“Don’t Get Fooled Again offers practical tools for cutting through the claptrap and unravelling the spin – tackling the propaganda, the psychology of deception…” proclaims the bio of one of Richard Wilson’s published books.
Richard Wilson is an author and founder of the Stop Funding Hate (SFH) lobby group which recently hit the headlines for the role its supporters played in Paperchase’s U-turn over a Christmas promotion they ran in the Daily Mail. His pressure group say they exist to end so-called ‘hate campaigns’ at the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express.
“This isn’t just about content that may be offensive or disagreeable; this is about stuff which crosses the line and puts people at risk. Stop Funding Hate is an ethical campaign, not a political one,” Wilson tells thedrum.com.
However a brief delve into London-based Wilson’s background suggests he should perhaps take his book’s own advice when it comes to spin and propaganda. His claims that SFH are a-political as an organisation look flimsy in the extreme when you consider both of his published books are loosely based on politics, and a blog on his own website denounces English patriotism whilst proudly announcing his intention to vote Remain at the EU referendum.
Brands can advertise anywhere they want, says Wilson. But he adds that customers should have the power to ensure said brands adhere to certain values, especially those they preach in their own marketing and mission statements.
“In the case of Paperchase, a large number of customers got in touch to raise concerns about the mismatch between the company’s positive, inclusive values, and the values of the Daily Mail,” he claims.
Yet on Paperchase’s own blog where they describe who they are and what they do, not once is the word diversity or inclusiveness used. It calls itself “fresh, inventive and innovative” which can hardly be related to a company with a pertinent pro-migrant stance.
Secondly, when Wilson claims a “large number of customers got in touch” he is possibly talking about four or five hundred people – 1,000 customers at an optimistic push. This is a company with 130 UK stores and another 30 across Europe and the Middle East. What proportion of their customer base was really outraged about the Daily Mail Christmas promotion? The reality: a tiny, but vocal, minority.
Moreover according to YouGov data, 14% of Paperchase’s customers are likely to read the Daily Mail. In comparison, 9% read the Guardian – a paper considered to be the stronger representative of liberal values. This evidence suggests that a notable percentage of Paperchase customers would have read and potentially benefitted from a promotion in that publication – who does this group actually think they are by forcing companies to back away from legitimate and popular (number one, in the case of the Mail) media outlets through little more than a social media feeding frenzy?
A quick scan of SFH’s website reveals this group to be the duplicitous and disingenuous outfit that it really is. On their homepage is a Daily Mail front-page with the headline: ‘Migrant on way to UK kills girl, 9, in Calais.’ This Mail story from 2015 was initially reported in French newspaper Le Parisien and commented on by the then French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. What was the Mail supposed to do, ignore the story? Another thing you are not told is that this same story was also covered by mainstream left-wing newspapers such as The Daily Mirror and the Saudi-owned Independent.
In a Daily Express front-page displayed within a video on SFH’s website, the headline proclaims ‘Migrants threaten to kill truckers.’ This was an article published on 9th June 2015, yet the original story was actually carried by the BBC 19 days previously, as a lorry driver maintained he was “frightened for his life” by illegal immigrants trying to board his vehicle. This is conveniently omitted though – almost as if it is a deliberate tactic straight out of Wilson’s propaganda playbook. Where is the campaign against these media outlets? There is none, of course, because it doesn’t fit their ‘nasty, right-wing’ narrative. Indeed, many of the headlines this group claim are “hate” are actually based on factual reports, objective incidents, or verified eyewitness accounts and are reported on by various UK media organisations.
There’s a tendency to play down the threat this group poses. After all, many of the larger advertisers they have targeted (John Lewis, being one) have thankfully not succumbed to pressure. But we should not take this group lightly either. Last year they influenced a decision at a London university to ban all three newspapers from campus as part of an ironic motion “opposing fascism and social divisiveness in the UK media.” Whether that motion was passed with a sarcastic grin on the faces of the university student union is not known, but that this decision was made at an institution home to one of the UK’s top journalism schools is particularly worrying.
And this leads us to our final point. SFH purports to be against dividing Britain, yet that is precisely what its campaign does by distorting facts and information as exposed above. Twitter’s abuse policy states that the microblogging platform does not tolerate behaviour that “harasses, intimidates or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.” Yet only this week SFH sinisterly proclaimed on Twitter: “We’ll be tracking the most prolific Daily Mail advertisers over the Christmas shopping period & publishing a list in the next few weeks.” This language, using words like “tracking” and “prolific”, infers that advertising in this particular newspaper is a crime. Even more disturbingly, it is language more commonly used to describe sex offenders or paedophiles – the very worst people in our society. Spin it how you like, as Wilson appears adept at doing, but if this doesn’t constitute harassment or intimidation then we fail to see what does.
On his own website, Wilson claims to be tired of the “baseless paranoia peddled by conspiracy theorists of various shades”. Here’s a thought Richard, why not start with your own website if you want to tackle conspiracy theories? We are also tired – so, so tired – of hypocritical leftists claiming to be pro-freedom of expression whilst simultaneously using trolling techniques any Russian would be proud of to turn Britain into some kind of authoritarian regime.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain