The Man Who Could Change British Politics


LONDON — The man is so connected that he can boast of ringing up Hugh Grant (a chum from Oxford), or lunching with London villains known for extracting obedience with pliers. A 57-year-old journalist, Geordie Greig is a slight fellow, his reddish coloring hinting at Scottish ancestry, eyebrows arching quizzically, thin lips with a propensity to hang apart, exposing bulldog lower teeth. He is also a man who might change Britain.

This is a strange time in the United Kingdom, as Brexit hurtles closer without anyone yet knowing what leaving the European Union will mean. It’s also a curious time for the press, as circulation plummets, those frail pages leafed by increasingly frail and few hands. Yet one print publication, the Daily Mail, still commands vast power, its thunderous front-page headlines all but causing the paintings to tremble at 10 Downing Street. And this is where Greig comes in, for he is about to take control at the inky institution, perhaps editing this country’s political chaos in the process.

According to the Mail worldview of recent years, dignified British ways are under attack, mauled by vain liberal cosmopolitans, crafty foreigners, and fashionable bunkum. Here’s a selection of items from a recent edition: banks are ripping off bereaved families; knife-wielding muggers are on the rampage; global elites held a secret meeting; Romanians are stealing fish from honest local anglers; an op-ed headlined “TYRANNY OF THE MINORITIES.” As the ads hint, readership skews older, with pages hawking cruises, retirement apartments, gardening equipment, stair lifts, treatment for varicose veins, hearing tests.

A parody Mail headline generator concocts pearls such as “Could Gays Burgle Britain’s Swans?” or “Will Political Correctness Give Middle Britain Cancer?” But fewer people snicker at the Mail than attend to it. The midmarket tabloid has set the political agenda in Britain, its influence akin to that which Fox News exerts on Washington politicos. The Mail’s power comes partly from the millions who read it each week, most crucially those desirable older voters in the provinces. Another part of its power springs from cold fear: for a public figure to be “monstered”—meaning picked on and picked apart—by the Mail means humiliation, perhaps the end of a career. When the newspaper has pushed a cause, politicians have rushed to address it, causing the matter to ricochet through the media, spreading Mail-originated issues across the TV, radio, and other print publications. …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Global

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