Daily Mail left red-faced as attack on Gary Lineker backfires

Gary Lineker
Ed Sykes

In the run-up to the 2018 World Cup, the Daily Mail has decided to attack former football star Gary Lineker. But the paper’s offensive has backfired, bringing greater focus on the establishment allies it was apparently trying to protect.

Lineker: “We all know how corrupt our country is at times”

In an interview with the Radio Times, Lineker spoke out about the upcoming World Cup in Russia. The Match of the Day presenter and former England striker said:

What governments do is another matter, but the people of Russia have actually been very welcoming.

And he insisted:

Who are we to start getting judgemental on who should have the World Cup?

This, he argued, was because:

We all know how corrupt our country is at times.

He quickly realised, however, that right-wing tabloids would probably start “twisting” his words:

‘How dare he?!?’

The pro-Conservative Daily Mail immediately launched an attack on Lineker. Because, of course, ‘how dare he suggest there’s corruption in Tory Britain?’

An initial piece bellowed that Lineker had “leapt to the defence of Vladimir Putin”. And then came the cavalry, with Mail writer Dominic Sandbrook ranting that the presenter was “Russia’s latest ‘useful idiot’”.

Lineker responded:

And others were quick to join in:

By bringing greater focus on Lineker’s mention of UK corruption, meanwhile, the Mail actually drew further attention to the establishment allies it was apparently trying to protect.

Corruption in the UK

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 of Transparency International (TI) clearly suggests that Russia experiences more corruption than the UK. But that doesn’t mean we should let Britain’s elites off the hook.

As TI-UK’s executive director Robert Barrington has said:

corruption is not as bad in the UK as in some parts of the world; but it is much more profound in the UK than many people understand or admit.

And as TI-UK’s head of advocacy Rachel Davies told the Independent in 2016:

the UK is one of the leading financial centres for the laundering of corrupt money from overseas, whether through the property market, luxury goods or other sectors…

The UK has been a prime location for stashing away illicitly gained wealth, as anti-money laundering systems are weak and sectors such as UK property represent a safe investment, as well as a place to hide corrupt money.

A more “sophisticated” corruption

Journalist George Monbiot, meanwhile, has previously criticised the Corruption Perceptions Index for being “narrow and selective”, and influenced by controversial groups like the World Economic Forum and the World Bank. In a comprehensive article, he asked:

Would there still be commercial banking sector in this country if it weren’t for corruption? Think of the list of scandals: pensions mis-selling, endowment mortgage fraud, the payment protection insurance scam, Libor rigging, insider trading and all the rest. Then ask yourself whether fleecing the public is an aberration – or the business model.

He also spoke of the intimate links between a controversial financial sector and the Conservative-led government. And he insisted:

The City of London, operating with the help of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, is the world’s leading tax haven, controlling 24% of all offshore financial services. It offers global capital an elaborate secrecy regime, assisting not just tax evaders but also smugglers, sanctions-busters and money-launderers.

At the same time, Monbiot mentioned the disaster of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs), police spying on peaceful activists, “the underselling of Royal Mail”, and a political funding structure which allows “the very rich to buy political parties”. And he asked:

Is none of this corruption? Or is it too sophisticated to qualify?

Those who live in glass houses…

In 2016, the Conversation conducted a survey about how the British public perceived routine government practices that are controversial but wouldn’t necessarily fall under the official label of ‘corruption’. It showed that people were particularly uncomfortable about the close relationship between corporations and the government/public sector. Over two thirds of citizens opposed ministers or senior civil servants getting into bed with corporations after leaving office, and they thought the government should ban PFIs.

The Conversation concluded by saying:

So instead of pointing fingers at other countries…, we need to start to look at some of the fundamental corrupting forces at work in [the] heart of the British economy and government.


And it’s pretty clear why the establishment cronies at the Mail would like Lineker to stop making that point.

Get Involved!

Read more about the UK’s role in dodgy international financial practices. Also see more from The Canary on the foreign policy hypocrisy of Western governments.

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Featured image via Damo1977 – Flickr

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