Daily Mail turns green?

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I looked at the headline, then up at the name of the paper. Then at the headline again. Yes, it was The Daily Mail. Yes, they had devoted their whole front page to an environmental campaign. ‘Banish the Bag’, the Mail tells its readers today. And it’s not just the front page lead but fills pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, plus an editorial by John Humphrys on page 14, and a leader column.

Wow. That’s not doing things by halves. If I hadn’t checked it three times I could’ve sworn I was holding The Independent.

Does this represent a major editorial shift? Has the Daily Mail decided to go green? What next, how to combat climate change?

Well, if the editorial stance has shifted, then the paper will have a job on its hands convincing its highly paid columnists, almost all of whom seem to believe that this whole global warming thing is some sort of massive cultish conspiracy.

It is, wrote John MacLeod in the Mail back on January 5th, “frankly, a religion; as arrogant and as bonkers as the most COMFORT doom-laden of the Armageddon sects, with its own priests, its own mysticism, its own intolerance, its own bigotry and its own lies”.

Climate change dissidents have, Melanie Phillips believes, been censored. The Mail columnist laments “the successful attempt to suppress debate over man-made global warming, with sceptical scientists deprived of grant funding and subjected to venomous smears”.

One of those dissidents, Martin Durkin, who made the (much criticised) Channel 4 film ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, is applauded by Richard Littlejohn for making a film which “outs the scientific case against man-made global warming”. It should, Littlejohn believes, be screened in schools alongside Al Gore’s film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’”.

Peter Hitchens, writing in the Mail on Sunday, poo-poos environmental concerns and proudly reports that “LAST week I began to stockpile old-fashioned high-energy light bulbs. I suspect that it will not be long before they begin to disappear from the shops, and I have no intention of being forced to use the horrible, feeble, glaring low-energy bulbs that we are being ordered to employ. I don’t believe in man-made global warming”.

Christopher Booker argues, in both the Mail and the Sunday Telegraph, that “the latest evidence shows that, while CO2 levels are still rising, global temperatures are lower than they were ten years ago and may soon even fall” (this from a journalist with no scientific credentials – see previous blog).

And David Jones went as far as Churchill, Manitoba, in the Arctic Circle to find plentiful polar bears and locals who were convinced that “the world’s being conned by green scaremongers”. “Doomed?” asked Jones, “don’t you believe it”.

So does the campaign against plastic bags augur a sea change in the editorial direction of the UK’s best-selling mid market tabloid?

Or is it perhaps more likely that this is the fruit borne of the the close ties between Gordon Brown and Paul Dacre? Could it be that there is some link between the Daily Mail’s new campaign and a little reported speech by Gordon Brown last November in which the Prime Minister called for an end to the “single-use disposable” plastic bag? (reported here by Benedict Brogan in… the Mail).

Written by Martin Moore

February 27th, 2008 at 9:03 am

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