Some diehard Tory supporters have of late despaired of the Maily Telegraph: the mingling of news and comment as the paper has come to resemble a broadsheet Daily Mail was bad enough, without the substantial payment for a CD of MPs’ expenses in a plain envelope, coupled with the David Laws revelations and what looked very much like the entrapment of Vince Cable.
But when a properly Tory piece of comment was needed, cometh the hour, cometh the hack: up has popped Graeme Archer (who he?) to stiffen Tory sinews and give good cheer as he joins in the celebratory kicking of the Lib Dems, who are clearly getting above their station. Archer tells a grateful readership that the followers of Corporal Clegg are neither Liberal, nor Democratic.
Given the track record of the Lib Dems over the years – in that they have been Liberal and Democratic, and open and transparent with it – Archer has to pull off a number of logic leaps and sleights of hand to keep the reader from engaging olfactory gland to detect the odour of steaming bullpucky. This is combined with sneering dismissal – starting with the headline photo.
This shows Brent Central MP Sarah Teather at the podium. She’s not very tall: it’s a deliberate choice. Those Lib Dems – they’re only a little party! The level of the smear does not improve: do we really need this party? It’s not as good as when Lloyd George was in charge, is it? And what about the health bill? Archer says that’s Liberal, and so opposing it is not. Wrong. Hack opinion does not equal fact.
Human rights? This can be dismissed as “beyond parody”, otherwise called inconvenient. The 50p tax rate is “economically illiterate”, which means it, too, is not an easy one for Archer. But elected Police chiefs are: because that’s something involving elections, opposing it means you’re not democratic. But that’s drivel – it means you’re opposed to politicising the Police.
In fact, it is Archer who exhibits the economic illiteracy best: “the right-wing view of tax ... is truly liberal” he pontificates. Rubbish. The right-wing view of tax is greedy and inconsiderate – go to the back of the class. And “Lib Dems view tax as an instrument of social engineering” is non sequitur, smear, frightener and sheer irrelevance in one.
Otherwise, we get demonisation and name calling: Shirley Williams is brought out to frighten anyone who attended a grammar school, and Evan Harris is, well, Evan Harris. And that’s really, really bad. So bad that you shouldn’t ask. Therefore the Lib Dems are really only another kind of Labour Party. Perhaps.
And, as with so many of the Fourth Estate’s dinosaurs, the real marvel is that Graeme Archer, another Phil Space graduate, was paid in money for this rubbish.