The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, for so long the provider of the aggression that Nick Davies called “the fuel in the Daily Mail’s engine” looked perhaps more than his 62 years yesterday as he addressed the Leveson enquiry. Holding himself upright by grasping the lectern, his breathing laboured, the Vagina Monologue was clearly past his prime. But his paper still delivers its regular ration of hate.
Who the f*** are you calling old?
After pausing to heap bile on the Blair administration, for allowing Richard Desmond to take over Express Newspapers, which in fact suited Dacre fine as Dirty Des has starved the Express and Daily Star titles of investment and turned them into cheap and nasty joke titles – sending readers to the Mail – he took aim once again at his demons in the media world.
In doing so, particularly in his attack on the Guardian and Independent (“papers that lose eye watering amounts of money and which are subsidised either by trusts or Russian billionaires”), Dacre once again points up the origin of the Mail’s editorial line. Littlejohn and Mad Mel sneer in unison at “Guardianistas” because that is what the editor has ordered them to do.
Likewise the broadcast media: “The BBC relies for its existence on a Government imposed poll tax” he rants, unaware that anyone can vote, whether they have a TV or not. He reveals his hatred of Big Al as an example of “how politicians can bully the BBC” while managing to forget his own titles’ daily – not merely occasional – assault on the Corporation, most recently inventing the BC/AD knocking copy.
All the while, Dacre shows a strange inferiority complex, complaining about “Britain’s liberal class” who “hate all the popular press”, and talks of “The Hampstead liberal with his gilded life-style”, further revealing where so much of the Mail’s editorial direction originates. It is as if he has to invent a series of demons against which his papers can rail.
What Dacre ignored completely – perhaps because he genuinely doesn’t realise it happens, or more likely doesn’t care – is the way the Mail tramples over not just slebs and sports stars, but ordinary citizens. Lottery winners, social workers, Police officers, nurses, councillors, teachers, students, travellers, and anyone not speaking English routinely see their names and reputations trashed in pursuit of sales.
It’s this abiding memory of the Mail that means it is difficult to feel sympathy for Paul Dacre as he labours through his statement to Leveson. He and his band of obedient, compliant and cowering hacks have deliberately set out to enrich themselves and Associated Newspapers by bringing misery to so many people in pursuit of their agenda. There will be few tears as Paul Dacre shuffles out the door.