Just when one might have thought that the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre would observe some boundaries of decency even when laying into their favoured hate figures, along comes a story to prove that literally nothing is off limits – including putting the boot into the memory of those who have been dead for a quarter of a century.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Dishonesty
Dacre’s pet dinosaur Quentin Letts (let’s not) has been instructed to smear the Blair family: Tone is despised by Dacre, and his wife Cherie maybe more, so this is a case of so far, so predictable. But the smear does not concern the Blairs at all, except by distant association, because the target of this hatchet job is the late Pat Phoenix, who for more than 20 years featured in pioneer soap Coronation Street.
She died in 1986 after losing her battle with lung cancer: Ms Phoenix had a 60-a-day habit. On her death bed she married long term partner Tony Booth, Cherie’s father, who is himself in poor health after suffering a stroke last year. Letts heads his mean-spirited kicking “Pat Phoenix’s lesson in champagne socialism after ‘coffee morning’ for local church”.
Put directly, Letts suggests that Pat Phoenix and a number of unidentified “actor friends” “swigged champagne” at a coffee morning she had arranged for her local church, following which it is then inferred that she did not hand over all the takings to the church and its roof appeal fund. The source for this “information”, which by coincidence meets the Mail’s agenda, is claimed to be the vicar’s widow.
Except it isn’t, well, not all of it: the quotes attributed to her do not make up even half of the piece. But it’s enough for Letts to execute his smear, knowing that the target of the allegation is long dead, and her former husband in poor health. He then inserts the photo of Cherie Blair as if to dare the Blairs to sue him and his editor, although of course the dead don’t sue.
“What sort of example did the late actress Pat Phoenix set her one-time step-daughter Cherie Blair?” asks Letts. Well, Quent, whatever it was is as nothing compared to the example you set other journalists. This is a typically nasty kicking of the dead, by a sneering and snivelling hack who cravenly asks “how high?” when the Vagina Monologue orders him to jump. So no change there, then.