On Wednesday 6 December, The Sun published a column by Boris Johnson attacking a “leftie” campaign group. And in it, the Foreign Secretary plumbed new depths of hypocrisy – just to attack the left.
Johnson was taking aim at Stop Funding Hate, the campaign to get advertisers to end relationships with right-wing papers like The Daily Mail, The Express, and The Sun.
He says this campaign is a:
Vicious attack… [by] left-wing activists… to undermine the financial base of some newspapers whose views they dislike.
Oddly, his assertion that the campaign is to “undermine [tabloids’] financial base” is probably the only sensible thing in the article. As Richard Wilson, co-founder of Stop Funding Hate, said in The Huffington Post:
We have to find a way to make hate and fear less profitable.
But “vicious”? Stop Funding Hate makes it clear they only support ‘civility’ and ‘love’:
A quick reminder to please keep it civil towards brands, the media outlets we're challenging, & those who disagree with @StopFundingHate. Let's disagree agreeably! #StartSpreadingLove pic.twitter.com/Zz319xAuoB
— Stop Funding Hate (@StopFundingHate) December 5, 2017
But it’s his claims that Stop Funding Hate’s campaign is ‘virulent’ and that it could push people into “the arms of extremists” which are most hypocritical and preposterous. Because the right-wing tabloids make a very good job of doing that themselves.
The right-wing media has been widely condemned for promoting hatred and intolerance. For example, one UN committee said Conservative-led governments and the media “have some responsibility” for society seeing disabled people as “parasites, living on social benefits”.
Another UN report said the UK press incites “hatred” against minorities. Really?
Also, a European Commission group said The Sun and The Daily Mail used “offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology” and “unscrupulous… reporting” against minorities. And the former UN Human Rights Chief compared a Katie Hopkins Sun column to the “Nazi media” of the 1930s. It’s all of this that Stop Funding Hate objects to. Not, as Johnson puts it, the papers’ “editorial line”.
Johnson himself, meanwhile, was sacked from The Times in 1988 for “fabricating a quote”; or ‘lying’.
Stop talking rubbish, Johnson
Ultimately, Johnson says Stop Funding Hate is ‘ironic’ because:
They are attacking the freedom which is the foundation of our democracy.
It’s not, though. Stop Funding Hate is promoting people’s freedom to use (ironically) free-market competition and free speech against right-wing tabloids. And Johnson’s response to it shows the Conservatives are rattled – and have run out of legitimate ways to challenge the left.
– Support Stop Funding Hate.