The news that a hack from the Mail On Sunday gatecrashed a memorial service for an uncle of Mil The Younger – just to pump some of those present for information to feed into a story about Miliband’s late father – has not merely damaged the Rothermere press. It has further damaged the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, and badly wounded the main contender to succeed him.
Who f***ing says I'm f***ed, c***?!?
And, on top of all that, it has validated in spades Miliband’s decision to draw that line in the sand and stand and fight (to the extent that even the Tory Party must wonder what they have to do to improve their news coverage). But the first reaction to the news that the MoS intruded into Prof Harry Keen’s memorial event at Guy’s Hospital yesterday will, for many, be “what were they thinking”?
In any event, the hack got caught, so the MoS had little alternative but to own up. Editor Geordie Greig had to react to limit the damage – if he could. He has now apologised, thereby increasing the pressure on Dacre to do likewise. The Fourth Viscount Rothermere is said to be incensed at the development, and with good reason, because Greig was apparently his chosen candidate to replace Dacre.
Dacre, in the meantime, finds himself, for once, the victim of circumstance: he had nothing to do with the gatecrashing, but it will also damage him, as he is editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers. And, in any case, it was Dacre who started the business of going after Ralph Miliband’s memory: Geoffrey “Lickspittle” Levy did not write the initial attack piece without Dacre’s prompting.
Greig claims in mitigation that he had no knowledge that the intrusion was to take place, but this makes matters worse: he admits to staff indiscipline, and that his hacks are so singularly reckless to think that such actions are within the bounds of acceptable behaviour. And Miliband has thus far declined to take his foot off the Rothermere windpipe: he also wants an expression of regret from the Mail.
Meanwhile, the inevitable collateral damage will include all those who grovellingly supported Dacre’s continued obsession with Ralph Miliband, especially those shameless politicians such as Jeremy Hunt (the former culture secretary), and of course Michael “Oiky” Gove, whose wife Sarah Vine has recently taken the Dacre shilling. There are others.
The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have been so ready to spin events in Dacre’s favour, out of fear and cluelessness, that they loused up. The loathsome Toby Young, and the deeply unsavoury Rod Liddle, have sprayed their joint credibility up the wall at the Spectator for all to see. They, too, are damaged by the grenade that Miliband has just set off.
But worst damaged are Rothermere, Dacre and Greig. Maybe all fatally so.