Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some kind of madness: How the Tory press lost the plot.

The way the right wing hacks do the dirty work of the Tory party for them is quite blatant.

It was a call from out of the blue. Right-wing newspapers are used to getting calls from the Conservative Party, but this one was less cordial than usual.

"We are a little concerned about Nick Clegg," the senior Tory told the editor. "And we were wondering what you plan to do about it."

The Tories realised that every time Brown or Cameron attacked Clegg that their popularity dipped during the recent debates, so George Osborne called the press in and asked them to do the attacking on the Tories behalf.

And they did not fail. But it bordered on the ridiculous.

On the internet there is a law, Godwin's Law, which states that the longer a debate goes on the more certain it is that Nazis will be mentioned. The Mail, in print and online, didn't hang around. The front-page headline "Clegg in Nazi slur on Britain" was a masterpiece of slurring: a moronic interpretation of a suddenly discovered 2002 article, bolstered by some frothing quotations from Nicholas Soames, "grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill".

Meanwhile, in the Telegraph, deputy editor, Ben Brogan, noting that a poll had rated Clegg the most popular leader since Sir Winston, warned readers: "Vote Churchill, get Stalin." And Cristina Odone brought a faith perspective to the business of rectifying voters. Her target was the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, whom she dubbed, for his views on abortion and euthanasia, "Dr Death": the Mr Hyde to Clegg's Dr Jekyll. Harris lends "something sinister" to the Lib Dem line-up, she said.

The Mail's Tom Utley also went to extremes to bash Clegg. "If this had been any ordinary general election, like the other seven I've covered, I would certainly not have travelled from home in London to Cornwall and back (16 hours in one day, door-to-door) for the privilege of spending half an hour on a cricket pitch listening to the leader of the Lib Dems."

And what did he learn in that half hour, for which he made such noble sacrifice? Nick Clegg, it seems, may be "the most potent threat to our survival as a self-governing state".

The right wing are livid with Clegg for daring to threaten Cameron's coronation.

By their own admission they usually simply ignore the Liberal Democrats and they are furious that people liked what Clegg had to say. They are now deciding that we are a nation of stupid children who really don't know what is good for us.

The Daily Mail:

"It was a matter of some concern," the paper announced, "that 10 per cent of the electorate could change their views so dramatically in the space of an hour and a half, and that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats could emerge as the apparent winners of that debate with the public learning so little of their policies and values.

"Over the past week" – this is the really memorable bit – "this newspaper has tried to rectify that failing, and we continue today with our examination of what the Liberals really stand for."

As Brian Cathcart says in an article that's well worth reading: "What presumption. What pomposity."

My favourite line on this subject came from another article entirely:
There is no evidence that the stories came from the Tories, however, the attacks could hardly have been better timed – or presented – had they been produced in Central Office.
Yeah, there's no evidence that the Tories were involved, except for the fact that George's sticky little fingerprints are all over this.

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