SubScribe: The Mail and the Dubs refugees: Day 2 Google+

Friday 10 February 2017

The Mail and the Dubs refugees: Day 2

More interesting coverage from the Daily Mail this morning of the Government's decision to end the Dubs scheme to give refugee orphans the chance of a new life in Britain.
This was the scheme trumpeted by the paper in a front-page splash as a "Victory for compassion" - and by extension the Mail - when it was approved last May.
Yesterday the paper reported the scrapping of the policy at the foot of page 6. Today it moves up the agenda to make the page 6 lead, focusing on the Archbishop of Canterbury's "highly political intervention". The piece is illustrated with photographs of three of the refugees who arrived last autumn, which notes in the caption that they were "said to be between 14 and 17". The inference is obvious.
The coverage is intriguing because the Mail usually makes it quite clear to readers what they should think. This story is almost perfectly balanced.
It again talks about refugees living in "squalid and dangerous" conditions and about  a "chorus of protest" and a "furious backlash" over the decision. It gives more slightly more space to the criticisms than to the defence and, while angry Tory MPs make an early appearance,  Theresa May insisting that the Government is "absolutely right" doesn't get a look in until four pars from the end.
In promoting and then celebrating the acceptance of the Dubs scheme last year, the Mail pointed out that it would be open only to children who had been in Europe since the previous March - and so should not act as an incentive for people traffickers. It also said that Whitehall would be financing the scheme - possibly using some of the foreign aid budget.
Yesterday Amber Rudd told the Commons that the scheme was dangerous because it acted as a "pull" for traffickers, and councils were reported not to be able to afford to look after the children. The Mail, which has a master's degree in reminding people what was said in the past, does not pick up on either point. And there is no leader.
If it still believed in the scheme, you'd expect the Mail to be shouting "betrayal". It isn't.
If it believed the Government was right, the Mail would put May at the top of the story and run a leader saying "We tried, we were taken advantage of, it's right to stop". It didn't.
The Mail sitting on the fence? Unheard of - especially on a topic it has claimed as its own.
So is it embarrassed about that uncharacteristic burst of compassion?
Or so in love with Mrs May that it doesn't want to embarrass her?

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