A few short months ago not many outside of the football world had heard of Marcus Rashford. Yet the 23-year-old Manchester United forward succeeded in doing something that the government’s collective conscience had failed to do. He ensured that kids in the UK who were in real need would continue to get free school meals during their holidays. After beginning a petition on the UK Parliament website which attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures, the government did a U-turn. And the country loved him for it.
Yet deep on the bowels of the Daily Mail, a tick or a cross or a dash appeared next to his name. How dare this young upstart take on the establishment and win. A working-class black footballer embarrassing the government into submission – my goodness Aunt Ethel! Something had to be done to give this young upstart a public comeuppance.
There must have been one almighty search to get some dirt on him but to no avail. So, what happened? The Daily Mail instead resorted to doing one of the few things that it does really well – it launched a snide personal attack on the young soccer star.
The headline ran like this: “What a result! Campaigning football star Marcus Rashford has bought five luxury homes worth more than £2million.” A harmless enough headline you might think but there are two things desperately wrong with it. First it makes a connection between what Rashford earns and what he campaigns about – by implication connecting the two. Next by a little deft (or accidental) syntax they imply that the houses that he has bought recently are each worth more than £2million each when in fact the total spent on all five was around that figure.
As for the use of the adjective “luxury” – I’m not sure what kind of squalor your average Daily Fail journalist lives in, but they have a keen sense of hyperbole for company. The places that Rashford has bought cannot, on the whole, be described as much more than comfortable. The word luxury is a stretch but then elasticating and distorting the truth is something of a well-practiced skill in some quarters.
What is even more extraordinary is that the Mail is well-known for giving its readers financial advice, including about the buying and selling of property as an investment for both self and family. It seems a tad hypocritical, to say the least, to spitefully have a go at someone who is only doing just that. However, the tick or cross or dash next to the name meant that Rashford had to be put in his place. Perhaps he just didn’t fit with the idea some at the Mail have when they think of property owners.
Knowing how much Marcus Rashford spends may be “in the public interest” (although frankly I fail to see how or even why) but the insinuations that went with this feature article were unnecessary to say the very least. This young man is a national treasure at the age of 23. Somehow, again, the Daily Mail has failed to grasp the zeitgeist. I know, a leopard doesn’t change its spots however old it gets. This is the same paper after all that, in 1934, brought us the headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” with an accompanying article that celebrated the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and its leader. You would have thought it might have learned something in the intervening years. Nah.
Rashford’s response was gentlemanly to say the least. He replied: “Ok, so let’s address this. I’m 23. I came from little. I need to protect not just my future but my family’s too. To do that I made a decision at the beg of 2020 to start investing more in property. Please don’t run stories like this alongside refs to ‘campaigning’.”
So, back off, Daily Mail. This man has championed disadvantaged children in the middle of a pandemic. The Pope could saint him and I wouldn’t object, frankly. If you think that good deeds somehow need punishment, then you are living on a different planet to the rest of the population.
At least this headline, desperate in its attempt to dim Rashford’s light, has given the Twitterati the opportunity to have a good old British snipe right back at them. Let’s end by taking a look at just a few of them.