So… Why does the Daily Express hate the EU?

The <em>Daily Express</em> doesn’t like The EU.

Yesterday, the paper contained this story: "EU attempts to brainwash children with ‘sinister Soviet-style propaganda'."

It makes you wonder, what other reasons does the the Daily Express hate the European Union?

Oh, let me count the ways. 

Here is a list of the all the reasons why the Daily Express hasn’t liked the EU in the last two years.

All of these are headlines from their front page alone.

The Daily Express doesn’t like the EU because…

…it includes Germany
GERMANS PLOT TO CONTROL ALL OF EUROPE (21st Jun 2012)
WE MUST STOP GERMANY NOW (8th Jun 2012)

… they are betraying us
SCANDAL OVER EU BETRAYAL (25th Oct 2011)

… they might start a war
GERMANY WARNS OF WAR IN EUROPE (27th Oct 2011)

… they like to increase the price of things
EU FORCE NEW RISE IN PRICE OF PETROL (28th May 2012)
MORTGAGES TO SOAR IN EURO CRISIS (22nd May 2012)
EU WANTS TO PUT UP YOUR MORTGAGE (24th Jan 2012)

… they will raise our taxes
FURY AT NEW EU TAX ON BRITAIN (5th Jan 2012)
NEW EU TAX RAID ON BRITAIN (30th May 2011)
NEW EU TAX BOMBSHELL (8th Apr 2011)

… they ruin our holidays
NEW TAX SLAPS £450 ON FAMILY HOLIDAY – EU MEDDLING BLAMED FOR RISE (30th Dec 2011)

… they like our prisoners
PRISONERS TO BE GIVEN THE VOTE – FURY AT NEW RULING FROM MEDDLING EURO JUDGES (23rd May 2012)

… they like migrants
BATTLE TO KEEP OUT EU MIGRANTS (5th Mar 2013)
EURO COURT DROPS BRITAIN IN IT AGAIN – ASYLUM SEEKERS CAN STAY (22nd Dec 2011)

… we don’t like their migrants
79% SAY WE MUST BAN EU MIGRANTS (30th Jan 2013)

… they will make their migrants take all our benefits
MIGRANTS MUST GET BENEFITS, ORDERS EU (13th Oct 2012)
GO TO BRITAIN FOR BENEFITS SAYS EU (14th May 2012)

… they will also make migrants take all our jobs
EU WANTS MIGRANTS TO TAKE OUR JOBS (15th Nov 2012)
MIGRANTS RUSH TO GET OUR JOBS (31st Oct 2012)
WORKERS ARE BEING FIRED FOR BEING BRITISH (14th Oct 2011)
EU CHEATS US OUT OF JOBS (9th Jul 2011)

The EU are also ruining our economy…
£100BN WIPED OFF OUR SHARES (21st Jun 2011)

… they are taking over our banks
EU PLOT TO TAKE OVER OUR BANKS (13th Jun 2012)

… they are taking over our courts
EU PLOT TO TAKE OVER OUR COURTS (11th Jan 2013)

… they are increasing the price of our food
NEW EU PLOT TO TAX OUR FOOD (14th Apr 2011)

… they are ruining our pensions
NEW EU TAX WILL HAMMER PENSIONS (15th Feb 2013)
EURO RULES RUIN PENSIONS (1st Aug 2012)
EURO CHAOS TO WRECK PENSIONS (24th Jul 2012)
EUROPE TO RUIN BRITISH PENSIONS (24th Apr 2012)
NEW EU RULE WRECKS PENSIONS (15th Mar 2012)
EU RAID ON OUR PENSIONS (1st Oct 2011)
EU MIGRANTS TO GET BRITISH PENSIONS (13th Jul 2011)
NEW EU RULE TO WRECK PENSIONS (26th Apr 2011)
NEW EU LAW RIPS US ALL OFF (2nd Mar 2011)
MADNESS OF EU PENSION RULING (28th Feb 2011)
NEW EU LAWS TO HAMMER PENSIONS (31st Jan 2011)

… they will slash our house prices
EU RULES TO SLASH HOUSE PRICES (12th Nov 2011)

… they hate the British £
GERMANS DECLARE WAR ON OUR £ (19th Nov 2011)
FURY AS THE £ IS BANNED (3rd Sep 2011)

… they are fining us
NOW EU FINES BRITAIN £250,000 EACH DAY (25th Jan 2013)

… they will take VAT on our new houses
NOW THE EU WANTS 20% VAT ON NEW HOUSING (3rd Nov 2012)

