Former Tory MP Mark Reckless, who has now joined Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP, has discovered that pollsters have been phoning round his constituents in Rochester and Strood, asking some most unusually worded questions. He wondered whether this was a Tory Party dirty tricks operation, but it turned out to be the Mail On Sunday behind it.
Tom Pride picked up on this – you can see his post HERE – but the difference between the Mail titles and Tory propaganda, as we saw from the MoS running “Web Trolls To Get Two Years In Jail” yesterday, which was not news, having been known about since March, is becoming indistinguishable. Chris Grayling organised an information leak, the MoS splashed on it.
The ever-closer relationship between the Tories and those in the Northcliffe House bunker – by no coincidence, a situation that was precipitated by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre lunching at 10 Downing Street recently – was further confirmed this morning by the assault from the Daily Mail on Labour over the NHS, accompanied by a typically thundering and condemnatory editorial.
And the timeline is a dead giveaway: last Wednesday, the Welsh Tories made great play of Labour’s supposed failures over cancer treatment in the Principality. That there was no equivalent to England’s cancer drugs fund was underscored. The Daily Mail line in today’s attack on Labour – apart from its personal kick at Mil The Younger – was along exactly those lines (it’s been countered HERE).
The Tories’ HQ then jumped on the Mail’s attack as if it were a genuine news story, and to no surprise at all were ready and waiting to capitalise upon it. They reported how self-promoting MP Priti Patel was telling all who would listen how shocked she was at this earth-shattering news – that the party had already fed to the Daily Mail last week. It would be funny if it were not so deliberate.
Allied to this is the behaviour of pollster Survation, which is prepared to offer voters the alternatives “Mark Reckless is a hero” versus “Mark Reckless is a traitor”, and bring up the (one) time when he was too pissed to vote (one might lose count if the number of times Mail hacks and pundits were rendered incapable due to their having become Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart were to be tallied up).
This might not be push polling. But it is becoming, as John Arlott might have put it, very adjacent. And it’s not just UKIP who are on the receiving end. Watch out for more Tory talking points and agenda items recycled by the Mail titles in the near future – and then picked up on by the party’s press operation. Dacre is having to work hard for that gong – perhaps it’s a peerage, not just a K.
It’s journalism, Jim, but not as we know it.