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?