… our economy is too good for them
BRITAIN’S ECONOMY TOO GOOD FOR EU (27th Oct 2012)

… and their economy is tanking
DEATH OF THE EURO (17th May 2012)
THE EURO – IMF SAYS IT COULD COLLAPSE (18th Apr 2012)
DEATH OF THE EURO (11th Nov 2011)

You are also paying for it…
OUTRAGE AS EU BILL TO SOAR BY £1.5 MILLION (7th Dec 2012)
ANGER AT BRITAIN’S £37M A DAY EU BILL (30th Oct 2012)
YOU PAY £6,000 A YEAR TO BE IN EU (15th Sep 2012)
NOW YOU PAY £750 A YEAR TO BE IN THE EU (25th Jul 2012)
YOU PAY £500 TO RESCUE GREECE (22nd Feb 2012)
WE MUST PAY £30BN TO BAIL OUT THE EURO (15th Dec 2011)
FURY OVER BRITAIN’S £50M A DAY EURO BILL (24th Nov 2011)
NOW WE ALL HAVE TO PAY £1400 (5th Nov 2011)
£15BN SCANDAL AS GREEKS BEG AGAIN (9th May 2011)
YOU PAY £400 FOR NEW EU BAILOUT (25th Mar 2011)

… and they are crap with the money we give them
CROOKED EU WASTED £89BN IN ONE YEAR (7th Nov 2012)

… they keep insulting us
EU MAKES FOOLS OF BRITAIN AGAIN (21st Nov 2012)

… they lecture us on human rights
CAMERON: WHY EUROPE MUST STOP BULLYING BRITAIN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS (26th Jan 2012)

… they are killing our pets
TEST DRUGS ON PETS SAYS EU (19th Jun 2011)

… they will kill off the entire country
EU PLOT TO SCRAP BRITAIN (4th May 2012)
EU WANTS TO MERGE UK WITH FRANCE (2nd May 2011)

… they brainwash our children
EU BRAINWASH OUR CHILDREN (18th Jan 2012)

… they are seeking revenge
SECRET EU PLOT TO STITCH UP BRITAIN (20th Nov 2011)
EU PLOTS REVENGE AGAINST BRITAIN (13th Dec 2011)

… they are corrupt
PLOT TO ‘RIG’ YOUR EU VOTE (21st Mar 2011)

… they hate our water
EU SAYS WATER IS NOT HEALTHY (18th Nov 2011)

… you pay for their cosmetic surgery
SCANDAL OF EU MEDICAL PERKS – TAXPAYERS PAY £3M BILL FOR MEP’S COSMETIC SURGERY (7th Mar 2011)

… we export more than them
PROOF WE DON’T NEED TO BE IN EU – BRITAIN NOW EXPORTS MORE (19th Jul 2012)

… they make us use their flag
BRITISH TEAMS FORCED TO WEAR EU FLAGS (14th Jul 2012)

… they never work
EU MADNESS – DIPLOMATS GET 24 WEEKS OFF EVERY YEAR (29th Mar 2012)

… and when they do work they want lots of money
GREEDY EURO MPS DEMAND PAY RISE (17th Feb 2012)
NOW EU DEMANDS MORE OF YOUR MONEY (13th Sep 2012)

… and they don’t like plastic bags
EU BANS PLASTIC BAGS (26th Mar 2012)
DAFT EU WANT ALL SHOPPING BAGS MADE ILLEGAL (19th Jan 2012)
BAN SHOPPING BAGS SAYS EU (20th May 2011)

But we are fighting back…
SPEND EU CASH ON OLD AGE CARE – SAY SENIOR TORIES (4th Jan 2013)

The Daily Express thinks that we want to leave…
56% WANT US OUT OF EU (28th Jan 2013)
GIVE BRITAIN AN EU REFERENDUM (17th Jan 2013)
NOW 56% OF VOTERS WANT TO QUIT EU (19th Nov 2012)
BRITAIN STANDS UP TO BULLYING GERMANS OVER EU BUDGET ROW (23rd Oct 2012)
NOW EU DEMANDS REFERENDUM (26th Jun 2012)
NOW 80% DEMAND VOTE TO QUIT EU (12th Jun 2012)
GERMANS BEG US TO STAY IN THE EU (20th Dec 2011)
VICTORY IN NEW FIGHT TO QUIT EURO (26th Nov 2011)
THE GREAT EU REVOLT (24th Oct 2011)
75% SAY: ‘QUIT THE EU NOW’ (22nd Oct 2011)
VICTORY IN BID FOR EU VOTE (17th Oct 2011)
VICTORY IN BID TO QUIT EU (3rd Oct 2011)
EUROPE: MASSIVE DEMANDS TO VOTE (1st Aug 2011)
373,000 SAY NO TO THE EU (1st Feb 2011)

