What a frightening world it must be if you only read the Daily Express

Frightening, but with free baked goods.

Daily Express front page

"BRITAIN'S 40% SURGE IN ETHNIC NUMBERS – 9 MILLION LIVING HERE ARE NON-WHITE", yells the front-page headline this morning. It's a classic tabloid ghost train ride: here come the immigrants, taking over Britain, turning us all a duskier shade of off-pink. When you think about it, "ethnic" is such an odd term to use – we're all ethnic, of one type or another – but they're using it to mean "ethnic minority", as they have done before, together with the rather more blunt expression "ethnics".

I suppose it's one of those things that might bother some people more than others. It depends on whether you think these islands belong to people who are "white" more than people who are "non-white", or whether you see the changes in population as a positive thing. Can you really divide up the various mixed races and groups in this country of rich heritage into the binary of "white" and "non-white"? And if you can, what are you trying to say?

This kind of thing goes back to an "us and them" distinction that has been apparent in the Daily Express and Daily Star for a while, usually in relation to Muslims and British people, as if the two could not possibly be the same. In this instance, the "us and them" narrative is that this country's population is composed of two types of people: white and non-white. The assumption is that "we" are white and "they" are non-white, and there isn't anything in between.

Give the readers what they want

It might be the case, of course, that this assumption may reflect a deeper truth about the readership of the publications in question, but this is still a national newspaper, shouting out from the news-stands to everyone, purporting to tell a version of reality. Even if you are pandering to an ever-dwindling bunch of frightened Little Englanders who are worried about immigrants, that doesn't excuse the use of this kind of terminology, if you're going to have integrity about the things you present as being true and untrue.

But this is 2011. I keep looking at the calendar and imagining that I've slipped back a few decades, to another time, another era, when people didn't know enough about growing up in a multicultural society to know about "ethnic minorities".

But no, this kind of headline is still being splashed in a national newspaper, as if non-pink people were some kind of novelty who only came into being under New Labour and who have been pouring across the (open) borders to try to take over ever since; as if it really is a case of "us" and "them", of "white" and "non-white".

If it weren't so depressing, it would be faintly hilarious. But it is depressing that a newspaper should make a scare story out of there being people in this country who aren't white.

Cakey consolation

The world can be a scary place, of course, particularly if you read the tabloids – but if you got your information about it from the Express and the Express only, you might find it to be more scary than it really is.

Every day, a new scare, a new thing to be worried about, a new reason to hide behind the door chain and be afraid of what's out there. It's a miracle that the readers even manage to get out to the corner shop and buy the newspaper in the first place, so afraid must they be of what lurks out there.

"MILLIONS MUST WORK AFTER 70", thundered Wednesday's edition – but at least there was a free sandwich to keep you going. "FURY AS JUNKIES GET £1BN BENEFITS", boiled Tuesday's edition – with only the promise of a lemon drizzle doughnut to ameliorate that anger. And on Monday, we were faced with "BRITAIN'S HAY FEVER HELL" – mind you, there was a free chicken stuffing lattice on offer, as long as you could see through the streaming eyes long enough to find your local branch of Greggs.

Every day, another scare, another thing to depress you, another thing to make you angry about the unfairness of it all – and another free thing from the bakery. What's surprising, perhaps, is that they're plugging Belgian buns today, of all days. Bloody Belgian buns, coming over here, taking our pastries . . . Still, at least the icing's white. And that's all that matters.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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Want to send a positive Brexit message to Europe? Back Arsene Wenger for England manager

Boris Johnson could make a gesture of goodwill. 

It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Sam Allardyce, who coveted the England job for so many years, before losing it after playing just a single match. Yet Allardyce has only himself to blame and the Football Association were right to move quickly to end his tenure.

There are many candidates for the job. The experience of Alan Pardew and the potential of Eddie Howe make them strong contenders. The FA's reported interest in Ralf Rangner sent most of us scurrying to Google to find out who the little known Leipzig manager is. But the standout contender is Arsenal's French boss Arsene Wenger, 

Would England fans accept a foreign manager? The experience of Sven Goran-Eriksson suggests so, especially when the results are good. Nobody complained about having a Swede in charge the night that England won 5-1 in Munich, though Sven's sides never won the glittering prizes, the Swede proving perhaps too rigidly English in his commitment to the 4-4-2 formation.

Fabio Capello's brief stint was less successful. He never seemed happy in the English game, preferring to give interviews in Italian. That perhaps contributed to his abrupt departure, falling out with his FA bosses after he seemed unable to understand why allegations of racial abuse by the England captain had to be taken seriously by the governing body.

Arsene Wenger could not be more different. Almost unknown when he arrived to "Arsene Who?" headlines two decades ago, he became as much part of North London folklore as all-time great Arsenal and Spurs bosses, Herbert Chapman or Bill Nicholson, his own Invicibles once dominating the premier league without losing a game all season. There has been more frustration since the move from Highbury to the Emirates, but Wenger's track record means he ranks among the greatest managers of the last hundred years - and he could surely do a job for England.

Arsene is a European Anglophile. While the media debate whether or not the FA Cup has lost its place in our hearts, Wenger has no doubt that its magic still matters, which may be why his Arsenal sides have kept on winning it so often. Wenger manages a multinational team but England's football traditions have certainly got under his skin. The Arsenal boss has changed his mind about emulating the continental innovation of a winter break. "I would cry if you changed that", he has said, citing his love of Boxing Day football as part of the popular tradition of English football.

Obviously, the FA must make this decision on football grounds. It is an important one to get right. Fifty years of hurt still haven't stopped us dreaming, but losing to Iceland this summer while watching Wales march to the semi-finals certainly tested any lingering optimism. Wenger was as gutted as anybody. "This is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when we lost to Iceland. I couldn't believe it" he said.

The man to turn things around must clearly be chosen on merit. But I wonder if our new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - albeit more of a rugger man himself - might be tempted to quietly  suggest in the corridors of footballing power that the appointment could play an unlikely role in helping to get the mood music in place which would help to secure the best Brexit deal for Britain, and for Europe too.

Johnson does have one serious bit of unfinished business from the referendum campaign: to persuade his new boss Theresa May that the commitments made to European nationals in Britain must be honoured in full.  The government should speed up its response and put that guarantee in place. 

Nor should that commitment to 3m of our neighbours and friends be made grudgingly.

So Boris should also come out and back Arsene for the England job, as a very good symbolic way to show that we will continue to celebrate the Europeans here who contribute so much to our society.

British negotiators will be watching the twists and turns of the battle for the Elysee Palace, to see whether Alain Juppe, Nicolas Sarkozy end up as President. It is a reminder that other countries face domestic pressures over the negotiations to come too. So the political negotiations will be tough - but we should make sure our social and cultural relations with Europe remain warm.

More than half of Britons voted to leave the political structures of the European Union in June. Most voters on both sides of the referendum had little love of the Brussels institutions, or indeed any understanding of what they do.

But how can we ensure that our European neighbours and friends understand and hear that this was no rejection of them - and that so many of the ways that we engage with our fellow Europeans rom family ties to foreign holidays, the European contributions to making our society that bit better - the baguettes and cappuccinos, cultural links and sporting heroes remain as much loved as ever.

We will see that this weekend when nobody in the golf clubs will be asking who voted Remain and who voted Leave as we cheer on our European team - seven Brits playing in the twelve-strong side, alongside their Spanish, Belgian, German, Irish and Swedish team-mates.

And now another important opportunity to get that message across suddenly presents itself.

Wenger for England. What better post-Brexit commitment to a new Entente Cordiale could we possibly make?

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.