Mehdi Hasan, columnist for the Daily Mail?

October 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm (Daily Mail, New Statesman, Rosie B)

This Daily Mail on Milliband business has certainly brought people together.  From Tariq Ali  to David Cameron they all agree that the Daily Mail was obnoxious, hateful, wrong, and every other derogatory adjective in its attack on Ed Milliband’s father.

Mehdi Hasan’s diatribe against the Daily Mail on Question Time has gone viral.

I’m no great fan of Mehdi Hasan and have wondered why such an ultra-religious bloke got the Senior Editor (Politics) gig at the New Statesman, but I was applauding this:-

Let’s have the debate about who hates Britain more, it isn’t a dead Jewish refugee from Belgium who served in the Royal Navy, it’s the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail.

Good for him.

The Daily Mail has fought back very dirty.  It has now leaked a letter from Mehdi Hasan to the editor of the Daily Mail requesting a column, and presenting himself as being in tune with the Mail’s ethos:-

  • that the “Mail had a vitally important part to play in national debate” [I suppose all forms of bigotry should appear in national debate - it's only fair]:
  • that he admires Paul Dacre’s relentless focus on the need for morality and integrity in public life;
  • that he was more in tune with the Mail than the left on “social and moral issues”;
  • that he will make the left wing case against abortions;
  • that he admires the Mail’s social conservatism on marriage, the family, abortion and teenage pregnancy;

It’s no surprise that a religious fellow like Hasan should be socially conservative.  It’s easy enough to imagine a socially conservative Catholic with leftish views on economics and foreign policy.   Hasan didn’t say that he’d write about cellulite, women getting fat and dodgy foreigners, and if hired, might have given the Mail’s readership a more positive spin on immigration.  But what the hell was he doing at the New Statesman?

Update:-

(Yuk,  this link is to the repulsive Guy Fawkes, but Mehdi  praises Dacre’s “outspoken defence of faith, and Christian culture, in the face of attacks from militant atheists and secularists.”

Militant – for atheists like Richard Dawkins – means outspoken and rude.

Militant – for theocrats – means mowing down children in a shopping centre.

7 Comments

  1. Robin Carmody said,

    Some historical context here …

    I think it is a fairly common phenomenon to be culturally more in line with the Mail but politically more in line with the Guardian (Alan Bennett once defined himself as such, though not citing the specific names of newspapers); people like Roy Hattersley or the unmentionable Neil Clark have got round this by writing about cultural matters for the Mail (or the Express, or the Telegraph) and political matters for the Guardian. I myself have stated on here that I share Peter Hitchens’ hatred of the term “train station”; that doesn’t mean I agree with his more profound views.

    The divide on the Left re. the Mail is between the belief that everything about it is equally vile (the post-New Left view) and between the belief that its politics are obnoxious but its social views are sometimes right (the Old Left view). This is merely part of a much greater, half-century fracture on the Left. Half a century ago it was no more surprising that the editor of the New Statesman should have written a great rant against the Beatles than it would have been if editor of the Spectator had done so, but very soon afterwards, being on the Left was redefined and people like said editor, Paul Johnson, were more or less forced to the Right and indeed to the Mail. On the other hand, Johnson (who at one point even wrote for the Sun!) later stopped writing for the Mail and denounced the sort of crude, populist journalism it indulged in, arguing that it damaged the civility and credibility of the Right, making them seem hysterical and aggressive and undermining conservative traditions of good manners and standards of behaviour. Quite a lot of conservatives actually dislike the Mail for these reasons (not as strongly as they’d dislike the Sun, but it is by no means universally admired on the Right); I remember Derek Turner, odious former editor of Right Now!, saying that he had a strong personal dislike for the Mail because it didn’t fit with his standards of civility, etc.

    There is also a split between Old and New Lefts a propos the Murdoch press; for the Old Left (the sort who sometimes relate to and identify with the Mail’s social conservatism) it is the absolute lowest of the low, whereas sometimes the New Left feel some kind of empathy and identification with it, not over political views obviously, but over the sense of Murdoch as someone at odds with the British establishment and promoting stuff the Mail would see as trash, over its reaching a version of some 1960s New Left ends even if for utterly different means. The social and cultural differences between the Sun and the Mail, in terms of their ultimate idea of Britain and what they want this country to be, are deep and profound, in their own way as great as those between the Guardian and the Mirror. Some people on the Left don’t get this. I’d happily see both disappear tomorrow, and I think they’re just as bad in different ways (I’m not going to choose a “least worst”, because I’m part Old Left and part New Left so can’t really take sides here), but they’re not the same and never have been.

  2. Robin Carmody said,

    Another way of putting this is that the Mail and Murdoch have subtly different attitudes to capitalism. The Sun unequivocally loves both the *theory* of deregulated capitalism and the *practice* of what it produces. The Mail only likes the theory, and is often deeply ill at ease with the practice, to the extent that some traditional socialists feel it can be worked with to be somehow turned into an anti-capitalist paper – the potential is seen to be there, because it is critical of the *products* of capitalism, what it leads to, in a way that Murdoch is not. This I suspect is why Mehdi Hasan wanted to write for it.

    (This is not any kind of apologia for the Mail – just an explanation of the context)

  3. s4r4hbrown said,

    My views are probably fairly close to Rosie’s here. I also didn’t like the bit about militant atheists one bit – and elsewhere Mehdi is prone to say ‘atheists’ when he should say ‘zealous atheists’ or even ‘anti-Muslim atheists’. (Compare those who will describe almost any Muslim as an ‘Islamist’). Some of his comments and views deserve scrutiny – but sometimes that scrutiny is disproportionate and nasty, and ignores the many very reasonable pieces he has written. So – the letter’s pretty cringey and his views are pretty different from my own – but I think this reflects worst on the Mail. And he was jolly good on QT.

  4. R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    a) the Daily Mail pays extremely well and AFAIK Mehdi Hasan does not have a trustfund or an academic sinecure and so has to work for his living.

    b) it does also allow some latitude to columnists – after all it employed Julie Burchill who was a self-proclaimed Stalinist who used her columns to praise the civilizing role of the Red Army in Afghanistan and urge readers to vote Labour.

    c) Having small-c conservative social views is not as uncommon on the Left as you’d think – you could still find many leftists back in the 1970s who detested middle class hippies and everything they stood for and it is only as the left has become radically de-proletarianised that Owell’s “dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking toward the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat” have finally taken over.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I can agree with all of that, Roger, and still have this feeling that Hasan – so often ultra-judgemental and self-righteous about others – has been exposed a bit of a hypocrite. Which doesn’t change the fact that his denunciation of the Mail was spot-on.

      • R F McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        What is it Churchill said about hypocrisy being the tribute paid by vice to virtue?

        All that matters is that a vicious class enemy has been discomfited and may have just a little less power next time it is telling us all how to vote.

        So anyone who contributes to that deserves our applause.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Agreed.

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