PETER FROST is feeling a little sick. He has been reading the Daily Mail.
So the Daily Mail has decided to have a pop at what it calls the Plastic Brits in team UK at the Olympics. ‘Business as usual’ you might say from this racist and xenophobic rag. And, as usual, it’s all bollocks.
The Daily Mail has a long and far from proud history of making up stories to promote its racist anti-immigrant and ultra-right position as well as its long time unprincipled support of Tory Governments.
As long ago as 1924, the Daily Mail published the forged Zinoviev Letter, which indicated that British Communists were planning violent revolution. The forgery won the 1924 election for the Tories against Labour.
By the 1930’s the paper was a keen supporter of both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. A 1933 editorial praised the Nazis “The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany” it trumpeted.
The next year 1934 saw perhaps the most notorious Daily Mail headline. “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” it shouted praising Oswald Mosley and his traitorous British Union of Fascists for his “sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine”.
Let’s get back to sport. In the 1980’s Zola Budd was a young white barefoot runner in apartheid South Africa.
In 1984, at just 17, she broke the women’s 5000 metres World record. The race was in South Africa, then excluded from international competition because of its apartheid policy, the authorities refused to ratify the world record.
Step forward the Daily Mail. The paper persuaded and paid Budd’s father to get young Zola to apply for British citizenship, on the grounds that her grandfather was British.
The Mail had consistently opposed the world wide sporting boycott of South Africa organised by the anti apartheid movement.
The Mail reckoned it could get round the boycott, hurry through Budd’s British citizenship and get her to complete in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. No talk of ‘Plastic Brits’ then. Just a white girl winning a medal for Britain.
Anti apartheid campaigners were outraged at special treatment Budd received; other applicants, mostly black, had to wait years to be granted citizenship, if at all. The Mail used its influence and its money to cut corners.
Despite the many protests Budd, clutching her brand new British Passport, soon earned a place on the British Olympic team.
In Los Angeles, California, the media billed the 3000 metre race as a duel between Budd and American world champion Mary Decker.
Decker set a fast pace from the starting pistol with Budd close behind.
The race between the two of them was vicious and after at least three collisions Decker stumbled and fell, injured, and out of the race. Had Budd tripped her?
Budd came in seventh to the loudest booing the Olympics had ever heard.
With more support from the Daily Mail Budd raced in Britain and abroad.
In 1988 African nations claimed that she had raced in South Africa and insisted she be suspended from competition. The International Amateur Athletics Federation agreed and suspended her.
Budd had had enough and went home to South Africa. After just four years as a Daily Mail sponsored ‘Plastic Brit’ she returned to being what she had always really been – South African.
Of course the Xenophobic Mail is always very selective with its targets.
Strangely we have heard no criticism from them of perhaps the worst example of a Plastic Brit seeking to sneak in under the immigration radar masquerading as a UK sportsman at this year’s London Games.
This man was born in Belgium, with an Australian father. How can we let him get away with it? I expected the Daily Mail to demand.
But No. Perhaps when you win the Tour de France and seven Olympic medals, including four Gold’s, like Bradley Wiggins – and of course you are white – you get special treatment from the Daily Mail.
This article was first published in the Morning Star August 2012