Astute followers of Britain, its society and class system will know the overwhelming power of its right-wing newspapers. Alright, their circulation is smaller than in Mrs Thatcher’s heyday- but with 4 139 962 readers they still set the agenda and internet activities of a massive majority of Britons. By contrast papers which could be reasonably described as moderate or left-of-centre in outlook come in a pitiful 1 356 260.(source;Wikipedia) It’s not facts that count; it is the way they are treated that matters, and this ascendancy tells much about where Britain is now, culturally, economically and politically. (Foreign readers take note-we at LSS don’t care if this situation is right or wrong, we simply observe evident truths).
One area where this plays out is Climate Change. Traditionally, centre and left- leaning people are more receptive to ideas on climate change: the Right has been the haven for deniers. Much of the argument has swirled around the figure of Rupert Murdoch, who, love him or loathe him, is the nearest the Right has to a global leader. The FT article summarises the latest below*
Yet Murdoch and his followers would claim that they are moving. That’s why the piece by Pawas Bisht for The Conversation so intrigues us. Now even a publication as impeccably right as the The Daily Express and, more importantly, the Sun, are beginning to stir their followers into action on climate change. There is an intriguing subtext; Brexit means a lot more buying British. For years environmental campaigners have been urging people to buy local and shorten supply chains. Could Internationalism and Nationalism be about to meet?
Nationalism in Britain is strongly expressed in support for the Monarchy, an institution butressed with ferocious energy by the right wing tabloids. Which is why the Mail piece by James Gant is so odd. “Fury as as anti monarchy group release video...etc” Ostensibly it,s a Mail hit job, unleashing righteous wrath on a tiny group of Republicans who have released a rather lumbering video in support of their cause while the Queen’s Husband is attending hospital, for some minor ailment we hope. In which case-why run it at all? As one astute commentator observes-why give these people free publicity?
Does the Mail too scent a change in the wind? Look at the other comments underneath. We expected all to be rabidly, foamingly pro-monarchy. Yet at least half displayed a range from grudging support via sardonic indifference to outright hostility. The Queen was largely exempted (she has been an exemplary monarch) but there is clearly real doubt about her successors. One astute Mail watcher of long standing told us “they are very pro Elizabeth II- but have real doubts about Charlie.”
As go the right-wing papers, so goes Britain. As even Conservative politicians like Michael Heseltine and David Cameron found out when they got on the wrong side of them. We at LSS believe that something needs to be done about climate change. But we also think that, in an age without revealed religion, the monarchy may provide a source of comfort and focus, especially to those whose life journey has left them less able to access reflection and with a less broadly grounded basis in facts. Either way, progressives may be getting what they have wished for. Always a good time to be cautious.
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