Stephen Dedalus (@StFilansDream), drew my attention to this example of how establishment journalists adapt to new political circumstances by adapting their language to conform with powerful narratives.
At the moment UK government figures are attempting to deflect criticism of their failures onto the EU’s supposed obstructive behaviour.
Lord Frost’s piece in the Telegraph is one of the clearest examples of this blame-shifting and demonising of the EU:
Lord Frost says the EU should “shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals”. Last week the Prime Minister infuriated Brussels when he unilaterally extended the grace period for supermarkets’ goods and parcels from the end of this month to October, prompting threats of legal action from Brussels. The grace periods mean procedures and checks are not yet fully applied.
The move sparked a fresh row with the EU, which is jointly responsible with the UK for the Northern Ireland Protocol governing trade and new border checks in the province.But writing for The Telegraph, the Cabinet Office minister blames the escalating tensions on the EU’s threat to impose a hard border on the island of Ireland in January. Lord Frost, who personally negotiated the Brexit trade deal and joined Mr Johnson’s Cabinet last month, says the EU’s behaviour “has significantly undermined cross-community confidence in the Protocol”.
He writes: “As the Government of the whole of our country we have to deal with that situation – one that remains fragile. That is why we have had to take some temporary operational steps to minimise disruption in Northern Ireland. They are lawful and are consistent with a progressive and good faith implementation of the Protocol. “They are about protecting the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland, making sure they can receive parcels and buy the usual groceries from the supermarket.”
Journalists dependent on state funding are particularly exposed to the subliminal influence of this kind of elite narrative.
As Stephen spotted, they have started to refer the EU as ‘the bloc’ in a way which older readers will remember the Warsaw Pact nations were referred to as the ‘Eastern Bloc‘. The word seems more prevalent in recent months:
Italy is the first EU country to use the bloc’s new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.
Under the EU vaccine scheme, which was established in June last year, the bloc has negotiated the purchase of vaccines on behalf of member states.
As a quick comparison, I searched for ‘BBC bloc’ in the whole year 2015 and found several referring to the band Bloc Party, one referring to the Warsaw Pact but none referring the EU