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Sunday 8 September 2013

Mrs Gove’s Mail Confessional

There is something slightly troubling about the way in which so many who write for the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday seem compelled to confess all to their readers. This does not extend only to Liz Jones: we’ve also had Quentin Letts (let’s not) pretending to cry recently (but only in a good traditionally Christian way), and Amanda Bloody Platell explaining her eye condition in grim detail.
Don't blame me, she bought the trousers

Add to that the likes of Samantha Brick, and a picture emerges of a mawkish attempt to combine the attention-seeking, sympathy grabbing, and humanising in one, while of course providing an excuse for the papers sticking their bugle into the private lives of whoever it wants. You think I exaggerate? Then check out the promotion of the latest recruit to the Dacre punditry, Sarah Vine.

'Dieting made my hair fall out. Men were a no-go zone - I was too busy hiding my bald patch!': Introducing the honest, mischievous and irresistibly funny SARAH VINE” trumpets the headline, heralding an article which also tells readers, as if they did not already know, that Ms Vine is married to Michael “Oiky” Gove, who can’t drive, can’t cook, and wears strides with no volume control on them.

By now, the thought may have entered that Ms Vine did not need to tell her readers about suffering from male pattern baldness, and having had a hair weave, when she was scribbling away at the Murdoch press, her previous berth. Nor did she have to talk about her son’s medical condition, her daughter breaking her leg, or a family pet being killed after a car ran into it.

No, all of this comes as standard only at the Mail. For Ms Vine, there is a clearly calculated attempt to show how warm and human she is – to get the readers off on the right foot, and also to humanise her husband, while telling of “‘useless’ eco lightbulbs to people who don’t pick up their dog’s poo, to over-crowded, over-priced trains and ‘those stupid wooden sticks you get in Starbucks instead of spoons’”.

Oh, and she’s going to talk about “liberal fascists”. Who they? Er, “all those people who think they have an exclusive right to occupy the moral high ground on any given subject and expect everyone else to agree with them”, so folks like the bloke she lives with, then. Mail pundits are permitted a little blatant hypocrisy. But the culture of the confessional excludes one person.

Yes, while his staff have to tell all in the pages of his paper, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre keeps himself out of the public eye – except for suitably stage-managed occasions as decreed by Himself Personally Now – while taking to task editors who have a public profile. That is the ultimate hypocrisy of the Mail, a prime example of a “do as I say, not as I do” culture.

Still, the money’s  good, so the Goves don’t need to worry about 2015, then.

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