The Tories have had to relaunch their General Election campaign. They called the election, but have wobbled badly since their manifesto launch. Another opinion poll out overnight shows their lead down to six points, and the momentum with Labour. So there was only one thing for the Tory-backing press to do today, and that was to press the panic button, dispensing with any pretence of objectivity and substituting blatant propaganda.
Why the f*** should my paper bother with facts, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
And the vehicle for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker came along yesterday evening in the shape of the Channel 4 News and Sky News debate, which featured - but separately - both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. Each was quizzed by a studio audience first, that part being moderated by Faisal Islam, before a one-on-one reprise of The Inquisition Of Pax Jeremiah. It did not go well for the Tories.
Although Ms May managed to straight bat Paxo, so did Jezza, and the Labour leader did noticeably better with the studio audience, some of whom ended up laughing at our less than wonderful Prime Minister. An online poll taken afterwards - yes, it was self-selecting, but the sample size of over 49,000 is telling - showed Corbyn taking it by 89% to 11%.
That was too much for the Mail: out came the accepted headline “Jeremy Corbyn is PUMMELLED over IRA links, Bin Laden and the Falklands on live TV before Theresa May pledges there WILL be a social care cap for pensioners amid 'Dementia tax' row”. It was only by looking further that readers saw “Theresa May squirmed as she was heckled by voters over funding for schools and the NHS tonight”.
There was even less equivocation from the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who had clearly had his orders: “As he came under fire, the good ship Corbyn started taking on water: QUENTIN LETTS sees Labour's film-flam fail during debate”. There was more. “Both contestants had wobbles … But by the end of the show there was only really one Prime Minister to be had from this contest, and her name was not Jeremy”.And Quent’s propaganda was not the only game in town: there was also the spectre of Brexit to dangle before readers. “Theresa May to go on the Brexit warpath today in bid to see off Labour: PM to declare Jeremy Corbyn is too weak to negotiate leaving the EU” was the headline, with predictable deployment of the insult “weak”.
Could they manage the equivalent of that wafer-thin mint? They certainly could: “Labour's secret plans for £4,000 'garden tax': Land and levy plot could treble the average council bill”. Er, WHAT? And the source for this dubious claim? “The Foreign Secretary declared the charge, which he branded the 'garden tax', would force families to sell off their backyards and send food prices soaring if farmers are forced to pay”.
The Foreign Secretary. Bozza. A career liar. The £350 million a week buffoon. Only at the end of the article do we get the Labour Party response: “This is desperate nonsense from the Tories. Labour has no such plans”. Yes, that’s the level it’s reached - just make it up and hope it sticks. From the paper Alastair Campbell called “The Dacre lie machine”.
Why do this? Simples. For the Mail this is a binary choice election - Section 40 and Leveson Part 2 with Labour, and look the other way from the Tories. That is all.