Backlash over Daily Mail 'Crush the saboteurs' front page

Theresa May leads the criticism over the right-wing newspaper's response to call for snap general election


Theresa May has distanced herself from today's Daily Mail front page, which enthusiastically receives her call for a snap general election under the headline: "Crush the saboteurs!"

It added: "In a stunning move, May calls the bluff of 'game-playing' Remoaners (including 'unelected' Lords) with a snap election."

Asked about the headline on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Prime Minister said she "absolutely" did not agree with it, adding: "Politics and democracy are about, of course, people having different opinions, different views."

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She said: "It's important in parliament that people are able to challenge what the government is doing, that there is proper debate and scrutiny of what the government is doing – and that's what there will be."

Labour MP Stella Creasy also criticised the front page, saying it did not reflect the "democratic tradition [of] dissent and debate of which we are proud".

It offered a "chilling tone", she added.

The Guardian agrees, saying the headline carries a "real air of menace".

It continues: "There could be no doubt who these deliberate vandals were, either: unelected members of the House of Lords, and the 48 per cent of the country who failed to vote for Brexit."

Critics on Twitter called the Mail's phrase "Orwellian", "fascist", "aggressive" and "undemocratic", while others said it was a stock phrase of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

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Former Guardian political editor Michael White wrote that the Daily Mail had stooped to the "language of fascism".

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Writing for left-wing magazine the New Statesman, Stephen Bush took a different line, saying the paper's headline was fair enough. It just put into words exactly what May was "thinking", he argued.

"[The] splash can't even be described as the subtext of May's address kicking of the contest yesterday – it's just the text.

"She started her campaign talking about how Brexit was under threat because of those wreckers in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP."

LBC's James O'Brien said: "Every time you think things might calm down, along comes the Daily Mail to absolutely reignite the flames of fury and unrighteous indignation… Crush the saboteurs seems to me to be the opposite of democracy."

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