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Saturday, October 12, 2013 

Let the shitstorm commence.

Paul Dacre, then, has broken cover.  It's interesting that like so many tabloid editors before him he won't actually be interviewed and instead leaves that to his underlings, only prepared to engage with critics on his own terms, but such is the way of those who demand accountability from everyone else and accept none themselves.

A few points:

1. Dacre's obsession with the BBC is a wonderful projection of how he seems to imagine the left is obsessed with his paper (although it must be said, some are).  It would be nice to get an audit on just how many hours of programming were devoted to discussing the Mail's attack on Ralph Miliband, but I'm willing to wager right now that it doesn't amount to hundreds.  Dacre and the Mail also wouldn't attract quite as much hostility if they didn't resort to hyperbole at the first opportunity; it was obvious by Thursday that some within Labour were trying to exploit the issue shamelessly, and the use of Alastair Campbell was questionable.  The point remains however that the BBC was entitled to cover the issue when it wasn't just Labour or the "Twitterati" but politicians on all sides who raised concerns.

2. Even now Dacre is repeating his and Geoffrey Levy's lies about Ralph Miliband.  He did not give "unqualified support" to Russian totalitarianism until the mid-50s, and besides there is nothing in Levy's article to back up that claim.  As Chris and a myriad others pointed out, being a Marxist does not make you a Stalinist or a Leninist, which is something that either the pair cannot get their heads round, or as you have to suspect, are being willfully misleading about.  If we want to get into how political beliefs have resulted in "evil", then we have to discuss both right and left, as well as how governments both Labour and Tory have supported authoritarians and dictators when it's suited them.  If hating Britain is not liking its institutions, as Dacre has repeatedly argued, then he clearly loathes modern Britain.  Now that is a paradox.

3. Dacre, again like numerous tabloid editors before him, justifies his paper's viewpoints on the basis that he's reflecting his readers' interests, which just so happen to also be his.  Regardless of the political party in power, in Dacre world Britain is constantly ruled over by the liberal left, and all Daily Mail readers object most strongly to this elite and their contempt for ordinary people.  In Dacre world the politicians don't fight like rats in a sack for the support of the middle classes and the centre ground, they only represent the "metropolitan classes" and sneer at decent working Britons.  Only the Mail stands up and protects these salt of the earth victims from having their interests ignored, and thank goodness it does.

4.  Gosh, Labour really is a ghastly party, isn't it?  No other political party has engaged in "corruption" like that of Damian McBride, except all of them (nor has any journalist ever facilitated the exchange of smears).  The Mail only focused on Ralph Miliband because his son wants to reintroduce price fixing, an unacceptable form of state intervention quite unlike Help to Buy, or the Stalinist seizing of land, quite unlike the compulsory purchase order legislation that has been on the statute book for decades.  They even covered up unnecessary and horrific deaths in NHS hospitals, except the Care Quality Commission disagrees entirely with that interpretation.

5. When everything else has failed, resort to a straw man argument.  Who suggested that the Ralph Miliband article necessitated statutory regulation?  Precisely no one, but that didn't stop Tory politicians from acting as though that's what the criticism implied, nor does it stop Dacre now.  Dacre would have a point in saying politicians can't be trusted with the freedom of the press after this week's assault on the Graun, if err, his paper hadn't led the charge after friendly briefings from those same politicians and indeed MI5 itself.  Amazingly, he attacks the BBC more than he does the Graun for "ignoring" the story, as though leading on it repeatedly over the last couple of days was trying to push it down the news agenda.  Apparently they should have focused more on Jack Straw's criticisms of the paper.  After all, who better than the foreign secretary who called the initial reports on the rendition programme "conspiracy theories" at the same time as he signed off on the rendition of two Libyan men back to Gaddafi's torture chambers to lecture the Guardian on the importance of such things remaining secret?

6. Which says everything about what this has really been about.  After accusing the Graun of treachery, he now of course wants to get the paper on side in rejecting the newly agreed press charter.  While I think the last couple of days has made clear both the press and government charter are untenable, the idea that you suddenly forget both sides have said you're helping terrorists and choose one over the other is hilarious.

7. Dacre says if you dish it out, you take it.  Except as is obvious, he doesn't take it, he throws even more shit back in return.  To quote Glenn, it's time to throw so much shit back at him that he can't pick up shit, he can't throw shit, he can't do shit.  On your marks everyone.

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