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Sunday 1 January 2012

Curly Burley’s Early Exit?

Some observers of the little local difficulty being faced by Tory MP for Cannock Chase Aidan Burley might wonder why it is the Mail On Sunday and Daily Mail that are going after him with such vigour, given the Dacre press’ perceived right of centre orientation. But this is to misunderstand the motivation of the Vagina Monologue, and the “conversation” he has with his readers.

Before going on to the latest news from the ski resort of Val Thorens – as the man said, there’s more – the characterisation of the Mail by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News is worth noting. “A lot of people misunderstand the Mail. They see it as a right-wing rag driven by an addiction to the Conservative Party and to the defence of the rich and powerful. That is not where the drive comes from at all” Davies observes.

Paul Dacre’s own view of his role is also relevant: “My job is to edit my newspaper, to have a relationship with my readers, to reflect my readers’ views and to defend their interest”. Mark well those last ten words. Consider also Davies’ summary of what the Mail is, and who it represents:

The Mail is ... designed to be sold to a particular market, of lower-middle-class men and women. Its addiction is to them; and if, in order to speak for their interests, the Mail must attack, it will. Black people, poor people, liberals and all kinds of lefties, scroungers, druggies, homosexuals: they will all be attacked. And if it is necessary to attack, too, the rich and the powerful and any political party, including the Conservatives, then so be it.”

Bearing all that in mind, consider today’s instalment in the saga of Aidan Burley and the stag party at Restaurant La Fondue in Val Thorens. There is little new news, save for the confirmation that the restaurant’s manager has complained that the party member wearing the SS uniform, having been told to remove his swastika armband on entering the premises, put it back on once inside.

That means an offence under French law was committed at the restaurant, and Burley, as the one who hired the uniform, is implicated. But equally significant is the confirmation that the group was “filmed by Mail On Sunday journalists who were also having dinner at the restaurant”. What a happy coincidence, that they just happened to be there, and tooled up ready to record.

This suggests that the Dacre press knew more about the stag party than they have so far let on, and coupled with the established agenda of finding adversely on bad behaviour by MPs – whatever their stripe – does not bode well for Aidan Burley, who has to ask himself one question: are there potentially more revelations to come? Because if there are, the Dacre press will ensure he does not feel lucky.

And there is little difference between resigning now, and resigning later.

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