The Distiller

Today’s UK headlines, summarised and analysed.

Thursday 26 October, 2017

Good morning

Brief overview: Universities come under fire for teaching with an anti-Brexit stance. The NHS is floating a new scheme that would allow members of the public to take in recovering patients and charge them up one hundred pounds a night.

Outside of the headlines: Voting is currently underway in Kenya as a re-run of the presidential election takes place. Cambridge Analytica, the company that has hidden links to both the Trump and Brexit campaigns, admitted to approaching Julian Assange for further information.

It emerged that The Telegraph has an £800,000 annual contract to publish Chinese propaganda with the state owned China Daily.

Poll of the day:

via Statista

Cartoon of the day:

via Patrick Blower

The Daily Mail

Owned by: Daily Mail and General Trust, owned by Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere

Editor: Paul Dacre

Political leaning: Right / far right

Daily circulation: circa 1,490,000 (10 million views per month from personal computer and 20 million from mobiles)

Brexit stance: Pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Our remainer universities

The Daily Mail has accused universities across the UK of teaching an anti-Brexit stance at their institutions. The paper has issued this front cover in retaliation to the uproar around Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris asking professors to tell the government how they are teaching Brexit to their students, in a move many labelled ‘McCarthyism’.

The Mail goes on to quote two anonymous students who said they felt intimidated by their professors and class mates voting to remain.

Afterthought: This should come as no surprise. Numerous research papers showed the correlation between voters with a higher education and voting remain. Universities are a place for higher education.

As the paper has screamed at its audience a thousand times over: universities aren’t supposed to be safe spaces. Your ideas are supposed to be challenged within their walls. If it so happens that 90% of your classmates and professors voted to Remain, then so what?

In the end, let’s take the word of the editor of the paper himself, Paul Dacre. Asked about his university political experience, he said simply:

“If you don’t have a left-wing period when you go to university, you should be shot”

The Daily Telegraph

Owned by: Telegraph Media Group, owned by Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay

Editor: Chris Evans

Political leaning: Right

Daily circulation: circa. 460,000

Brexit stance: Pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: ‘Excessive’ green tax forces up fuel bill

The Telegraph reports on a new government report that has found green taxes will cost the average household £150 a year. The report, led by Prof Dieter Helm of Oxford University, found that green tax was one cause for high bills.

Afterthought: Government failings across the board were found by Helm to be the main reason for increased prices.

The Times

Owned by: News UK, Rupert Murdoch’s company.

Editor: John Witherow

Political leaning: Centre right

Daily circulation: circa. 446,000

Brexit stance: Neutral / slightly pro-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Rent rooms to hospital patients for £50 a night

In a move that is being floated as a way of easing congestion, the NHS is considering a scheme similar to that of Airbnb. Patients recovering from surgery would pay up to £50 a night for a room at someone’s house to ease congestion. The private company CareRooms have begun a pilot scheme already.

Afterthought: The scheme, creatively nicknamed NHS Airbnb, leaves a bad taste in the mouth. CareRooms has three directors with previous ties to both the health and the hospitality industry; the company does not list its parliament connections, and I couldn’t find any information as to who lobbied on their behalf. This is nothing more than a deliberate move to privatise the NHS by a government that continues to purposefully look away.

The Guardian

Owned by: Scott Trust Limited, run by a board with a policy of non-interference.

Editor: Katharine Viner

Political leaning: Left

Daily circulation: circa. 161,000

Brexit stance: Anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: NHS may rent spare rooms to ease bed crisis.

Running the same story as the Times, today’s Guardian levels out the genuine fears many have at the proposed scheme, which on the lesser end amount to ‘abuse and poor care’. Half of the up to £100 a night bill would go towards the homeowner whose house was being used.

Afterthought: Alarm bells should be ringing. This is a move that is completely open to abuse on almost every level. This is a government that has consistently failed to list its conflict of interests in business, despite it being mandatory to do so.

Martin Williams’s fascinating book Parliament LTD covers this in extreme detail. Williams revealed that:

“MPs hold on average two directorships each in British and multinational businesses, and 40% of these interests go undeclared in Parliament’s register of interests, due to a myriad of technicalities and loopholes”.

On top of this, he

“found that there are 99 MPs with direct corporate links to tax havens; 2465 British companies with politicians sitting on the board of directors”.

This scheme will simply become another cash cow for whichever lucky MP helps to pass it into existence.

The i

Owned by: Johnston Press, whose CEO is Ashley Highfield

Editor: Oliver Duff

Political leaning: Centre

Daily circulation: circa. 264,000

Brexit stance: Neutral

Today’s leading headline: Public asked to take in NHS patient lodgers

The i also covers the NHS Airbnb scheme, going into further details. Hosts must prepare three microwave meals a day and drinks, and require no previous experience at all.


The Daily Mirror

Owner: Trinity Mirror. Its chairman is David Grigson, formerly the chief financial officer at Reuters

Editor: Lloyd Embley

Political leaning: Left

Daily circulation: circa. 716,900

Brexit stance: Anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: £1,000-a-month bung to care for NHS patients

Today’s Mirror also reports with fury about the proposed NHS scheme, stating that the government is trying to ‘farm out responsibility’ by shoving recovering patients out of the hospital and into the public.

Afterthought: We will have to see how this story matures in the papers.

Financial Times

Owner: The Nikkei, which is based in Tokyo.

Editor: Lionel Barber

Political leaning: Centre

Daily circulation: circa. 193,211

Brexit stance: Neutral/slight anti-Brexit

Today’s leading headline: Life assurers rake in billions from boom in pension fund transfers

Further moral ambiguity decorates the front page of the Financial Times today as the paper reveals top life assurers are profiting from pensioners taking their pensions in a lump sum. Over the last two years life assurers in the UK have made about £50bn. The government is now investigating to see if the companies are giving the correct advice to pensioners, rather than trying to maximise their profits.

Afterthought: Expect the government to do absolutely nothing about this.

Top trending stories from across the web:

Al Jeezera

Owned by: Government of Qatar.

Political leaning: Often accused of having the state interests overshadow their independent integrity.

Top article: Kenyans vote in presidential election rerun (link)


Owned by: The British public.

Political leaning: Strict regulation to make it impartial. Centre.

Views: 70 million unique views per week.

Top article: Nick Grimshaw’s Radio 1 show gets worst ever listening figures (link)

Guido Fawkes

Owned by: Paul Staines, a libertarian political blogger, also writes for the Sun on Sunday.

Political leaning: Right/far right. Read by anyone and everyone in Westminster.

Views: 100–250 thousand views per day.

Top article: Labour Suspend Whip From O’Mara

The Canary

Owned by: Six editors and around 25 writers. Editor-in-chief is Kerry-anne Mendoza, prior ties to the Guardian.

Political leaning: Left/far left. Very pro Corbyn. Clickbait — pays its writers on a click per pay basis, encouraging them to produce work that will go viral.

Views: 2.8 million a month

Top article: Jeremy Corbyn just busted the nasty trick Theresa May is hiding behind Universal Credit [VIDEO] (link)

Final Thought

News shouldn’t tell you how to feel. The news should present facts, and allow you to formulate your own opinion. Regardless of your political affiliation, try and read beyond the headlines that most of these papers push on you, from the left and the right.