There are still four weeks to go in the General Election campaign, but even at this relatively early stage I’m surprised at how really nasty some of the comments have been in the right wing media.
Even before the election had been called, the Daily Telegraph’s Allison Pearson wrote a column demanding the beheading of Nicola Sturgeon. Then last week Kelvin Mackenzie said in a New York Times interview that his dream headline would be “Jeremy Corbyn knifed to death by an asylum seeker”. To call for the murder of any politician less than a year after the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox by a far right extremist is astonishingly irresponsible.
Disappointingly, although not surprisingly, the Telegraph continues to employ Pearson as a columnist. Mackenzie however has now been sacked from his role at The Sun. Officially this is because of the outrage caused an article in which he compared an Everton player to a gorilla. A more likely explanation is that Rupert Murdoch wants to present a squeaky clean image to the media regulators as they consider his bid for a majority stake in Sky TV.
Interestingly these highly personal vitriolic attacks on political opponents seem to be unique to the right wing media. I don’t remember seeing anything in The Guardian or the Daily Mirror attacking leading Conservatives in the way that Corbyn and Sturgeon are being demonised. Some people may find that a little surprising given that in Boris Johnson the liberal press have a pretty easy target. I sometimes think that left wing writers like Owen Jones and Yasmin Alibhai Brown are a bit too full of their own self importance to indulge in this sort of thing.
Given that the Conservatives seem destined to win by a landslide on 8 June, it does make me wonder just how really nasty the Tory press might be if the election was more closely contested.
When I was at primary school, many moons ago, I was repeatedly taught that if I couldn’t say anything nice about a person then I shouldn’t say anything at all. Good advice; after all, silence can often speak volumes.