It's rare that I devote an entire post to the subdeck of a headline, but this one really merits further examination - especially if you have any lingering doubts about whether the Express can be regarded as a real newspaper or just an illiterate lying wankrag of shame.
I mentioned last night the Tories' attack on inflation and Gordy McTartantinofshortbread for 'clobbering hard-working families' with evil taxes, boo hiss, covered in the Express.
What I didn't know at the time was how this was being presented on the front page of that newspaper. The headline is pretty standard fare, and for once actually says something that might even be true:
PRICES SOAR AT FASTEST RATE FOR 17 YEARS
It's no secret that prices of essential goods are rocketing far faster than the official CPI 'inflation' figures would have you believe - since they factor in luxury goods and all sorts of other stuff that you don't have the money to buy if your weekly shop is rising in price. Fastest for 17 years? I'm no economist, but food prices are certainly rising faster than they have been for a long time, so I'm willing to believe that might well be true.
But then you get this.
And there's only one man to blame
At the risk of sounding like some annoying internet fisker taking everything literally, what the fuck? How can you not take that literally?
There! There, in words, speaking for itself, is why the Express should be relegated to the same shelf as the Beano. There's the final thread of credibility torn apart. That's the end. Finished. Gone. Dead and buried.
The 'one man' who is 'to blame' for UK inflation (despite an independent central bank), the international credit crunch (which began in the United States thanks in part to Ninja mortgages and greedy banks), a rising world population creating growing need for food - including the 30 million affluent Chinese eating more meat - at the same time as pressure grows on arable land for biofuels and other cash crops, and the rising price of rice, wheat and other staples, is, of course, Jock McBroon. All those compliated economic factors affecting the globalised economies of the world, and there's just one man to blame - really?
If Gordon Brown really *were* responsible for such worldwide problems, that would be a reason to laud him as the most powerful human being in history. If he could really create a global recession single-handedly, he would be mightier than Caesar at the height of the Roman Empire.
There's only one man to blame. Really? Just one? Gordon Brown has done all of this, has he? Yes, he raised transport costs during his time as chancellor, which affect inflation. Yes, he made the Bank of England independent from parliament - but that was a decision, scornfully contemptuous of democracy as it was, which was expressly designed to keep inflation down (whether it really has or not is a different matter). But that doesn't explain inflation itself - that doesn't explain away the rising world food prices, which are down to dozens and dozens of factors that are teensy weensy bit more complicated than some jowly Scot. If you think rising prices are all down to Brown, you are clearly out of your mind.
I have to stop for a moment and contemplate that subdeck. 'There's only one man to blame'. Did whoever wrote that really think - *really think* - that Gordon Brown, on his own, without any help, created the economic climate for the credit crunch and rising food prices? Did that person really think there's only one man to blame? It's so ridiculous it's laughable. So is there another scenario at work? Is the person who wrote that trying to imply, through a subdeck so obviously false and bonkers, that of course it's not just one man? Is it a heavy dose of irony? Is it tongue-in-cheek?
Well, I'd like to think that whoever wrote that doesn't really believe it. But then why write it? Who's pulling the strings? Is there just one man to blame for this pathetic shambles? Or was it a team effort of awfulness? Did people in the Express office really sit around that computer or look at the proof of the front page and say, yep, anothe winner! Or did they shake their heads and mumble disquiet at the sheer lunacy of it, without challenging the loony whoop-whoop decision to write something so demonstrably bollocks on the front page of a national newspaper?
I'm sure that subdeck will be lapped up by the kind of mouth-breathing nutcases who patrol the Express messageboards with their rabidly reactionary views, forever blaming Jock McJudas for everything. It sounds like it was written as a throwaway bit of nonsense by someone who didn't know any better. But I'm guessing it wasn't. It was written by someone who must have known it isn't true - even the vast majority of Tories with a brain don't think rising prices are entirely the fault of Gordon Brown - yet they wrote it all the same, on the front page. Doesn't that go to show what its journalism has come to?
Why even bother with the Express? That's what I keep wondering. Forget the lurch to the right; that's not as bad as its dwindling credibility. Why believe anything it says? It clearly doesn't care about the facts - it just cares about advancing its agenda, regardless of whether it's true or not. It's unsubtle, unsophisticated, inane and embarrassing. It's the Express in 2008. Why does anyone keep buying it?