Christians should lead the way in a boycott of The Daily Mail

Daily Mail 11-2-14In recent days, The Daily Mail has started a campaign arguing that Britain should divert money from its overseas aid budget to give to victims of the UK floods.  

Its editorial yesterday said

“Britain has given hundreds of millions towards flood relief overseas. Today, it is our own people who are enduring the misery, and the Mail believes there could no better use for the aid budget than alleviating Third World conditions at home.”

Their front page gleefully reports today:

‘MORE than a 100,000 people have backed the Mail’s call to use foreign aid cash to tackle the flood crisis.  Within hours of its launch, celebrities, MPs, community leaders and victims had added their names to our petition. At the same time a poll found an overwhelming 73 per cent of Britons think overseas development funds should be diverted.’


There is no doubt that the floods are horrendous for those affected – they have ruined people’s homes, livelihoods and caused misery.  We should support all practical and political efforts which can help relieve people’s suffering.

But the editorial decision, taken by the Mail, to use this domestic crisis as a way of generating opposition to Britain’s overseas aid to help other countries is deeply cynical. They have deliberately chosen to present two issues which have nothing to do with each other in a way which convinces many that overseas aid is taking money directly away from British people who are suffering.  

The difference aid makes

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak to the Christian group within Department for International Development (DFID).  I was struck by their commitment to administrate aid overseas as well as possible in the most appallingly terrible situations. 

It is worth remembering  that in recent years overseas aid spending has funded the vaccination of 440 million children against preventable diseases, the immunisation of 2.5 billion children against polio and treat 11.2m cases of TB worldwide.

Whilst the UK floods are terrible for those affected, they cannot be compared to much of the suffering going on in places where DFID send aid.  Much of the damage will be covered by insurance unlike the situation for many flood victims in poorer countries.  In today’s Mail they give a whole 2-page story to a report titled ‘Now even the fish are in danger’. It has the shocking subtitle:

‘As the filthy water rises, one man fears for his collection of koi carp’.

People are severely inconvenienced and it is tragic – but people are not dying. We need to get some perspective and sadly this is another example of The Daily Mail not providing it.


In the aftermath of the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989, a huge number of Liverpudlians were disgusted with the way The Sun newspaper reported false allegations about Liverpool fans stealing money from dying people.  It led to a sustained and widespread boycott of that newspaper in Liverpool that continues to this day.

I think that readers of The Daily Mail who disagree with this campaign should boycott the paper and not buy it anymore.  This will be the only significant way to show them how wrong this campaign is.


And I believe that Christians should lead the way.  We should find the Mail’s campaign just as offensive as the topless women on Page 3 of The Sun.  God cares passionately about the poor – just pick up a Bible and read some of the 3000 verses which relate to poverty and justice.  

I believe the Mail’s anti-development campaign is deeply anti-Christian.  It directly counters the great work being done by groups such as Christian Aid, Tearfund and CAFOD. Christians should make a stand and buy a different paper.

Why not share this post with someone you know who reads The Daily Mail and see what they think?

31 thoughts on “Christians should lead the way in a boycott of The Daily Mail”

  1. This is a perfectly good argument, and one with which I agree, but it is totally undermined by your statement that this campaign by the Mail is more offensive that the Sun’s topless women on page 3, a campaign which daily validates a culture of oppression, discrimination, disrespect and violence against women. Why on earth would you ruin your article with such an outrageous statement? Why mention it at all, let alone by deeming it as a lesser problem?!


    1. Hi Rowena – thanks for the comment and actually I agree with you that that comment was unwise. After posting it, a good friend texted me to say the same thing so I edited it to say what it currently says – and then I saw your comment. I was trying to make the point that just as pictures of topless women are unacceptable in Christian culture so should these perspectives be – but I take your point.


