STEVE Bannon, the oracle of right-wing populism, thinks the Daily Telegraph isn’t right-wing enough!

Let that sink in for a moment. Hard as it is to imagine this paper becoming any more right-wing, but the guru of grievance and all-round alt-right agitator wants to buy the paper and make it “the global voice of Trumpian populism”.

What a thought. Bannon sees both dollar signs and a chance to stick it to the Oxbridge set who’ve dominated the press in the UK for many a long year. In his mission to wrestle control from this upper-class “elite”, he’s merely shifting the control to another chosen few, handpicked by him for their lack of discretion or decency when it comes to hate speech. Exclusive rather than inclusive, a dog whistle masquerading as the voice of the people.

Bannon knows full well that “Trumpian populism” is moving past its sell-by date, with “The Donald” on a sticky wicket now the impeachment process is growing legs, arms and tentacles. With the damage already done in America and the counter revolution in full swing, Bannon needs to make hay while the sun shines on an opportunity to advance prejudice in Britain. That sour spot is the divisions of Brexit and the resultant ugly shift in public discourse.

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As well as being Trump’s former strategist and the man behind the president’s successful rise to the top of the greasiest of greasy poles, Bannon is one of the founders of the far-right Breitbart news website, which pushes an anti-Muslim narrative amongst other extreme topics. No prizes for guessing how he’d fashion The Telegraph if he got his grubby paws on it and no prizes for guessing how much advantage he would take of a possible Tory success at the up-and-coming General Election, with Boris Johnson, his UK pet project, returning triumphant to Number 10.

So much is at stake here. Even with Trump out of the picture if he fails to make it through this time next year, imagine a Britain with Bannon pulling the strings at The Telegraph and Rupert Murdoch continuing his dominance of other outlets in the mainstream media. Not a pretty picture for anyone but truly terrifying for religious and ethnic minorities.

Regardless of Trump, thanks to the antics of Farage and Johnson and their career agenda on Brexit, the rot is already well set in British society. Those with an eye to the main chance, and a severe lack of moral fibre, have spotted an opportunity to spew out all their bigoted bile into the mainstream press, safe in the knowledge that no-one is coming for them – at least yet.

If Bannon takes the UK press plunge, I’m sure he’s already lined up a list of pseudo journalists and commentators who fit his biased bill. He won’t have to look very far for those who are quite at ease with turning a blind eye when it comes to racism, bigotry and hate speech, and justify their decision to do it either by their shoulder-shrugging silence or brushing it off as all a big joke.

The National:

Close to the top of the list will be one Rod Liddle (above, left). I doubt he’d even need to make an application if his column from last week’s Spectator is anything to go by, a veritable CV of Islamophobia and downright angry prejudice. It’s not the first despicable diatribe from the festering fingers of Liddle; and in this mad, mad world it seems likely it won’t even be his last. In this latest article, he suggested that elections should be held at a time when Muslims are unable to vote. Cue condemnation from the Muslim Council of Britain and Tell Mama UK, as well as rightful anger across the political divide at this anti-democratic and sinister view point.

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Even Conservative Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, waded in to make it clear that Liddle’s comments were in no way acceptable, and former deputy prime minister, David Lidington, called the article “disgusting” and “a serious lapse of judgement”. Not a peep from the Prime Minister though. Hardly surprising given those childish and insulting “bank robber” and “letterbox” comments in his column for The Telegraph, for which he has still refused to apologise. Less leadership from the top, more scraping the barrel from the bottom.

Liddle went on to mock Labour MP Rosie Duffield for her experience of domestic abuse, which she spoke about most bravely in the House of Commons a short time ago. Someone needs to sort Liddle out.

This someone should be the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, or indeed Andrew Neil, its chairman. But, as often characterises those at the apex of their career, those in positions of responsibility and power have uttered not a squeak, not a whisper, not a moment of soul-searching or responsibility. Hey, his rants sell papers, so it’s alright in their book.

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Just when you think the UK mainstream media can’t sink any further, Bannon’s interest in The Telegraph is another step further into the cesspit. Because, in the real world, all this appealing to the base with nasty narrow-minded journalism has a worrying knock-on effect for Muslim people in their everyday life.

Tell Mama UK noted a sharp rise in attacks on Muslim women after Johnson’s Islamophobic splutterings for The Telegraph, while the Home Office consistently record short-term rises in hate crimes after trigger events such as the EU referendum or the Christchurch massacre.

It’s a case of cause and effect. Liddle may cynically dismiss the reaction to his columns as signs of a collective loss of our funny bones, but if Muslims are intimidated away from the ballot box come December 12, there will be nothing trivial about this democratic outrage and violation of civil rights. And there will be nothing funny about the resultant fury.