[Updates, two so far, at end of post]
Things ain’t what they used to be for those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet. Influential editors would in years gone by be looking contentedly at the end of year editions of their papers to see that they had been awarded the gong that was rightfully theirs: a knighthood – at least – was recognition of those years’ service, and admission to a suitably exclusive club.
After all, Alfred Harmsworth became not just a mere knight, but a Lord. So did Max Aitken, despite the less than pure aroma emanating from his business dealings. Even the Labour supporting lot got in on the act: Hugh Cudlipp became a Baron. More recently, Max “Hitler” Hastings got a knighthood. So did Simon Jenkins, and he, dammit, writes for the subversive and suspect Guardian.
Moreover, David English, who edited the Daily Mail from 1971 to 1992, also got a knighthood. Heck, even Larry Lamb, who edited the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, got a K at the personal recommendation of Margaret Thatcher. But times have changed, and one name in particular never appears in the New Year’s Honours List, which is the reason for one front page splash today.
Yes, the Daily Mail is in full thunderous rage mode this morning, with the banner headline “TAINTED NEW YEAR HONOURS”. There have been knighthoods for a former convict! And someone who works in the City!! And an OBE for someone who founded an online gambling firm!!! And there is the righteous sub-heading “David Cameron accused of being ‘out of touch’ with decent British people”.
And we know who those “decent British people” are: these are the poor souls who pay for the dubious privilege of taking the print version of the Daily Mail into their homes, the people who buy into the warped vision of reality peddled by the paper, its dubiously talented and overmonied array of mostly dinosaur pundits, and above all its legendarily foul mouthed editor.
Yes, today’s Daily Mail headline means only one thing: Paul Dacre has yet again failed to secure the knighthood that he believes is rightfully his, and as a result has ordered his obedient hacks to go after the honours system with a characteristically mean spirited hatchet job. No matter who you are, this article tells, you don’t diss Dacre, or the vindictive bully will be on your case.
No change there, then.
[UPDATE1 January 1: the attack has continued today with Mail readers being told that "Cameron faces fresh New Year honours row", and that "David Cameron faced an honours row today after it emerged at least four Conservative Party donors were given awards in the New Years [sic] list".
But, leaving aside whether the likes of Doug Ellis are worth a gong (I personally wouldn't pay for his services in washers, but that's by-the-by), the only row is coming out of the Mail, and is only because Paul Dacre didn't get a knighthood, and isn't going to get one any time soon.
Expect more of this petulant dross, and the more there is, the more likely that Dacre will retire, or be caused to retire, during the next 12 months]
[UPDATE2 January 2: the attack has now been joined by paranoid and authoritarian Glenda Melanie "not just Barking but halfway to Upminster" Phillips, indicating that there is to be no let-up from the Mail. Mel argues unsuccessfully that Gerald Ronson and John Profumo are not similar at all, despite both men redeeming themselves by years of charitable works following their falls from grace.
But Mel reserves her largest helping of bile for Peter Bazalgette, because he brought the Big Brother format to Channel 4 (although he didn't devise it, and is perhaps best known for shows such as Ready, Steady, Cook!, Changing Rooms and Ground Force). In a typically nasty swipe, Phillips likens Bazalgette's knighthood "to giving Harold Shipman an award for services to medicine".
Had anyone made a similarly snarky accusation against Mad Mel, she would of course have by now been crying foul, asserting that she had been libelled, and citing the comments as further evidence of societal breakdown at the hands of the "Liberal Intelligentsia". Hypocrisy - dontcha love it?]