On the utility of foreign press in Ireland…

Peter Preston expands on a themee that was raised on referendum day in Le Monde. That is the influence of British owned Eurosceptic media in the Republic.

Throw in the related weight of truly substantial factors in the Irish equation – the (Irish edition) Daily Mail, the (Irish) Sunday Times – and what have you got? An outside element hectoring and influencing. A verdict on Ireland’s future delivered from an office in Manhattan through innumerable intermediaries.

If we are honest, it is also our island’s problem. Of course, Britain’s government is endemically feeble under such unfriendly fire. Of course referendums reflect the way politicians are seen as economic policies slip out of gear. And of course Brussels doesn’t make the arguments in a way Fleet Street understands. Nonetheless, the cloud of distrust hangs oppressively heavy: one choking part of a noxious mix that brings true depression to those fighting to take European integration seriously.

It’s no help to politicians, who still retain the direct power to change or influence (for better or worse) to believe that the media (indigenous, or not) has a more direct connection to their own people. Nevertheless, Preston reckons there ought to be some basic re-reckoning in the pro European project camp:

Can Lisbon be saved? Not by a weakened Gordon Brown buffeted by the tabloids. Not by voters who don’t see how one thing connects with another. And not by a Brussels that doesn’t know how to address those it needs to win over.

The people who want to rescue Serbia from its past know the perils of narrow nationalism. They – and many like them – need our help because they are striving for something better, sometimes at huge risk. But do we even pause to perceive it? No: European union has become a gravy train of Fleet Street imagining and distant manipulation by men who don’t start from where we start or remember what we ought to remember.

Don’t make them more than a bit of the problem. But don’t brush aside how serious their deep unseriousness has become; or underestimate how direly we’ll all suffer as this project unravels. Choppy waters on Wall Street? Mountainous seas in the Channel? Let’s hope so. Because those who would sink this Europe would have to learn to swim.

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  • Dave

    Peter Preston in common with most Europhiles seems confused about whether we should support his pet project because it undermines nationalism or because it promotes it. What does he think self-interest is other than nationalism? With his pet project, nationalism isn’t being removed from the equation, it is simply being consolidated among 27 states out of the world’s 195 states precisely for the purpose of “narrow nationalism” – because, it is argued, they will have more power to promote their own selfish interests aligned against the other nation states as a single state than they would otherwise have. It isn’t about promoting peace and harmony among the world’s population since the EU accounts for less than 10% of the world’s population with the remainder living in nation states that is other than the emerging state of Europe. He should also keep in mind that Europe’s two world wars were not caused by nationalism but by the imperialism that is the core of the EU project. All that this insidious engineering of a new nation state of Europe will accomplish is the resultant emergence in separatist ‘terrorism’ as the indigenous peoples of the ‘former’ nation states on the continent of Europe seek to reclaim their inalienable rights to self-determination that were stolen from them as part of the engineering that deluded but well-intentioned souls such as Peter Preston supported.

    It is also a myth to suggest that it is necessary to trade national sovereignty in order to trade within the EU. And it is a devious invention to suggest that member states need to transfer more of their sovereignty to the EU in order to reform it. In regard to economic progress, those states in Eastern Europe who seek to join are not doing so to engineer a new world order (wherein the ‘world’ is less than 10% of its population), they are doing so because they are being bribed to join with the promise of free money that is earned on the backs of the labour of workers and taxpayers elsewhere in the EU. If you look at Ireland, 90% of all money that Ireland received went to the farmers. In 35 years of membership, the total amount of all the funds that Ireland received amounts to no more than one quarter of this year’s GDP (and averages out at less than 97% of GDP over those 35 years). This money – and we all like ‘free’ money – wasn’t printed in the EU’s free money press – it was earned by price fixing of food within the EU with the consumers paying higher prices for their food. No-one really benefited from this dismal farce except those do did so at the direct expense of others.

  • Dave

    Typo: (and averages out at less than [b]3%[/b] of GDP over those 35 years).

  • An Lochlannach

    Le Monde itself has a terrible policy towards Ireland. Events are generally reported ‘Á Londres. Vachement malinformé.

  • Jer

    the british tabloids would have little traction on Irish public opinion. Its clutching at straws to push that line. The daily mail went out hard at Bertie for a long time and I dont think they swung the country against him.
    I think that this is a seminal moment for europe and I wonder will many in the corridors of power reflect on the fact that if there was parliamentary ratification the treaty would have passed with about 95%. Unfortunately this drive for deeper and deeper integration may cause greater divisions in europe. There is cauldron bubbling in european societies and politicians would do well to consider what people want from europe.

  • CW

    I know this is off topic, but with the GAA championship season now well underway, I’m disappointed at the total lack of coverage on this site. I wonder if this is due to the fact that such threads (including those on soccer and rugby as well) tend to get hijacked by “saboteurs” and “trolls” with no interest in sport who always bring politics into the discussion with the result that the thread degenerates into a sectarian bunfight. If this is the case couldn’t we devise a system whereby anyone who deviates from the sports topic in hand is immediately yellow carded? I’ve enjoyed such discussions in the past and would like to see them brought back – but without the trolls who spoil it for those with a genuine interest in sport.

  • ulsterfan

    Surely with the “single” market there is no such thing as foreign Press.
    A paper based in London, Paris or Rome has every right to set up business in Dublin and try to influence local opinion.
    In Europe we are all one big happy family.

  • Dave

    Ulsterfan, true, Peter Preston says that we are all one big happy family – all wearing the United Colours of Benetton – until we disagree; and then it is the nasty British media and that the Aussie, Murdoch, butting in from Yankland who causes the dissent – it’s the nasty foreigners causing all the trouble by interfering in Irish internal affairs, manipulating our democracy and public opinion via the media. But hey, we’re pro-Europeans so we want more of those nasty foreigners interfering in Irish internal affairs… err, hang on a second, I thought Peter Preston was against nasty foreigners interfering in Irish internal affairs?

    Still, as a propaganda line, I’m sure many will buy it, i.e. that no right-thinking person could object to surrendering national sovereignty, democracy, independence and the right to self-determination to a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels, so those who do object must simply be reading too many editorials in The Sun. That explains it. We must stop reading British tabloids and then we can all resume the transfer of democratic powers to those who harbour abject contempt for democracy, knowing that we are doing the right thing.

  • Harry Flashman

    Is Preston alleging that the people of Ireland are forced into reading British based newspapers rather than making a free choice and conscious effort to spend their own money in purchasing aforementioned journals?

    If he isn’t what’s his point?