“Anger erupted last night…” is how the Daily Express beings its splash today. The crusty tabloid probably keeps those four words in a drawer somewhere, knowing they’ll pop up, erupting anger being an occupational hazard alongside ulcers and a scowl frozen at the state of the world.
Funny thing is, that’s just what happened when I saw the story, although it was more by way of grumbling displeasure, as angry eruptions mostly arise in newspaper clichés rather than in life. “Grumbling displeasure” are not words I keep a drawer as a search reveals they’ve never been used in this blog before now.
The angry boil the Express wishes to lance is its ‘discovery’ that 2,500 council bosses across Britain are said to earn more than £100,000. There is no reason for council bosses to be paid such a fortune, so it is easy to see why the Express should choose this target. But then I spotted that its story was based on research by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a group dragged onto this ledge as recently as March 22.
For all its grassroots, man-and-woman-of-the-people posturing, this alliance is part of a worldwide right-wing network in support of free-market capitalism.
And that’s fine if you’re upfront about it, but pretending to be a people’s movement when, as the Guardian reported last November, the alliance receives funds from US-based donors suggests a lack of honesty.
Added to that, Who Funds You? – a UK campaign for transparency in think-tanks – gives its lowest rating for transparency to the alliance.
It’s always a good idea to look around you when the alliance is kicking up trouble. With that in mind here, dear Daily Express, are suggestions of other things to get your anger blowing.
How about Brexit already costing the UK economy £40bn a year? This is according to Bank of England rate-seller Gertjan Vlieghe, who mentioned it back in February, but that one escaped the editor’s attention. That’s the Brexit you have been banging on about for untold months, the Brexit that will bring us freedom, sovereignty and a pocketful of free money. Perhaps today’s splash is by way of a diversion from the shitstorm reality of the Brexit you crave.
And that’s the thing with such stories: they us deflect from what is going on. So, Daily Express, you could just as easily have let your anger erupt over councils that can no longer cope or do their job of supporting people because the government – as generally supported by you – has slashed grants to the hard white stuff, year after bone-cutting year.
You could have had one of your eruptions over cuts to education that are seeing schools struggle – a relentless squeeze on state education carried out by the Tories you love under the guise of “the highest spending ever”, or some such slippery lie muttered through the lips of an official deceiver.
You could have erupted over the rising use of foodbanks – a much more reliable measure of disgrace than paying council bosses too much.
Gary Jones, the editor of the Express, probably sees himself in campaigning mood this morning, bravely taking on all those over-paid council bosses. But he is doing dirty work for a shadowy pressure group by showcasing one relatively minor scandal.
He could just as easily have blown his kettle by exposing the astonishing pay rise granted to the boss of British Gas.
Ian Conn, who runs Centrica, owner of British Gas, has just received a 44% pay rise to £2.4m. This is put down to a “difficult year” – although not that difficult in the Conn household, at a guess.
Different shades of scandal exist wherever you look. The trick is to wonder why you are being asked to look in a certain direction.