Someone must leak the letter Paul Dacre wrote the Guardian demanding a column….
“Out in the real world, it was a pretty serious week for news. The US was on the brink of budget default, a British court heard how for two years social workers failed to detect the mummified body of a four-year-old starved to death by his mother, and it was claimed that the then Labour health secretary had covered up unnecessary deaths in a NHS hospital six months before the election.”
A splendid opening from Paul Dacre, reminiscent of certain vast Russian novels:
“Eh bien, mon prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now merely estates, the private estates of the Buonaparte family. Non, I warn you, if you don’t say this means war, if you still defend all these vile acts, all these atrocities by an Antichrist (for I really do believe he is the Antichrist), then I no longer know you, you are no longer mon ami, you are no longer, as you put it, my devoted slave. But, anyway, how do you do, how are you? I see I am frightening you, do come and sit down and tell me what’s going on.”
Of course Paul Dacre forgot to mention that this claim about cover-ups was made by Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative health secretary, on Twitter: and that on being contacted by lawyers pointing out that this was libellous, Jeremy Hunt had to write to the Labour health secretary acknowledging that the claim wasn’t true.
That’s a perfect example of a Daily Mail political story in minature. Correct enough not to be legally actionable, but actually completely misleading.
In April 1989, the Sun published the infamous “The Truth” front-page slander of the Hillsborough tragedy and are still boycotted in Liverpool. It ought to have been a tremendous lesson to the tabloid industry that you can only go so far in peddling hate before you oversell it.
On Saturday 28th September, the Daily Mail published an article about Ralph Miliband. There were two problems with the article: the first, that it wasn’t true, was no different from any other smears the Daily Mail has cooked up in the past.
The second, that it had been published purely to traduce a dead man because he was the father of the current Labour party leader Ed Miliband, was so clear that even the usual supporters of Daily Mail politics found themselves choking on it: of the entire Conservative cabinet, only Michael Gove – who used to work for Rupert Murdoch at the Times and whose wife writes for Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail – defended the Mail: every other Conservative minister from David Cameron downward admitted that if that had been his father, subjected to Daily Mail attack after his death, they’d… well… they wouldn’t have been happy about it. Contemptuously, the Mail – and all the Mail employees, from Paul Dacre downward – have refused to apologise, claiming they were entirely justified in their smears of Ralph Miliband.
The author of Short Cuts Blog asks “What should Nadine Dorries do next?” and appears to be blithely unaware that although Nadine Dorries is suspended from the Conservative Party, she is still an MP, and will remain one until the next General Election, unless she decides to make David Cameron happy by resigning and triggering another by-election:
There’s a question mark over whether or not the programme-makers could have allowed her to promulgate a political agenda, under the terms of the Communications Act 2003. Perhaps she should have looked that up before she said yes, but she was too busy perverting the course of reproductive health (and whatnot).
Another miscalculation, I think, is that she assumed her likability would come across on screen. The truth is, in Portcullis House she is approachable, modest and subtly conspiratorial; but that kind of stuff is all relative. Somebody who seems nice in a room full of MPs does not necessarily shine in a box full of earwigs.
Nadine Dorries claims she is prochoice (no, really she does) she just wants women who need abortions after 20 weeks to have to travel to another country to get them, just as they do in Ireland for all abortions. So does Alex Neil, Health Secretary for Scotland, Alex Salmond, and David Cameron: an important company of men to decide what women can be allowed to do.
Are you being sued for doing something you believe is right?
One of the basic rules of deciding whether it’s worth taking the case to court instead of settling out of court with apologies: is the Christian Institute offering to pay your legal fees? If so, then you know two things in advance: you will lose, and you will become a kind of public figurehead for whatever campaign the Christian Institute are running. Unwinnable cases are a form of advertising.
One of the basic rules of running an inn, a hotel, a guesthouse, or even a B&B, is that if the lodgings are available, the host can’t turn people away based on their own prejudices. That’s tolerance: active, practical, and kind.
In response to your latest column in the New Statesman.
Being “a lefty” has a vague definition. To Daily Mail readers, it may mean anyone leftwing of Kenneth Clarke: to Mitt Romney’s followers, David Cameron is an unacceptable lefty. But let’s suppose it means, more or less, that you consider “social equality” to be more important than individual profit. I put “social equality” inside inverted commas because I appreciate that this is itself a concept that people have a different understanding of: it’s not so long since LGBT people were not included in any lefty mainstream understanding of “social equality”, and as we see with the current support for restricting abortion rights, for Julian Assange’s “right” to dodge being questioned on a sexual assault charge, for the silence about Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuse for so many decades, it’s still uncertain whether many men think to include women in their ideal of “social equality”.