The Fourth Estate’s lame attempt to characterise the departure from the political scene of Mil The Elder as some kind of mortal blow to his brother having failed, and seen to have failed, today has brought a change of tack. In have come “insiders”, on occasion accompanied by “friends”. All are anonymous. But their story, by the most fortunate of coincidences, fits the press’ line.
Interestingly, the Murdoch Sun has enlisted the services of only one “close friend” to prop up the narrative pushed by political editor Tom Newton Dunn. Neither does the article say whose “close friend” this is – so it could be one of Newton Dunn’s pals in the Sun newsroom. That’s how the tabloids operate when they can’t get a real “close friend” to speak to them.
The Sun reinforces its supposed revelation with another turgid diatribe from Trevor Kavanagh, wheeling out the approved line, which is that Labour has lurched further to the left, even though the elder Miliband was on the back benches. Readers are treated to the spectre of union leaders, talk of “Red Ed”, and attempts to show Labour infighting which is not actually happening.
But the serious business of source invention has been taking place over at Dacre Towers, where Richard Pendlebury tells Mail readers to forget what they’ve heard already, especially from the hated BBC, because he knows better. This is propped up by two “Westminster sources”, which will be his fellow Mail hacks, unless he’s splashed out and roped in someone from another paper.
They are backed up by “several Westminster insiders”, for which read more hacks and maybe the odd Tory MP who has been stood a decent meal in return. And then we come to the piece de resistance, “an associate of David’s”. So this is a genuine inside source, is it? You jest. It means someone who has in the past associated with the elder Miliband. So that’ll be another hack, then.
The rest is in the same vein: another “source”, and another “insider”, who claims without any evidence that Mil The Elder had his new job fixed for him by the Clintons. I kid you not: “Everyone thinks the Clintons sorted his new job for him, and you would think David will be heavily involved in Hillary’s presidential election campaign in 2016”. They sup some strong stuff at the Mail.
That’s not to say the Mail and Sun couldn’t stand up their stories in court: they could. All those “friends”, “sources” and “insiders” will exist – but they’re just fellow hacks and minor politicians whose connection to the Milibands will turn out to be at best tangential and at worst non-existent. The lesson to learn from this kind of story is that it has been put together to fit the headline, with sources selected to suit.
As such, it’s utterly worthless, but convinces today’s readers. No change there, then.