Virgin Trains has announced it is to stop selling the Daily Mail on its West Coast trains. Virgin explained the decision by claiming the paper was not compatible with the Virgin brand and beliefs and that considerable concern had been raised by employees about the Daily Mail’s editorial stance on certain issues such as LGBT rights, immigration and employment.
The decision by Virgin Trains has drawn a considerable response. The Daily Mail unsurprisingly hit back calling the decision “disgraceful.” The decision was also criticised by Boris Johnson who labelled the decision “absurd” and Jeremy Corbyn who said “there would be no bans on a publicly owned railway.” A rare moment when the Foreign Secretary and leader of the opposition were in agreement. Not everyone has been critical of Virgin though. Jane Fae for instance in The Guardian supported the decision of Virgin claiming the paper does not match Virgin’s brand identity.
Virgin’s defence of this decision has been centred on the editorial line and position of the Daily Mail. This is crucial, as this makes the decision a moral and ethical one rather than a business call. If this had been explained as a business decision than the backlash would not have been as severe.
To clarify, this is not a defence of the Daily Mail. I do not read the Daily Mail and rarely agree with their editorial lines. I find the language they use toxic and that as an outlet they do very little to enhance constructive debate on most occasion. I am not a fan of the newspaper and do not see myself ever becoming a Daily Mail reader. However, that is not the crux of the issue in this instance. The real principles in play are that of censorship and freedom of press.
I believe fundamentally people in this country should be free to buy the newspaper they desire. Additionally, I believe that if you do passionately disagree with a editorial line of a newspaper line you choose to engage with the argument rather than ban the newspaper. Living in a free society with an open press means you come across opinions you disagree with. This is to be expected and applauded. Believe me, the alternative is far worse. Let people decide for themselves what they want to read.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – Gizmodo UK