British broadsheets consider Europe to be of such importance that leader articles on the subject are always written by the most senior member of staff. The Eurosceptic Daily Mail’s Chief Leader Writer said in 2003: “In a sense it [Europe] is in the bloodstream of the paper. It’s what makes the paper tick. It’s about standing up for sovereignty for this country, not being sucked into this amorphous super-state.”
And yet there is almost no coverage of European politics in the British press, and no British tabloid has a European correspondent. The Daily Mail’s Chief Leader Writer said: “We couldn’t report on what is going on in Europe, and no paper can because the readers won’t wear it. It is simply not conceivable that we would cover, for example, the European Parliament.”
In the place of coverage we have comment. Voters cannot engage meaningfully with a democracy they know so little about, and perhaps that is the intention. The British are being led by the nose by newspapers that are so avowedly Euroscepticic that they are content only to criticise the EU, not cover it.
The British are disaffected with politics and politicians, especially in the wake of the recent and relatively petty expenses scam, and yet we have one of the cleanest, most stable, functional democracies in the world. The free press helps to keep politics clean and voters engaged, but as the latest scandal dies down we see that the cost is a sinking disillusionment with the whole democratic process.