The Fourth Estate is having difficulty concealing its desire to see occasional London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson secure a second term, so much so that impartiality was long ago consigned to the nearest skip and replaced by an occasional fawning adoration of the Tory candidate, which has extended even to his deeply unpleasant spinmeister Lynton Crosby.
Out of the traps after the launch of the Labour challenge, as I noted yesterday, was a rabble of pundits and bloggers whose bias would have caused second thoughts even at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Added to their number have been Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, who claimed Ken Livingstone had “embarrassed” his party leader.
So, despite not being over-keen on Young Dave right now, Murdoch is casting the vote of his media empire decisively for Bozza. And so is the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, as a grovelling puff piece by hack Francesca Preece – “Boris is right, we can’t afford to have Ken back in London” – demonstrates (yes, we know Ken is in London right now, but hey, hold those pesky details).
Ms Preece bases her argument against “vile Ken” on a “damaging dossier” from “the Back Boris team”. So the basis for her piece is Tory propaganda. From this she has learned that Ken “won’t talk numbers”, which is interesting, considering he has indeed been talking numbers on tube and bus fares, housing costs, help with energy bills, and looking to reinstate Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
“Whatever people may think of bumbling Boris, few can ignore his record” she gushes, and here she is dead right. Well into nine figures’ worth of dosh sprayed up the wall on vanity bikes (“at no cost to the taxpayer”), vanity buses, and a vanity cable car. But council tax bills will be cut by a few pence a month. Whoopee-do! And this isn’t the only lame puff piece, as a look at the Standard shows.
Here, City Hall “Editor” Pippa Crerar has gone to town with an equally fawning interview featuring the odious Lynton Crosby. She tells how Croz has “worked on election campaigns around the globe”, which, in plain English, means mud-slinging on behalf of Dilbert character lookalike John Howard in Australia over four campaigns (he lost the fifth).
And readers get the whole detail of how many activists Crosby has working away in his service. The message is as simple as it is biased: Bozza is best because he has lots and lots of Very Wonderful People campaigning for him, and Croz is a really smashing person (well, in the retelling, maybe). The Standard has, as in 2008, abandoned all pretence of impartiality.
As have Dacre and Murdoch’s empires, and for Londoners, that’s not good enough.