WHEN the Daily Telegraph had the temerity to cautiously ignore the public condemnation of the HSBC bank – one of its biggest advertisers – apoplectic Guardianistas were left spluttering into their Peruvian fair-trade flat whites. How dare the influence of an advertiser dictate a newspaper’s editorial content?
Fast forward a couple of years and the so-called liberal left are using the same tactics to try to change the world view of the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Express by urging big advertisers to boycott the titles unless they stop being nasty to migrants and Brexit remainers. Toy company Lego has already announced – via Twitter, of course – that its giveaway promotions with the Mail have ended and that there are no plans for future partnerships. (No plans, maybe, but watch this space. People have short memories.)
John Lewis, the Co-op, Sainsburys and other big spenders are now under siege from users of the #StopFundingHate hashtag urging them to withdraw advertising from these newspapers. Now while I’m sure that the campaign was launched with the best of intentions, I don’t want a few thousand whining Twitter tosspots telling me what I can and can’t read. If I choose to buy a certain newspaper, I do it in full knowledge of what that title’s agenda is likely to be. If I don’t like it, I’ll buy something else – that’s my choice.
It’s ironic that the sector of society you would most expect to defend free speech should now be guilty of an insidious form of censorship by stealth.
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan