Inside Melanie Phillips, I’ve concluded, is a reasonable and rational journalist trying to be heard through the torrent of hysterical, reactionary and authoritarian rage that is all most folks can remember from reading her output. Today, rational Mel almost cornered her attack on Young Dave, but was overcome first by authoritarian Mel and then swept away by frankly batshit Mel.
True, there are moments that don’t make sense, such as asserting that Cameron “stammered and stuttered” in a newspaper interview, which makes one wonder if there is also a Mel with extra-sensory powers. But she holds everything together when laying out the problem the PM has with women voters, the Angela Eagle and Nadine Dorries incidents, and the polling feedback.
But then, authoritarian Mel pops out: after considering the issues that she believes concern women voters, Phillips concludes “That surely means they are disillusioned with the Coalition because it is not conservative enough”. Close behind is batshit Mel, snarling that the Tories “treated them as if they were all Guardian readers, with the preoccupations of the metropolitan chattering class”.
And then she loses it completely, barking “this has meant embracing a Left-wing agenda ... of the metropolitan intelligentsia, who are hermetically sealed from ordinary people”. This includes “climate change ... community-based sentences rather than prison, and the race, sex and gender rights agenda”. There is apparently “fury over green taxes”, and not just in the Daily Mail office.
The reason that rational Mel can’t keep those other personas in check, though, is clear: Phillips is getting older, as well as increasingly bitter, paranoid, and intolerant. So she scolds Cameron and Osborne as “like two smutty schoolboys” and “callow youths who aren’t cutting the mustard”. The thought is not allowed to enter that politicians are getting younger – even Tory ones.
When Melanie Phillips says “Prime Minister! Calm down, dear!” she ought to be addressing the command to herself, although she won’t, and so rational Mel will continue to struggle to be heard against authoritarian Mel, who wants to lock up tens of thousands of bad people right now, and batshit Mel, who is so out there that it isn’t clear what she wants, other than a nice quiet place to lie down.
No change there, then.