The mean-spirited attitude of papers like the Mail towards Slebs in general, and those who have opinions in particular, is not a new or surprising thing, but the idea that a US Citizen might up sticks and become resident in this country so they could take up a seat in the House of Lords certainly is. Now, the Lords story, along with the righteous and sneering attitude to the well-known, have come together.
“'She's a woman with an agenda': Angelina Jolie is 'looking to move to England in order to become a peer in the House of Lords’” tells today’s Mail On Sunday. Really? Author Ian Halperin claims it’s true: “'She’s a woman with an agenda, she wants to leave the United States, she wants to work in the UK, she wants to get in the House of Lords, she has a non-profit foundation there. She has her sights set on England’”.
Would the Northcliffe House inmates care to pony up some evidence for this hokum? “Angelina is already well-connected to members of the House of Lords, classing former Foreign Secretary William Hague, and foreign policy expert Baroness Arminka Helic, as good friends … Lady Helic, 48, was a Bosnian refugee who arrived in the UK with nothing in 1992 and rose to prominence 14 years later when she was hired by Hague … She introduced the former Conservative Party leader to Angelina in 2012, having watched her 2011 movie In The Land Of Blood And Honey”. And that’s the lot.
Oh, and there is also “The actress has also been appointed as a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and will teach a postgraduate program at the university's Centre on Women, Peace and Security with William Hague alter this year”. All of which adds up to precisely no evidence at all. And I have bad news for the MoS.
This story is not new. Indeed, it was going the rounds last November, which is when it was picked up by the increasingly desperate Telegraph. Then, the story was “Angelina Jolie 'set to become a peer' ... How the Lara Croft star could soon be heading to the House of Lords … Now tongues are wagging in Westminster that Miss Jolie is being lined up herself set on a seat in the House of Lords”. Took Halperin a while to wake up to that, didn’t it?
Then, the claim was that “The only criterion for new peers is that they must be ‘resident in UK for tax purposes and accept the requirement to remain so’. Miss Jolie and her equally famous husband Brad Pitt are on the way to clear that hurdle – the pair are understood to be eyeing up a new permanent home in London’s Marylebone”.
Well, maybe not: Pitt and Ms Jolie have fallen out and divorce lawyers are all over their case. So along comes a journalist who makes a living out of outlandish claims about Slebs, dusts down the Telegraph story from last year, updates it to airbrush out Brad Pitt, and flogs it to anyone who didn’t see him coming. Just remember this quote from the MoS: “MailOnline has contacted a representative for Angelina and is awaiting comment”.
In other words, they’ve taken Halperin on trust. It was a ridiculous story last November, and it’s an equally ridiculous story today. But papers to sell, and all that.