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Friday 15 April 2011

Mail Rail Fact Fail

Just in case its readers were in any doubt, the Daily Mail has put them straight: it has declared open season on Labour leader Ed Miliband. The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, who also dislikes both Young Dave and Corporal Clegg, has clearly sent out orders to smear Mil The Younger at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, if today’s Miliband bashing effort is anything to go by, the Dacre hackery is also having difficulty with the accuracy of its copy, in addition to somehow missing the photo that would have backed up the article’s main assertion: that Ed’s aides removed the “first class” markings from the seats.

The piece, under the by-line of “Gerri Peev” (seriously?), starts by asserting that Mil The Younger “has repeatedly tried to launch a class war with the Tories”. He has? Repeatedly? Whatever. This has been included to justify the storyline – at the Mail, if there isn’t a fact available, you extemporise, display a little creativity, or as it’s called elsewhere, make it up.

The suspicion of yet more creativity hangs over the assertion that “Ed Miliband’s aides were caught removing the First Class seat furnishings”. The seat in which the Labour leader was sitting was missing its “first class” marking, but that doesn’t mean his aides removed it. It’s strange that the Mail has photos of everything else from the trip, but once more, this smear fits the editorial line.

It enables the Mail to exclaim in triumph that “his class-war tactics backfired when [he] was filmed in the first class compartment of a Virgin train”. Except that Virgin trains don’t have compartments. Trains with compartments haven’t been built new for the UK in decades.

The sloppy journalism continues, though, as the writer tells that “The revelation about his first class travel is all the more embarrassing for Mr Miliband, however, after Mr Cameron used budget airline EasyJet to take his wife Samantha to Granada in Spain”. That would be difficult, as EasyJet do not fly to Granada. Young Dave and SamCam flew with Ryanair.

Mail journalism also doesn’t trouble itself with such things as ticket prices: we are told that “A first class ticket to Coventry can cost £107.50 one way”, which means that Dacre’s hacks didn’t even bother finding out whether Miliband paid full whack, or his party got a book ahead deal (for instance, first class deals at just 37 notes a seat are available on several trains mid morning on Monday next).

The Daily Mail is the best resourced newspaper in the UK. So it would not be difficult for the investigation to be done to stand up this story and ensure its accuracy. That this hasn’t been done merely confirms that it’s a smear done to order.

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