  2. I agree Jon. Can you start a petition for the opposite? i.e. don’t divert overseas aid money to repairing flood damage in the UK? I already boycott the mail because of their ridiculously over-hyped and sensationalist stories. The coi carp headline is a prime example…


    1. Thanks Rachel – we could do a counter-petition but what newspapers really care about is sales – so I think encouraging Christians and others to boycott hits them where it counts!


  3. Well done Jon. I think the best thing David Cameron has done is to raise and protect the amount of overseas aid to 0.7% of GDP.even at a time of recession. All the papers have their prejudices and moral blindspots, but The Mail’s ‘charity begins at home’ argument is a cynical attack on Christian ideas of compassion and care. We are still a rich country and can afford to maintain our overseas aid budget and.help victims of our floods..I don’t buy The Mail but if I did I would stop! Martin


  4. Obviously people will make their own responses to this. But, as a conscientious, committed and thinking ‘Christian’ (a slippery term these days!), with no political party allegiance, I have observed both the upside and downside of ‘foreign aid’, and I believe this kind of appeal is both naive and misguided. I read a fairly broad spectrum of online media (including the Mail Online); and I can understand why the Mail is responding to the dreadful plight of UK flood victims. Of course, it’s stating the obvious to say that different newspapers have their political agendas … and right-on leftist comedians etc. (who seem to get maximum exposure on TV/radio and certainly are no friends of the Christian faith) relentlessly ad nausiam mock the Daily Mail readership. Yet I read some of the strongest defences of the Christian faith from their editorial and journalistic writers, while I’ve read some of the strongest secularist attacks on Christianity in The Independent and The Guardian.


    1. Doesn’t this show up the Mail’s pretence of defending Christianity as a hollow facade? Nothing even remotely Christian about this editorial position. Isn’t it ironic that the position of the left-leaning ‘secularist attacks’ on Christianity come from the papers which offer the strongest support for helping the poorest at home and abroad?


      1. As with any largely arbitrary division of society, there are christians and there are christians. There are secularists and there are secularists. There are good and bad in both.

        As an agnostic/atheist, I don’t have any issue with people of faith, per se. I do sometimes/often have a problem with religions which frequently seek to impose their beliefs and doctrines on a non-accepting society. Under those circumstances, you will find me attacking religions, too.

        However, one of the problems I do encounter quite often with some christians is that their beliefs seem much more to reflect a strong right wing political bias than to reflect the teachings and examples of Christ, who I would judge is portrayed as progessive in the bible.. The institutional religion seems, through the ages, to have been usurped by people with entirely different agendas to push.

        When even different flavours of christianity fight each other, when even different flavours of islam fight each others, I find it really hard to see any good foundations for their respective cultural heritages.


    2. Hi Phil – thanks for the comment but it seems you think that the Mail’s campaign is perfectly acceptable. When you say ‘I can understand why the Mail is responding to the dreadful plight of UK flood victims’ – I agree, so can I. But why do this at the expense of attacking people who are even poorer and suffer even more? I know the Guardian and Observer has big weaknesses too and I often very strongly disagree with their perspective on families (see the article Families Valued – http://resistanceandrenewal.net/ethics/families-valued/ for example) but for me this editorial decision of the Mail crosses the line for Christians and hence my call for a boycott. I respect your view but I can’t see why this is naive or misguided.


  5. Phil Little, thank you so much for your comments. I was just penning very similar so I won’t repeat them, but I will give my support to them.


  6. Justice for all people, starts with the poorest, living on less than a dollar a day, about ten percent of the world population.


  7. There is a book by a respected Zambian economist called Dambisa Moyo called Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa (2009). It argues quite cogently that aid is not all its cracked up to be and that much of it does more harm than good. If aid is counterproductive then its main benefit is the assuaging of our consciences. Certainly the EU functions as a conspiracy against the Third World and then gives back a little in aid in a form likely to foster corruption that will create further poverty.


