The most recent front-pages from the Daily Express demonstrates their retreat from reality into the realm of myth. Last week, their front-page read, 'Britain Is Full and Fed Up' and their response was to launch a 'crusade' to stop a 'flood' of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants from entering the country next year.
An element of this 'crusade' was to create a petition that states:
"With youth unemployment in Britain running at nearly a million, to facilitate a new major migration from Romania and Bulgaria would amount to a betrayal of young British people looking to get on the first rung of the jobs ladder.
A large new migration from Eastern Europe could also risk numerous other harmful effects including placing further strain on housing, public services, welfare and community cohesion. It must not be allowed to happen."
There is a very real danger of the Express co-opting and channelling a real and legitimate frustration and sense of betrayal against vulnerable migrants. In Eco's 14 Points of Fascism, these groups warn about 'intruders' as they exploit the natural fear of difference. By definition, this movement is inherently racist.
One of the roots of fascist psychology is the obsession with plot. With Express readers besieged (by a flood of migration), xenophobia becomes rife. However, this plot must also be internal. For example, they cast the 'Europhile' Nick Clegg as the villain who downplays any plot as David Cameron's power is 'emasculated' by EU legislation. The conspiracy of unlimited migration quickly becomes easier to swallow.
Despite benefit and health tourism being widely debunked and quietly corrected by other tabloids, the Express still plays into the manufactured fears of their readership. Unlike the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini, the Express needs no salutes or swastikas - it creates the internal enemy in inflammatory language.
Their current petition has over 10,000 signatures but I was able to sign using a pseudonym and the address of a company I once worked for in Toronto, Canada. Despite it being designed for 'UK residents only'.
Moreover, in this retreat from fact, they make other wild claims:
"Campaigners say that could see 50,000 to 70,000, Romanians and Bulgarians a year arriving in Britain over a period of five years."
"But from January 1 states are required to lift limits and offer 29 million people full rights to work and benefits."
Romania and Bulgaria have 29million people between them, they will not all move here, but it suits their inflammatory 'flood' narrative. Both nations have had access to the UK's labour market since 2007, so it is highly likely many who wanted to work in this country are already here.
Politicians are joining this campaign and none more excitedly than UKIP's Nigel Farage, who took the chance to further distort and scaremonger.
I would welcome a debate on the pros and cons of migration but not on proto-fascist terms. If Britain was truly 'full-up' as the Express claims, why are thousands emigrating every year?