…And apparently we will soon get to leave!
BRITAIN WILL GET EU REFERNDUM (23rd Jan 2013)
WHY THIS FRIDAY IS D-DAY FOR REFERENDUM (15th Jan 2013)
CAMERON: I CAN IMAGINE BRITAIN LEAVING THE EU (18th Dec 2012)
END OF EU IS UNSTOPPABLE (11th Dec 2011)
TOP TORY HINTS AT EU VOTE SOON (5th Nov 2012)
BRITAIN WILL GET EU VOTE (10th Oct 2012)
BRITAIN’S FIRST STEP TO EU EXIT (16th Oct 2012)
NEW PUSH FOR VOTE TO EU EXIT (17th Sep 2012)
GIVE US THE VOTE TO LEAVE THE EU NOW (2nd Jul 2012)
EU VOTE A STEP CLOSER (1st Jun 2012)
BRITAIN SNUBS EU BAILOUT (8th May 2012)
BRITAIN CLOSE TO EU EXIT (10th Dec 2011)
BRITAIN TOLD ‘YOU CAN QUIT EU’ (15th Jul 2011)
NEW HOPE TO GET OUR OF EU (15th Mar 2011)
NEW CHANCE TO FORCE EU VOTE (30th Jul 2011)
GET BRITAIN OUT OF EU NOW (3rd Mar 2011)
BRITAIN IN THE EU: THIS MUST BE THE END (11th Feb 2011)

Oh… and they want us to leave as well.
NOW EVEN THE EU WANTS US TO LEAVE (10th Nov 2012)

So does the Daily Express like the European Union?

No. They don’t.

I’ve also written about the Daily Express and their obsession about the weather, which you can read about here and the year 2011 through the eyes if the Daily Star.

This post first appeared on Scott Bryan's blog and is crossposted with his permission. You can find Scott on Twitter as @scottygb.

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Excitement, hatred and belonging: why terrorists do it

A new book by Richard English suggests that killing can bring its own rewards.

Like most questions about terrorism, why large numbers of people join terrorist organisations can only be answered in political terms. However terrorism may be defined – and disputes about what counts as terrorism are largely political in their own right – we will be ­unable to understand how terrorist groups ­attract members if we don’t consider the politics of the societies in which the groups are active. But terrorism’s appeal is not ­always political for everyone involved in it. Richard English, in his wide-ranging new book, highlights some of what he calls the “inherent rewards” of terrorism gained by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). According to some former members, involvement in PIRA operations brought adventure, excitement, celebrity in local communities and sometimes sexual opportunities.

Terrorist activity also brought other intrinsic benefits. As one Belfast ex-PIRA man put it, “You just felt deep comradeship.” Or as another said, regarding involvement in the Provos: “Now I felt I was one of the boys.” Yet another reflected tellingly: “Although I was ideologically committed to the cause, for me, in many ways, being in the IRA was almost the objective rather than the means”; conspiratorial “belonging” and “comradeship” were, in themselves, rich rewards. Friendship, belief, belonging, purpose, community and meaning. One ex-Provo described his PIRA years as “days of certainty, comradeship and absolute commitment”. A bonus was that PIRA members’ actions could gain them influence and standing in their own communities; one ex-PIRA man reflected on how he saw himself after having joined the PIRA, in the simple words: “I felt important.”

English is a professor of politics and director of the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews. He has studied political violence in Northern Ireland for many years and, for him, these inherent benefits are one of four ways in which terrorism can “work”. The other three comprise strategic victory in the achievement of a central or primary goal or goals; partial strategic victory, which includes determining the agenda of conflict; and tactical success, which may lead to strengthening the organisation and gaining or maintaining control over a population.

