. Apart from that, the only evidence that this woman with 7 kids is any better off than anyone else on benefits is the presence of games consoles and a plasma tv. All of these have been costed at top brand-new shop prices by the Mail, which has unaccountably never heard of second-hand goods or market stalls.

This family are castigated for not living in a shabby home. The first family was castigated for living in one. The second family was insulted for having the temerity to get moved into an empty council property.

The Mail doesn’t actually suggest that any of these people has done anything wrong, what with libel laws being as they are… Instead, the Mail just holds them up to be hated. To make its readers – who are worrying about the effect of economic meltdown on their own income – feel doubly hard done to. To redirect the readers’ rage and fear towards handy individual hate-targets and against the “system” that appears to penalise them but reward the undeserving.

As an example of the Mail’s hypocrisy, some of the children’s faces are pixellated out. It’s not as if their locations and the full names and images of their parents wouldn’t identify them to anyone who knows them…. People who don’t know them aren’t going to be insulting them in the street or beating them up in the playground, in any case.

One distasteful aspect of the story of family A is that the Mail reports that the woman is being insulted in the street as a scrounger. (I can’t actually say that the newspaper takes any pleasure in this fact or that they are subtly suggesting this action to their readers. I can of course hint at it, in a Daily Mail style way.)