Although the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre would not even consider dirtying himself with an appearance on BBC Question Time, he is always willing to send one of his dubiously talented array of pundits to be his representative on Earth, and last Thursday this duty fell to the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who had the task of justifying the attacks on Ralph Miliband’s memory.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan
Quent had, it has to be conceded, a difficult gig, but that did not justify his resorting to forthright dishonesty to bolster his position. As the Beeb’s own report on the programme notes, “Mr Letts added that Ralph Miliband had been ‘furious that we won the Falklands War. He wanted us to lose the Falklands War. Is that the behaviour of a man who loves his country? I'm not sure it is.’”
And Letts is, as so often, talking weapons grade bullshit here. We know this because his own paper, the Daily Mail, says so: Ralph Miliband was opposed to the Falklands conflict, but then, so were many other Britons. That does not mean he “hated Britain”, merely that he did not favour one particular military adventure. And there is no evidence that he “wanted us to lose”.
He was angry about the way the conflict turned around the fortunes of Margaret Thatcher – until that point the most unpopular Prime Minister in modern history – and made it easier for her to impose her brand of conservatism on the country he loved, and to which he was grateful for taking him in and giving him the opportunity to make a new start away from the threat of Nazism.
All of which leaves Quentin Letts with some explaining to do: either he stands up his claim regarding Ralph Miliband, or the conclusion has to be reached that this was, as Roger Thornhill puts it at the beginning of North By Northwest, an “expedient exaggeration” (that means a lie, folks). So perhaps he could point everyone to a reliable source for his assertion.
Sadly for Quent, I somehow doubt that any response will be forthcoming, and this will go down as yet another example of Daily Mail pundits, stuck in the age before the Web and instant fact checking, believing that their sleight of hand and swiftness of mouth will enable them to pull a fast one, and then move on to the next whopper, before the audience has had chance to respond.
Anyhow, mustn’t grumble. It’s nice and warm anywhere near Quentin Letts right now, what with those blazing trousers, and all. No change there, then.