Understanding terrorism, English writes, requires taking it seriously: “treating it as the product of motivations and arguments which deserve serious, respectful engagement; and also assessing it as something worthy of honest, Popperian interrogation”. He is sanguine – surprisingly so, given the conflicts with which he is concerned – regarding the practical results such an inquiry might bring. Finding out how far and in what ways terrorism works has “practical significance” – indeed, its importance may be “huge”. As English makes clear, he “is not arguing that if we understood more fully the extent to which terrorism worked, then everything would have been fine in the post-9/11 effort to reduce terrorist violence”. He is convinced, however, that understanding how far terrorism works can greatly improve the struggle against it. “It does seem to me strongly possible that if states more fully knew how far and in what ways terrorism worked (and does not work, and why), then they would be able to respond much more effectively to it in practice.”

With all its caveats, this is a strikingly bold claim. It assumes that the failures of the post-9/11 “war on terror”, which no one can reasonably deny, were largely due to intellectual errors. But was it a lack of understanding that rendered these programmes ineffectual or counterproductive? Or was it that some of the West’s allies – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and, more recently, Turkey – have been less than unequivocal in taking a stand against terrorism or may even have had some complicity with it? If so, it was the geopolitical commitments of Western governments that prevented them from taking effective action. Again, much of the current wave of terrorism can be traced back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Voicing a long-familiar consensual view, English criticises the US-led occupation for being “ill-planned”, leading to the destabilisation of the Iraqi security situation. But it is not clear that more forethought could have prevented this result.

If Western leaders had thought more carefully about the likely consequences of the invasion, it would probably not have been launched. With the regime and the state so closely intertwined, topping Saddam Hussein always risked creating a power vacuum. It was this that enabled al-Qaeda and then Isis and its affiliates to emerge, gain control in parts of the country and then project their operations into Europe.

Errors of analysis may have played a contributory role in this grisly fiasco. When British forces were despatched to Basra, it may have been assumed that they could implement something like the pacification that was eventually achieved in Northern Ireland. But the kinds of allies that Britain made in Belfast – and before that in the successful counterterrorist campaign in Malaya in the 1950s – did not exist in that part of Iraq. Like the overall programme of pacifying a country whose governing institutions had been dismantled abruptly, the mission was essentially unachievable. But this was not accepted by either the US administration or the British government. The invasion was based in ideological conviction rather than an empirical assessment of risks and consequences. In this case, too, high-level political decisions were far more important in unleashing terrorism than any failures in understanding it.

As has become the usual way in books on terrorism, English begins with his own definition of the phenomenon:

Terrorism involves heterogeneous violence used and threatened with a political aim; it can involve a variety of acts, of targets and actors; it possesses an important psychological dimension, producing terror or fear among a directly threatened group and also a wider implied audience in the hope of maximising political communication and achievement; it embodies the exerting and implementing of power, and the attempted redressing of power relations; it represents a subspecies of warfare, and as such can form part of a wider campaign of violent and non-violent attempts at political leverage.

This is a torturous formulation, not untypical of the academic literature on the subject. English tells us that his book is intended for readers in “all walks of life”. But the style throughout is that of a prototypical academic text, densely fortified with references to “majority scholarly opinion” and buttressed with over 50 pages of footnotes fending off critics. As a storehouse of facts and sources, the book will be a valuable resource for scholars, but its usefulness to the general reader is more doubtful.

The most interesting and informative of the book’s four main sections – on jihadism and al-Qaeda; Ireland and the IRA; Hamas and Palestinian terrorism; and Basque terrorism – is the one on Ireland, where English’s knowledge is deepest. Extensive interviews with people who had been involved in terrorist campaigns in the province led him to what is perhaps his most instructive generalisation: those who engage in and support terrorism “tend to display the same levels of rationality as do other people . . . they tend to be psychologically normal rather than abnormal . . . they are not generally characterised by mental illness or psychopathology . . . the emergence and sustenance of terrorism centrally rely on the fact that perfectly normal people at certain times consider it to be the most effective way of achieving necessary goals”. Terrorists are no more irrational than the rest of us, and there is no such thing as “the terrorist mind”. In many contexts, terrorism has functioned principally as an effective way of waging war.

As English notes, there is nothing new in the claim that terrorism is a variety of asymmetric warfare. The practice of suicide bombing has very often been analysed in cost-benefit terms and found to be highly efficient. The expenditure of resources involved is modest and the supply of bombers large; if the mission is successful the operative cannot be interrogated. The bombers gain status; their families may receive financial reward. (Religious beliefs about an afterlife are not a necessary part of suicide bombing, which has been practised by Marxist-Leninists of the Tamil Tiger movement and in Lebanon.) An enormous literature exists in which asymmetric warfare has been interpreted as demonstrating “the power of the weak”: the capacity of militarily inferior groups using unconventional methods to prevail against states with much greater firepower at their disposal. Understood in these terms, there can be no doubt that terrorism can be a rational strategy.

