Yes, you read that correctly, it’s a question that may well enter the mainstream political debate in the near future. Which again, may come as a shock, but the decision by Daily Mail and General Trust plc to replace Paul Dacre, with Geordie Greig, is something that rightly should send shock-waves within the British media and British politics, for it may change the common discourse for years to come.
The consequence of this appointment lies in the fact that many journalists and academics acknowledge that the Daily Mail is Britain’ most influential newspaper, the print edition reach is over 3 million people and it boasts a combined PC and Mobile reach of over 16 million people. Online, they largely impression people over the age of 35, and the print version is read overwhelmingly by C2, D, E voters, both are key demographics when considering who voted Brexit. With such a readership comes great power to influence public policy, and although it is difficult to quantify just how influential the Daily Mail was in 2016 and how many people voted to leave the European Union based on the articles they had read, Paul Dacre would find comfort in any evidence linking his editorship and the referendum result. The atmosphere of hostility that he aggressively pursued as editor, be that towards migrants, the EU and anyone that disagreed with the Daily Mail line is something that has undoubtedly caused a lasting impression on this country.
The appointment of Geordie Greig then, is all the more startling, evidenced by this graphic published online. From September 3rd 2015 til September 3rd 2016, the Daily Mail led with a story on migrants 60 times, that’s a front-page story on migrants every 5.2 days, (because it’s only published 6 days a week.)
Propaganda in the modern context, whether that be from news organisations, newspapers or any other media outlet is as follows. Media outlets provide their readership, viewers or listeners with a variety of media content, be that images, videos or articles – most lacking nuance and of dubious intellectual merit – that serve the intended purpose of promoting an ideology while fuelling disdain for the ‘opposition.’ The agenda that Paul Dacre pursued during his rule seemingly ticks all of the boxes, in defining propaganda, and certainly the headline ‘Enemies of The People’ springs to mind.
Geordie Greig brings a problem to Theresa May, as the anti-EU peppering of the Daily Mail readership slows and starts to shift to remain, it is now unlikely that she will have the backing of the Daily Mail for a Hard Brexit. Especially as Mr Greig was this week quoted by the Guardian as saying, ‘We want the least damaging Brexit.’ Note that although the Daily Mail’s proprietor Lord Rothermere has long made clear he doesn’t intervene on editorial-lines, he is Anti-Brexit, it could be a coincidence that such an appointment has been accelerated. If it isn’t though, Mrs May knows that her political career rests on how her deal with the EU is perceived in domestic politics, which is set to be mapped out in October/November time. If the extremist tone used in the Daily Mail, that has long been used to promote Boris Johnson’s and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s vision of how Brexit should look, is no longer endorsed in the Daily Mail, she may find herself an unlikely-ally. And again, if, today’s paper is anything to go by, the change is now, as Andrew Pierce’ piece details Chuka Umunna’s interview with the New European, describing the MP as ‘dapper’, and includes the quote from Mr Umuna that ‘we’ve conceded too much ground to the far right.’ The idea of Mail moving its stance was picked up by the Financial Times, showing that it is not just me who has noticed the shift.
Beyond Brexit though, this appointment may begin to heal a divided nation, one that was seemingly fixated on migrants, how they destructed British culture and an addiction to everything negative, may have run its legs. Don’t hold your breath though, come November we may be looking at a WTO trade deal, the damage inflicted by Paul Dacre’s tenure has already been done, 26 years of spreading racial hatred has had its impact. Mr Greig has made clear that a drastic change in the editorial line will not be hurried in fear of alienating its readers, I’m not predicting that the Daily Mail is going to start supporting socialist policies delivered by Jeremy Corbyn himself. Simply, that by next year a more nuanced and less radical view of the news will be presented to the British public. Geordie Greig may have been the last way we thought we’d avoid a Hard Brexit, he may now be the only way.