The click-heavy debating forums at the Express (and now the Mail) are a healthy way to ramp up interest in the website, but debate and freedom of speech isn't quite enough for them. Heaven forbid that there might be open and honest discussion of anything; no no no, the proles have to be shepherded towards certain conclusions.
Sarah_editor is a character on the Mail's boards whose antics I've documented before. I'm convinced she works for them, though of course she may not and may merely be coincidentally asking very pointed questions to try and kick off debate. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but does sarah_editor try to kick of reasoned debate, or does she try and skew the discussion in a certain direction? Why isn't she open about being a Mail stooge, if she is? And if so, why might that be?
Take a look at this:
The idea of 'personal carbon trading', recommended yesterday by an all-party committee of MPs, is that every adult in Britain should be given an annual carbon allowance and a 'carbon ration card', to use each time they buy petrol, oil, gas, electricity and flights. Anyone who exceeded their allowance would have to pay to top up their 'carbon bank'; those with unused credits at the end of the year could sell them for cash.
Is this a plan to save the planet or a ploy to tax us even further?
A very open question. That's there to try and bring in the responses, not close down the debate. Or is it? 'A ploy to tax us even further'? Tax is, of course, theft, let's not forget that. And when that means taxing poor folk like Lord Rothermere to get to his Jamaican holiday hideaway whenever he wants, well then WE are all feeling the pinch, says the Mail.
Mind you, this is small potatoes compared to the list of questions on the Express website - all of which are definitely written by website staff. And these messages have been on the front page of the 'Have Your Say' section for months:
Do we let too many immigrants into Britain? We allow too many immigrants into Britain both legally and illegally. The costs of immigration are well documented and the pressure they put on the infrastructure of our country is immense.
• Posted By 'Elgar1857'
We are allowing the dilution and erosion of our heritage and traditions. Our culture is becoming blurred...
• Posted By 'abuela'
They never seem to get changed. Funny that. It's almost as if the Express wants to keep anti-immigration posts on the front page of their debate website forever, regardless of the fact that they were written months and months ago. Still, that's 24-7 news for you, isn't it.
See if you can spot an agenda in this list of questions:
SHOULD BRITISH JOBS GO TO BRITISH WORKERS?
Do we need much tougher security checks on refugees?
Have you had enough of being fleeced under Labour?
Should all vandals be caught and punished?
Should Britain give immigrants benefits?
Has Labour's mishandling of immigration ruined Britain?
Compared to which, Sarah_editor looks positively subtle in comparison. I love the idea that there might be some people who don't think vandals should be caught and punished*. Not loaded questions at all, are they?
Here's my favourite, though:
SHOULD BRITAIN QUIT THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST?
But now it seems the Eurovision joke is on us with even BBC host Sir Terry Wogan kicking up a stink over an
eastern European fix.
What's the wigged-up scab been saying now?
The amiable Irishman has threatened to quit the contest after the UK’s entry Andy Abraham finished in 25th and last place on Saturday despite his song Even If being better than most of the other offerings.
Not surprisingly, Russia’s Dima Bilan won with a massive 272 points thanks to the support of the eastern bloc, including the maximum 12 points from ex-Soviet states Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Armenia.
Eurovision is just like the EU. It soaks up British money and technical support and then walks all over us. The whole Eurovision thing is a stitich up that makes the British look stupid. Voting is biased against us (just like the EU) and seems strangely manipulated by the Russians. I think the Eurovision song contest has outlived its usefulness, just like the EU and we should cut our losses and pull out of both. The British and Europeans have never got on with each other. The Europeans will always look after their own and will never side with Great Britain. Let's do something with USA, Australia, Canada etc instead. At least they speak decent English and I think they might actually like us.
Do I need to add anything to that masterpiece?
and yes we should quite, we have no hope of ever winning again ,
its a load of rubbish and what gets me mad is we have all of those country's scroungers living off the backs of the tax payer of this country .
yes quite the eurovision and quite the EU.
This show has been a waste of prime tv time for years and a waste of our licence money too.
Spend our licence money on better programs than this from now on!!
Cyprus is getting closer
What? How...? Is someone towing it through the Mediterranean?
What song contest? Even the so called compares are dismal and unprofessional. This year the girl looked like someone had run up a pair of curtains for her dress and the guy looked like he had bought his from Oxfam. It was too tight and the trousers were too long. As for the so called performers, well they were nothing more than bathroom singers and some not even that. Lets break away from this dismal show and have some decent talent on our own television networks.
Ha ha! I love it.
So there you have it. As with pretty much everything, the Mail soft pedals while the Express blunders in aimlessly smashing everything as it goes. But both are trying to steer debate in a certain direction, especially when you have these handy clues down the right-hand side of the page:
IN OUR OPINION
truth about tax
Labour saw taxation as a positive good - but you don't hear much of that philosophy now
EDWARD HEATHCOAT AMORY: Is it now respectable to argue that lower taxes are a good thing? Economically and morally, that is
So there we have it. Tax is back on the agenda. Lower taxes and a smaller state - that's the message from Conservative HQ, and that's the message from the mid-market newspapers. Coincidentally it means their billionaire owners would be much better off, of course, but don't for a moment think that's got anything to do with their stance.
* Actually there will be many who will condone poor property owners undertaking 'constructive vandalism' to avoid paying tax on their assets - buildings left completely empty in town and city centres, benefiting from the rising cost of property for years but not paying any tax whatsoever. Now Jock McBottler has bravely stepped in with a feeble attempt to get them to pay something at all, we will hear more and more warnings about 'soft stripping' and 'constructive vandalism' from poor hard-up multimillionaire property owners. And no-one will think there's anything wrong with that at all. Obviously if some bunch of kids did the same thing, that would be evil and bad.