It might as well be on their masthead
‘Labour’s grubby byelection tactics debase politics’, bellows the Daily Express above Leo McKinstry’s latest hackfest, blasting Labour election leaflets about maternity service closures in Copeland.
The leaflets had quoted a letter by local mother Paula Townsley and unnamed midwives warning mothers and babies could die if the cuts go ahead.
McKinstry unloaded on Labour in his column, accusing the party of using ‘a potential reorganisation of local maternity services’ to ‘whip up hysteria’:
“Corbyn and the Labour candidate Gillian Troughton should be ashamed to put their names to this kind of monstrous, morbid scaremongering.
What could be more sick than the use of innocent young lives to portray your opponents as evil agents of death?“
As a longtime columnist for the Express, McKinstry is something of an expert on bad taste. ‘Monstrous scaremongering’ might as well be on the paper’s masthead.
But how consistent is his (faux) outrage?
Here’s what Nigel Farage, then leader of UKIP, said upon the death of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alyan Kurdi in September 2015:
“I share with everybody the horror, the abomination that is that picture. But we have to let our short-term emotional reaction be overcome by a more considered view.
Which is, how do we stop more pictures of three-year-old kids being dragged dead out of the Mediterranean?
Do we do it by a European policy that says that anyone who comes can be accepted?
If this sounds like Farage was blaming EU migration policy for the death of children, that’s because he was. Farage went on:
“I’m sorry to say this, but it’s true. We will see more photographs of young kids being dragged dead out of the Mediterranean and more stories about lorries being filled with people who have suffocated.“
If McKinstry took exception to this ‘sick use of innocent young lives to portray your opponents as agents of death’ it didn’t stop him working at the Express, whose proprietor Richard Desmond gave Farage’s party a million pounds earlier that year and backs it to this day, with a piece by Paul Nuttall begging pro-Brexit Potters for their votes. Grubby indeed!
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.