Britain’s funniest letters page is no longer in Viz, but the Sunday Express
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According to STEVE ANGLESEY, you should give the Sunday Express' letters page a read. It will challenge you like nothing before.
A recent letter to Viz asked an important question. 'Why is it that Labour leader Keir Starmer spells his first name like he does, and not 'Kier'? I was always taught it's 'i before e, except after c.' If he brazenly flouts this rule, what others does he think he can get away with?'
It is missives like these that place the venerable comic neck-and-neck with Private Eye for the title of the funniest letters page in British publishing. But there is a third contender. Step forward the Sunday Express.
At first glance, the Sunday Express letters page looks like any other moany letters page in any other moany right-wing tabloid. The headlines placed above individual letters paint the usual depressing picture of Britain as a dystopian failed state which crushes ordinary folk underfoot while the elite swill champers from their top hats (so quite close to the truth, then).
Some highlights from the last few weeks include, 'Stop being so selfish', 'System has failed badly', 'Morons threaten us all', 'People just don't care, 'Sacrifice all for nothing' and 'Elite out of touch.'
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No wonder we are 'Out of tune with reality' when 'Rules have been flouted' to the eternal 'Shame of mindless yobs'! Meanwhile 'Empty promises abound' but 'We're taken for mugs' by 'Cowing to the mob' and, of course, 'New waves of migrants.' No wonder 'UK's a dangerous place.'
Yet dig through this dung and you find buried treasure. This week one letter writer was fuming about HS2, which he called 'a pipe dream that's going to cost at least £200 billion' and a white elephant that 'lacks connectivity to all our major conurbations'. A point of view, you might think, but one that hardly prepared the reader for what came next.
'A far better project would be to adapt it as a monorail system so that it stops at major junctions and serves commuters east and west, all the way up to Scotland.' Yes, what could be more cost-efficient or beautiful than building an elevated rail network directly on top of the other one?
A week earlier, another writer had solved the migrant boat problem: 'Simply utilise the stranded cruise ships anchored off Weymouth, move them nearer Dover, interview those caught on board, their claims fast-tracked, those unsuccessful returned to Calais, no appeals, end of story. Job done.'
Yes, the letters page of the Sunday Express will challenge you like never before. 'The left-wing media dredge up anyone who will knock the good job that Boris Johnson is doing,' wrote someone the other week, but I was too busy pondering another reader's question – 'Why should we have to import fish when our waters are full of them?' – to answer.
For sports fans, you might find a Conservative-voting Liverpool fan slagging off Jurgen Klopp, who has just won Liverpool their first league title in 30 years or an F1 enthusiast explaining how Lewis Hamilton wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt has set the course of anti-racism back years.
And of course there are those who send in stuff like 'the biggest racists are in the Labour party' and 'Let us not forget that political correctness was concocted by two Marxists as a weapon using the values of democracy to destroy democracy itself. Let us also remember the penchant for the world socialist cult to cover their activities by masquerading as science institutes, pressure groups, charity funds etc'.
The very best thing about the Sunday Express letters page though is that every week it provides the results of the question readers answered on a premium rate phone line the week before. Have a look at these recent questions and results and see if you can spot a pattern emerging:
'Were we right to turn our backs on the EU?' Yes 98%, No 2%.
'Is the Establishment against Brexit?' Yes 99%, No 1%.
'Should we stop negotiating with the EU and just walk away?' Yes 99%, No 1%.
'Should we leave EU with no deal?' Yes 98%, No 2%.
'Should Farage have led EU talks?' Yes 95%, No 5%.
'Is no-deal Brexit best for Britain?' Yes 98%, No 2%.
'Should we abandon any deal with the EU?' Yes 99%, No 1%.
'Do we need to be rid of the EU?' Yes 99%, No 1%.
The big numbers are sadly no surprise. But how wonderful that week after week, despite the Brexit propaganda poured out by both Express newspapers, some of their readers still choose to spend 50p 'plus your telephone company's access charge' telling the Express they disagree.
Long live the 5%, the 2% and especially the 1%!
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