Once Britain led the world in scaremongers. Our Fleet Street of panic merchants ruled the waves of anxiety. Nobody could generate an atmosphere of quiet desperation like the Daily Mail. The News of the World could raise a torch bearing mob before Sunday closing time. And The Guardian bowed to no-one in its paranoia about Little Englanders.
But today, with newspaper circulations plummeting, the sun is setting on Britain’s dominance of the scare mongering market. We were surpassed by the Americans as early as the 1950s, which started manufacturing unseen enemies and bogeymen far more efficiently. Commies, Gooks and even Goddamn Limeys have all been exploited successfully, to the point where even many English people now have no confidence in an idea, a TV programme or even a word unless it has an American accent.
Today, the average American marketeer enjoys a far richer variety of nameless fears to exploit when selling a product, according to marketing consultant Barry Desmond II (junior) CEO of Scaremonger Marketing.
‘Britain is slipping down the league table of mood spoilers,’ he warned. ‘Even Daily Mail readers don’t take any notice of it any more. In a way, we’re victims of our own success. We’re all scare mongered out.’
Britain’s inability to induce fear and loathing could hit industry hard. Without paranoia, panic buys could become a thing of the past. Without moral outrage, councils complain they may not be able to introduce new stealth taxes, and take advantage of new terror laws. ‘Our powers are waning,’ lamented one council CEO. And he issued a warning that will chill council chiefs everywhere. ‘That bloke in Braveheart was right. If it goes on like this, we’ll be taking away people’s bin bags, but we’ll never, ever, take away their children.’