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07th Apr 2017

The Sun’s stance on free school dinners shows utter contempt for their readers

The Sun only care about the rich and powerful.

Nooruddean Choudry

Going after the Sun is low hanging fruit.

But fuck it, sometimes they outdo their own lowly standards and it’s hard to ignore. The redtop’s output is hateful and regressive, their attitudes embarrassing and often highly offensive, and their journalistic integrity non-existent, but what really sticks in the craw is their bare-faced cheek. ‘Shame’ is a word they love because they have none.

To claim that they cater for the lowest common denominator is highly offensive to the lowest common denominator. What they do is peddle a melted form of populism that seeks to identify the public’s basest, most depraved instincts, and manipulate them. They take natural human instincts such as selfishness and fear, and use them to cultivate hate.

Sadly it works, because we are all varying degrees of selfish and impressionable. None of us live our lives in complete contentment, and deep down inside, everyone secretly wants – or believes they deserve – a better lot in life. It is very tempting to blame this unfairness of the universe on others, and the Sun absolutely revels in otherism.

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They are unashamedly right-wing, although less proudly biased towards the rich. This is maddening due to their largely working-class readership. They fool the poorest in society into believing that their poverty is the fault of everything else but the greed of the rich. Where once there was a sense of society, there is now a feeling that everyone else is scrounging scum.

Foreigners are demonised, and immigrants (including refugees in need of sanctuary) are painted as invading vermin. Muslims are of course the enemy within, whilst homosexuals are dangerous and subversive to our way of life. As for ‘lefty libtards’, they’re after your hard earned money to spend on dungarees for blind lesbians or something.

The Labour Party is a natural target, especially one that’s more traditional than recent purple incarnations. And especially when the leader is Jeremy Corbyn, who is principled and pig-headedly stubborn to the point of frustration, and certainly not the canniest of political operators. His feet are riddled with bullet holes of his own making.

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On Friday, in amongst all the jingoistic bollocks about Gibraltar and irony-laden vouchers for holidays to Spain, the Sun decided to have a pop at Corbyn proposal for free school dinners for all primary school aged children in the UK. A policy so patently fair and reasonable that it is a scandalous it’s not already in human right.

Headlining their political editorial with ‘CLASS WAR’, the piece is quite remarkable. It sneeringly attempts to convince its readers that guaranteeing young children at least one decent meal a day is outrageous. This in an age when an alarming number of people in the UK – over half a million at conservative estimates – are forced to rely on food banks to eat.

For some children, school is their sole opportunity to eat any form of balanced meal – for many it is their only warm, cooked food. Corbyn proposes to charge VAT on private school fees to fund a measure that would ensure no child goes without. And the Sun’s response? To label the plan an ‘assault on the well-off’ by the ‘hard-left’ Labour Party.

The paper exhibits astonishing disregard for its readers whilst trying to sell them the line that the whole plan is unfair because rich people will suffer. There is a photograph of private school children in straw hats, juxtaposed with kids from what looks like a free school lining up to eat. It is all so galling that it feels like a satire in favour of Corbyn’s policy.

Any deluded suggestion that the paper represents its working class demographic is betrayed by the suggestion that readers should side with rich people who can afford to send their children to the finest schools, rather than hard up people just like them who often struggle to make ends meet and provide their offspring with a healthy diet.

Indeed the tabloid’s stance serves to benefit and protect their scribes, staff and owners far more than their actual readership – but of course it was ever thus. They clearly perceive those who buy their newspaper as scum who are too thick to know any better, and will gladly consume the narrative they’re fed, regardless of how detrimental it is to them and their families.

The heartbreaking fear is that the Sun’s barefaced cheek and utter arrogance is someway justified. That they really are that influential in shaping opinions that are so self-harmful. One can only hope that such mean-spirited and thinly-veiled editorials wake people up to their grubby game.