Anatomy of a Daily Mail Comment

My anger boiled over late yesterday when I read comments on the Daily Mail’s report on the article it had published at 5pm on 22 February by Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke “If we don’t get a deal next week we MUST delay Brexit”. So I wrote a comment at approximately 10.45pm.

Here is what I said:

susan, Harrogate, United Kingdom, 17 hours ago

Brexit died weeks ago. Most MPs and most of the population know this. The referendum was over 2.5 years ago and much has happened since then. All the promises made by the leave campaign have turned out to be false. We are indeed being led by donkeys as this group’s billboards show. All Mrs May needs to do is to be like the strong women who have stood up for what they believe in this week, and tell the nation that the Brexit that was promised is undeliverable. To save face she must organise another vote to let all those people who realise they have been sold a dud make their views clear. She must stop being weakly held to ransom by all those old white males in the ERG who are only interested in making money out of the impending disaster.

Within an hour this comment had acquired 56 red down arrows, 15 green up arrows
and 6 replies. After 17 hours when I am writing this it has 87 down arrows and 37 up arrows.

Here are the replies, and their totals of up and down arrows up till now, with my thoughts on these:

somersetsue, taunton, 17 hours ago

That vote could still return a leave result, I have heard remainers change their mind having seen what bully boys the EU are!

17 up arrows, 5 down arrows

I am aware that the vote could still return leave result. I think remainers are more likely to accept this if the vote was shown to be fair.

There is an endless narrative in the pro-Brexit press about the EU being bullies, but nobody ever gives any examples. I think that the EU leaders have behaved very well. They did not start this and it has caused them a huge amount of extra work while they have observed the UK government going nowhere negotiating with itself for months.

kemali, Blackpool, United Kingdom, 17 hours ago

My goodness just one post you have revealed your lefty, undemocratic and man-hating views! Wow!

16 up arrows, 6 down arrows

I don’t know whether some of this is a compliment or not, but I was pleased to see that 7 of the 11 new Independent Group are women.

Professor Prune, LONDON, United Kingdom, 17 hours ago

Nonsense. The delegated instruction given by a mature and democratic eletorate trumps everything else.

13 up arrows, 4 down arrows

I don’t know how many times I have read this kind of comment before. I don’t know about “mature” but this person makes no attempt to argue against me except the endless repetition of a version of “we voted out”. Does he not know that things have changed since June 2016 and that what most of what Leave promised has turned out to be lies?

kemali, Blackpool, 17 hours ago

Rudd has been a problem since May brought her back… amazed that May hasn’t sacked her! Has she got something on her??

16 up arrows, 3 down arrows

Same person again. Just an insult.

guitarist16, London, United Kingdom, 17 hours ago

The only people who have been eating humble pie since the referendum are those that favoured remaining as their predictions and exaggerations have been proved to be futile. The referendum had the biggest turnout for a vote in recent years, every eligible person, who could be bothered voted freely, £millions was spent on campaigning beforehand, especially for remaining, registration was extended and as we are a democratic country, the majority decision is final, since then the same remain favouring MPs, have and still are, trying to stop what the country voted for, when Scotland had their referendum the majority decision was final, so why isn’t the UKs

19 up arrows, 3 down arrows

Where are the examples to support his (I use “his” although his gender is not clear) statement “those that favoured remaining as their predictions and exaggerations have been proved to be futile”. Surely it has become clear now that the opposite is true. Leavers appeared to think that the economy would fall apart the day after the referendum but it was always obvious that it would be a slow but accelerating decline as businesses move out of the UK. This is visibly happening now – we have seen another example this week with Honda whose “business reasons” must surely include Brexit.

This response also parrots the often repeated “majority decision is final” and “biggest turnout for a vote in recent years”. He does not address my point that much has happened since 2016. There are plenty of examples of people being asked to vote on the terms of a deal once this has been agreed by two parties, notably in the trade union movement where leaders are asked to negotiate new terms and then put them back to their members for acceptance or rejection. In the case of the 2016 referendum it seems to me that this is essential because, as I said in my original comment, “All the promises made by the leave campaign have turned out to be false.”

Emma Harrington, London, United Kingdom, 16 hours ago

So let’s advocate treason on a public forum that will be popular

8 up arrows and 4 down arrows

Perhaps the people who liked or disliked this comment had less trouble parsing it than I have. I am not at all clear what it is intended to mean. Is it one sentence or two? Is she advocating treason by the three authors of the article or accusing me of treason or suggesting she should be treasonous herself? In any case you could interpret this statement in more than one way. Is it the public forum that will be popular? Or is it advocating treason on a public forum, and saying that to do so would be popular?

In any case I hardly think that disagreement is “treason”. There are many instances of politicians who have publicly disagreed with their leaders.

I did make an attempt rather late to reply to guitarist16. Here is what I said

susan, Harrogate, United Kingdom, 15 hours ago

To guitarist16. We haven’t left the EU yet, but jobs are going (Honda this week) and financial organizations are taking their capital out of London. You haven’t mentioned the huge amounts of money spent by Leave in telling lies to people on Facebook about Turkey joining the EU etc. Nobody has yet said where Arron Banks got this money from. I’m so sorry for the people who fell for these lies. If this isn’t stopped the UK is heading for steady but accelerating decline in isolation from the rest of the world. It will be ripe for asset stripping by US businesses – as the Brexiteers have planned for years. See the 2012 book Britannia Unchained by Patel, Raab, Truss etc and the more recent books by Tim Shipman.

This got 7 up arrows and 8 down arrows, but by then most of these people had moved on to repeat the same comments again and again.

All this has depressed me, not because I have been criticised by these people but because they do seem to have some difficulty in actually addressing the points that I made. I have seen this over and over again in the comment forums of the tabloids.

I do wonder what people think they are achieving by repeating the same comments over and over again. Are they paid trolls? Is it brainwashing? I would seriously question whether any of the responses to my comment, and their up and down arrows, have any effect at all except to reinforce existing prejudices. Sadly, I believe the Leave campaign took advantage of this and kept pumping out misinformation on social media and encouraging more and more people to believe it and to “like” it. It appears to be continuing to do this with more misinformation about the WTO and the Lisbon Treaty.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people could look at what is actually being said, and have a reasoned argument supported by evidence?

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