Yet there is a problem with understanding terrorism on this basis, and it lies in the slippery word “rational”, with which English juggles throughout the book. Terrorists are not always rational, he says; they are prone to overestimate the impact of their activities, and they make mistakes. Even so, what they do can be understood as rational strategies, and in these terms terrorism often works, if only partly. Here, English is invoking a straightforwardly instrumental view of reason. What terrorists do is rational, in this sense, if there is an intelligible connection between the ends they aim to achieve and the means they adopt to achieve them.

This means/end type of rationality typifies much terrorist activity, English maintains. But some of the ends achieved by terrorism are internal to the actual practice. “Inherent rewards from al-Qaeda terrorism might potentially include aspects of religious piety; the catharsis produced by revenge and the expression of complicatedly generated rage; and the remedying of shame and humiliation.” In this case, “hitting back  violently and punishingly at them [the US and its military allies] has offered significant rewards in terms not merely of political instrumentalism but also of valuable retaliation in itself”.

The inherent rewards of terrorism also include the expression of hatred. “The vengeful, terrorising punishment of people whom one hates, or with whom one exists in a state of deep enmity,” English writes, “might be one of the less attractive aspects of terrorist ambition. But it might also (perhaps) be one in which we find terrorists repeatedly succeeding fairly well . . .” Here, he may have understated his case. Killing cartoonists, customers queuing at a Jewish bakery in Paris and families celebrating Bastille Day in Nice will be a rational act as long as it succeeds in venting the terrorists’ hatred. Even if the operation is somehow aborted, the attempt to inflict mass death and injury may still serve as a type of therapy for those who make the attempt. If “hitting back at people whom one holds to be (literally or representatively) responsible for prior wrongs” can be rational on account of the emotional satisfaction it brings the terrorist, how can terrorism fail to work?

Clearly something has gone badly wrong here. Without mentioning the fact, or perhaps without noticing it, English has switched from one conception of rationality to another. Much of what human beings do isn’t the result of a calculation of con­sequences, but more an expression of their sense of identity. Philosophers describe this as expressive rationality, an idea they use to explain why voting in circumstances where you know your vote can make no practical difference can still be in accordance with reason. But is expressive rationality beyond rational criticism? In order to understand terrorism in Israel-Palestine, Ireland and Spain, English tells us, we need to understand the national context in which the terrorists act. This doesn’t imply “a comfortable acceptance of any single national narrative”, given that various terrorist groups “have done much to open such narratives to a very brutal interrogation”.

But is the terrorist narrative exempt from questioning? The reader might think so, as there is nothing in English’s account that fundamentally challenges the narrative of Hamas, for example. There is no discussion of the endorsement in the Hamas Charter of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and no examination of the influence on Hamas’s policies of the delusional world-view that this infamous anti-Semitic forgery articulates. If this is a Popperian interrogation of terrorism, it falls short of the impartial critical rationalism that Karl Popper recommended.

An analysis of the intrinsic rewards of terrorism may be useful in considering the outbreak of Isis-affiliated ­terrorism in Europe. In contrast to that of the IRA, including its ultra-violent Provisional wing, this cannot easily be understood in terms of instrumental rationality. Even when compared with its predecessor al-Qaeda, Isis has been notable for making very few concrete demands. No doubt the present outbreak is partly a reaction to the jihadist group losing ground in Iraq and Syria. But as English suggests, we need to ask for whom terrorism works, and why. When we do this in relation to Isis, the answers we receive are not reassuring.

Nothing in human conflict is entirely new. There are some clear affinities between anarchist terrorist attacks around the end of the 19th century and jihadist “spectaculars” at the start of the 20th. However, there are also certain discomforting differences. Anarchists at that time made public officials, not ordinary civilians, their primary targets; they attacked state power rather than an entire society; and they never acquired a mass base of supporters and sympathisers. Bestowing identity and significance on dislocated individuals and enabling them to discharge their resentment against a hated way of life, terrorism by Isis is of another kind. Against the background of deep divisions in European societies, these rewards could become an increasingly powerful source of the group’s appeal.

John Gray is the New Statesman’s lead book reviewer. His latest book is “The Soul of the Marionette: a Short Inquiry Into Human Freedom” (Allen Lane)

John Gray is the New Statesman’s lead book reviewer. His latest book is The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom.

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue