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Monday 21 November 2011

The Clueless Telegraph

The Maily Telegraph, it has to be conceded, does not produce the level of Europhobic drivel that comes out of the Daily Mail. Instead, it produces a more upmarket kind of drivel, one that attempts intellectual rigour while not quite managing to stand up the argument. Events over the weekend have served only to highlight this tendency among the paper’s punditry.

Poor Benedict “famous last words” Brogan is as unconvincing as ever: he lauds Young Dave’s supposed concession on the Working Time Directive in exchange for changes to the Lisbon Treaty as a good deal. But the Tories had already committed themselves to a referendum if there was any treaty change. Ben hasn’t improved much on his mistaken pronouncement on Andy Coulson.

But it’s good to see the Telegraph returning to its default value of cheering on the Tories whether their performance is good, bad or indifferent. And reinforcing this unthinking praise for anything right of centre is our old friend Dan, Dan the Oratory Man, who has worked himself up into an advanced state of excitement over the result of the General Election in Spain.

Spain rejects socialism” trumpets Dan, unaware that there is not much that is socialist about the outgoing PSOE. Just having the S-word in its name – like the PS in Portugal – doesn’t alter the fact of the matter, which is that both are Social Democratic parties. The winning PP is hardly “Conservative” either, but roughly equivalent to the Christian Democrats in Germany.

And Dan omits to tell his gallery of cheerleaders that the PP won an equally decisive majority in 2000, only to have it wiped out four years later after their party leader – that would be Mariano Rajoy, the bloke who won yesterday – ineptly tried to call the Madrid bombings as an ETA attack, which they very obviously weren’t, merely for political gain.

Nor does Dan explain how Rajoy and his pals will “get people back to work by reforming Spain’s sclerotic labour laws”. There are, as I pointed out the other week, 4.36 million unemployed in Spain – 21% of the workforce – and merely making it easier to hire and fire isn’t in itself going to create one more job, especially when Rajoy has also pledged to cut the country’s debt.

Having seen the clumsy way that Rajoy has behaved in the past, I have little confidence in him as a Prime Minister, rather less than I have in Pedro Passos Coelho in Portugal. What Hannan cannot, or will not, take on board is that merely because someone is labelled “Conservative” does not make them fit for purpose. But it fits the Telegraph agenda.

No change there, then.

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