How The Daily Mail's Migrant Bashing Stopped the Rise of the Far Right

According to the outgoing editor of... the 'Daily Mail'.

by Simon Childs
13 June 2018, 5:10pm

(Newscast Online Limited / Alamy Stock Photo)

Outgoing Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has written a diary in the Spectator in which he claims his firmly xenophobic editorial line has prevented the rise of ugly right-wing politics in the UK.

"One of the main reasons Britain voted Brexit was the refusal by our ruling class, led by the BBC, to allow a mature debate on mass immigration which has nothing to do with race and everything to do with numbers," he writes. "If the Mail promoted that debate and helped prevent the rise here of the kind of ugly right-wing political movements now festering across the EU, then I suffer my critics' obloquy with pride."

In other words, by publishing articles with headlines like "A 'hostile environment' towards immigrants? It’s not hostile enough", the Mail has given Britain's migrant-sceptics a voice and perversely stopped them manifesting their racism in any way other than, I guess, faithfully buying the Daily Mail.

It's an interesting theory, if a little counter-intuitive, and the amount of Mail articles Britain First's Facebook page used to share suggests a somewhat more complicated relationship. (Dacre has always distanced himself from the online offering, even though he was technically its editor.)

When right-wing politics in the UK got seriously ugly, Dacre’s Daily Mail knew what to do. After neo-Nazi Thomas Mair murdered Labour MP Jo Cox and gave his name to police as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain", the paper shoved it all the way back at page 30. It also speculated that Mair may have murdered the MP "because he feared losing his home of 40 years to an immigrant family", but added "his true motive will never be known", even though he said "Britain first", "this is for Britain", "Britain always comes first" and "keep Britain independent" as he attacked the MP.

But yes: truly, we will never know.

But what about those ugly far-right movements in Europe? Last year, when French far-right leader Marine Le Pen made it to the second round of the French Presidential elections, the Daily Mail’s front page hailed a "New French Revolution" in massive letters, saying that French voters would now have a say in "Frexit".

With Paul Dacre’s departure, there’s speculation that the Mail might take a less pro-Brexit editorial line, something Dare says would be "editorial and commercial suicide". But the real question is, if the Mail changes its diet of relentless migrant-bashing, could we see a concerning, and frankly, confusing rise of the anti-migrant right-wing movements as a result?

Come back, Paul – you're civilised xenophobia's only hope.


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Paul Dacre