When Private Eye first picked up on the idea of disharmony between the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his Mail On Sunday counterpart Geordie Greig, who was apparently given the job as he was the Rothermeres’ choice, I was sceptical, given that Dacre remained Editor-in-Chief at Associated Newspapers. But the evidence is beginning to pile up.
Who's losing his f***ing authority, c***?!?
That all may not be in harmony at Northcliffe House has been underscored by the Mail On Sunday very deliberately undermining the Daily Mail’s latest attempt to put the boot in on the Labour Party and press regulation campaigners. Friday’s paper carried the story “Hit film makes us look like villains, say nuns: Judi Dench movie Philomena 'twisted the truth'”
And one killer line is all it takes: “The film is based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by journalist and former New Labour spin doctor Martin Sixsmith, played on screen by Steve Coogan”. Immediately, Sixsmith is painted as a baddie because he is linked to New Labour, and that means he’s pals with Tone, Pa Broon and Big Al. Mail readers know all about them!
Then Sixsmith has allowed himself to be portrayed by Steve Coogan, who has committed the unforgiveable sin of supporting Hacked Off, a deeply sinister organisation prone to serving take-away pizza. And Coogan is therefore on the Dacre hit list, whatever his achievements. So the earlier article portrays the nuns as the wronged party, despite their involvement in child trafficking.
Moreover, the Friday piece does not have any comment from Sixsmith or Philomena. In this it is even more blatantly one-sided. But today’s Mail On Sunday allows Martin Sixsmith – who also committed the crime of working for the hated BBC – free rein, and also lets the subject of the film have her say. It is as if Geordie Greig had set out to deliberately give an alternative view.
Add to this the suspicion that the Mail On Sunday reporter who so unfortunately gate-crashed the memorial event for Ed Miliband’s late uncle recently was doing so in order to show Ralph Miliband in a more sympathetic light, and, as Private Eye has been suggesting, a pattern begins to emerge of the MoS challenging its daily stablemate seemingly at will.
That in turn suggests that Dacre’s authority within Associated Newspapers is not what it was. It also lends weight to the argument, which I’ve advanced previously, that the Vagina Monologue would have been best advised calling it a day on his 65th birthday, forgetting about appearing in any future honours list, and thereby not endangering his health any further.
Why I show concern for Paul Dacre’s wellbeing I don’t know. But someone has to.