Thwarting the Will of Some of the People

7 April 2018, 20:49 | Updated: 7 April 2018, 20:57


The row about the passport printers rumbles on. The papers are experiencing a multiple patriot-gasm. They are wrapping themselves in the flag and competing with each to show that they love the country more.

About 300,000 on-line Daily Mail readers were persuaded to stop commenting on how fat some celeb photographed on a beach had got to click an online petition to force the government to change its mind about which company prints our passports.

The paper handed the printout to Downing Street where several Tory MPs who had not gone away for Easter met them for a photo call.

The issue is that a Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto was selected for the contract, rather than British rival with a foreign name - De La Rue.

The Mail thinks this is very serious and its campaign is about British jobs and the security of our travel documents and is not an attempt to boost circulation with a Brexit flag waving campaign, goodness me no, why ever would anyone think that?

It seems likely that if the government had chosen De La Rue in the first place, at an extra cost to the poor tax payer of £120m, the same papers that are whining now would be whining about that, complaining that is £120m that could have gone to the NHS, or on red white and blue bunting for the royal wedding.

One of the Conservative MPs present, Andrew Rosindell said: ‘The British people voted to leave the EU on the understanding we were going to get back control and one of the things we should be controlling is our British passports.

‘We should have the gold standard of British passports. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be that unless it’s manufactured here in the UK.”

That makes sense, after all, Johnny Foreigner doesn't yet know how to print things on paper.

Give them a while, they'll catch up eventually.

This would be a strange fit for the post Brexit, open for business, outward facing, free trading Britain that we have heard so much about.

Being protectionist and awarding a contract based not on price but on whether the company is British seems more to represent a country not confident of itself and anti-competition.

The message would be that if you are a foreign company that can provide a service at a more reasonable rate than a British company, you still won't get the work.

That's not open for business, that's closed for business.

And if it was given to a British company on the basis of security, it would seem perverse given that we are inviting China to build nuclear power stations here, against the advice of our own security agencies.

Rosindell said ‘The Government needs to change this pretty quickly because most people out there don’t understand why this has been allowed to happen.’

Really? I would say that the people don't care about where anything gets made as long as it is cheap.

The reason the British clothing industry is no more, apart from a few isolated pockets, no pun intended, is that we do not want British shirts, they cost too much.

We want ones made by child slaves in Chinese sweat shops, because they are three for a tenner and you can throw them away once you've worn them and go out and buy some more – and get that shopper's dopamine hit of good-feeling brain juice.

We don't buy British things from the British corner shop because it's not there any more because we buy foreign made things from the foreign owned internet company, delivered by the foreign owned delivery company.

It's a bit late to start getting all misty-eyed and patriotic about where our stuff is made, after we've caused the British stores to shut and the British manufacturing to close and sold off the British infrastructure.

Where were the newspaper led protests about selling off the water and the electric and the gas?

British bidder De La Rue protests that it came out ahead of its foreign rival on quality and was undercut only on price.

But as consumers, that's the only thing we appear to care about.

Conservative MP Nigel Evans said: “I hope the Government will listen to what Daily Mail readers are saying and what the general public are saying.”

That's dangerous talk.

If government policy were dictated by simply getting a large number of people to click on a web page to register their support of an issue, then the Tories and their newspapers might not like what they would get.

The Number 10 website hosts petitions that have received as many, or more signatories than the one concocted by the Daily Mail.

There was the one that was for us to accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK.

That got 450,287 people to mark their support.

Another was to make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal. Almost a quarter of a million people signed that one.

Over a million agreed with the petition to prevent Donald Trump from making a state visit to the United Kingdom

And for the petition that read, "We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based on a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum."

Fully 4,150,260 signed their agreement to that one.

The government ignored all those petitions.

I'm not sure the Mail would have appreciated it if they hadn't.