Flattering to the UK population as it might be to see the UK described as “gentle civilised Britain”, I suspect the evidence doesn’t exactly stack up. (You could ask the populations of Majorca or Falaraki or Ibiza if they recognise this as description of a British tourist, for a start.)
This was in the headline of a piece by Melanie Phillips in the Mail Even by the reliably rabid standards of Melanie Phillips, this must represent a new departure. The heading is:
Violent Gaza protests reveal how gentle civilised Britain has changed into something very ugly indeed
I have to assume that Melanie Phillips doesn’t have a history GCSE, so she may never have heard of the many centuries of political violence that constitute British history. I also assume that she is 12 years old so never heard of the political violence of the 1980s. Kudos to the Mail for not being ageist and recruiting children as its columnists.
Hmm, wikipedia confuses me. It turns out she was born in 1951. She studied English at Oxford. (I guess it must have been difficult to get in without History O level…) I have to let her wikipedia give aflavour of her.
The BBC has said that Phillips “is regarded as one of the [U.K.] media’s leading right-wing voices”, although she defines herself as a progressive and a defender of liberal democracy. She began her career on the liberal left with the Guardian newspaper, and her gradual drift to the right of the political spectrum has been mirrored by her journalistic career: she now writes for the right-wing Daily Mail. She has used her Daily Mail columns and her blog to criticise, amongst other issues, progressive teaching methods, scientism, militant Islam, and what she sees as anti-semitism as a means of defending Israeli policy; to oppose equal partnership rights for homosexuals; and to support strict anti-drug policies. She has described President-elect Obama of the USA a “revolutionary Marxist.”
Also, in case you couldn’t have guessed-
Phillips argues that evolution is “merely a theory
Bear in mind that this is a woman who sees Obama as a “revolutionary Marxist” At least this gives some consistency to her characterisation of the UK as in thrall to fundamentalist Islam, backed by a fifth column of revolutionary lefties. A conspiracy into which she pulls the Liberal Democrat’s leader (ffs).
For silence is complicity, as once gentle, decent, civilised Britain changes before our horrified eyes into something very ugly indeed.
The Mail has talked up the demonstrations against Israel’s actions in Gaza to the point that it claimed that 100,000 people attended and that police were knocked unconscious.
Violent clashes occurred between police and around 20,000 protesters outside the Israeli Embassy in London (from the Daily Mail)
In notable numeric contrast, he BBC news site (NB the BBC is itself a minor Daily Mail hate target) says:
The Metropolitan Police says 20,000 people marched but the BBC estimates the figure could be as high as 50,000……
It is estimated there were several hundred police officers dealing with around 200 protesters outside the embassy…
BBC correspondent Robert Hall said given the number of people involved, the protest had been peaceful.
“But as darkness fell a small number of people, several hundred, have begun confronting police and missiles have been thrown,” he said.
“Although these are ugly and unwelcome scenes, they do not represent what has happened for most of the afternoon.”
Note that the BBC’s estimate of fighting protesters is one-hundredth of the Mail’s. Yes that’s one hundredth. How impressive is that for a margin of error. (Hmm, which estimate comes from an internationally respected organisation and which from a right-wing rag?)
The Daily Mail’s implication is that political violence is on a huge scale and is some alien (probably Islamic) import. It must not even have access to its own back catalogue – or else it mistrusts its own words as alarmist propaganda 🙂 – which would pull out hundreds of examples of demonstrations in which an irate minority kicked off.
But no chance. If there’s ever an opportunity to make middle England even more bigoted and scared, you can always rely on the Mail to take it.