    1. Hi Tim and thanks for the comment. Yes I have read ‘Dead Aid’ and it was very thought-provoking. I actually referenced it in my talk to the DFID group as I was talking about grace and truth with homeless people and I believe that giving money to people begging is often ‘dead-aid’ as it too often is not life-giving but rather life-threatening. I don’t know enough about the reality of the situation in Africa to comment on whether Moyo’s thesis is correct – but a reasoned debate of these issues is not what I see in the Mail.


  8. I completely disagree with this statement and the points raised. Where giving aid in foreign countries is important, you MUST take care of your own “home” before you can look after someone else’s. There is nothing more important financially than to make sure that our own nation and people are looked after before we give money away to other countries. If out own country is in a mess and debt may i add, we are in no position to give money away


    1. Hi James – thanks for reading and commenting and yes, we definitely disagree, On the basis you suggest, a country would never give any aid because there will always be people struggling in different ways in a country however rich it is.


      1. Yes while i do agree that if we only looked after our own problems we would never give any aid to anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that in dire circumstances we shouldn’t cut back that aid if it is needed in our own home. Also not all foreign aid (if not most) is of much use. Is giving a billion pounds to India so they can focus on space research more important than looking after people in Britain who are losing their homes? How much more of our “foreign aid” is money completely wasted? It’s just political garbage. No nation will ever be in favour of a government that seems to care more about other countries than it does about it’s own


  9. Sorry, completely disagree. I have zero interest in religion, but do consider myself to be a caring individual. However, I am completely against sending so called aid to many of these countries the Mail are talking about. Those countries are rife with corruption and much of the aid ends up in the hands of dictators who spend it building palaces and the like.

    No charity begins at home and that is where we should spend our money; not where Christian and political activists say we should spend it.


    1. Hi John – thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, of course there is corruption and problems with aid but has clearly had some hugely positive outcomes too. When you say in a generalised way ‘those countries are rife with corruption’ it sounds so sweeping and like you just blame them for thier poverty. Do you want us to sit by and not do anything to help. How is that ‘caring’?


      1. Jon, to be honest…YES. I care more about those who live in the UK.

        You can generalise in your comments about the Mail so I feel entitled to do the same about giving aid to corrupt countries. Sorry but enough is enough, politicians and people with your views should listen to the public and come down of their high horses.


  10. I firmly believe that we have a moral obligation to provide foreign aid, given our countries exploitation of labour and resources in the developing world, starting with the slave trade, through colonisation and the current mechanisms by which trade and finance are controlled. Britain’s political and economic position on the global scale owes a great deal to our past actions – these (and those of our European neighbours) have created a fundamentally unequal world in enriching Europe at the expense of the developing world. Yes, Britain was the birthplace of the industrial revolution but the effect of industrialisation on the climate is and will continue to be felt unequally in countries like low lying Bangladesh, and island states that have made little contribution to CO2 levels but are most vulnerable to its effects. We – and I mean the post-Industrial countries in the EU, BRICS and the US should be providing financial aid to these countries to help them adapt to the effects of climate change. They have had little benefit from industrialisation but will be more impacted by its effects. Inequality is also the issue in the UK – we are a wealthy country but the wealth sits with the top 1% and does not trickle down, contrary to the neo-liberal economic theories that all western governments seems to cling to. We have sufficient resources here to ensure that no one in this country lives in poverty or suffers hardship from freak weather events the issue as you mentioned is how our money is spent – these are choices that are made for political reasons as we have all agreed. Whilst I do feel compassion and empathy for those in this country affected by flooding, I find it difficult to compare it to natural disasters in the developing world. We have the infrastructure, the skills and the finance to rebuild communities – those countries do not. We have the opportunity to mitigate future flooding if the right policy decisions are made. I do agree that there are issues with how aid is apportioned and spent but greater oversight rather than reduction is the key to this. I would go into why aid is used to the advantage of the donor rather than the receiving country but don’t want to write an essay… suffice to say it is tied up in the mechanisms of the WTO (which is skewed in favour of the developed world), preferential trade agreements and access to resources…


  11. After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and from now on every time a comment is added I receive four emails with
    the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?


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