The penny is starting, ever so slowly, to drop over at Northcliffe House: the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery have joined up the dots and figured out that they may just have been had. The timeline from former Tory aide Patrick Rock being arrested on February 13, to their all-out assault on three senior Labour figures six days later, is not an accident.
Course I haven't been f***ing conned, c***
It is always possible that the Vagina Monologue was a willing participant in this game, which also seems to have included the Tories being told to keep schtum so as not to attract too much attention while their opponents were being turned over, but from the tone of today’s coverage, this is unlikely. Whoever was the conduit, it worked a treat: nobody thought to ask if the Tories were hiding something.
But now a problem enters: Dacre cannot be seen to have been duped by those politicians he so dislikes. So someone else must take the blame. And here we get the concept of killing two birds with one stone: cleansing the Mail’s reputation, such as it is, while deciding that the real culprit was someone who had nothing to do with the Rock story, or the Harman and Dromey smear.
Why? Perhaps a big boy did it and ran away
In other words, the Daily Mail has to tell a blatant whopper. This, of course, is not a problem for the Dacre doggies – making untrue assertions is in their DNA. Let’s start with the front page splash, which howls “Why Did No 10 Cover Up Aide’s Child Porn Arrest?” to which the answer is, because The Usual Suspects weren’t looking, as they were hooked on the prospect of all that Labour bashing.
“Downing Street was last night facing allegations of a cover-up over the child porn arrest of one of David Cameron’s oldest friends ... No 10 faced also awkward questions about why Mr Rock was confronted with the child pornography allegations and allowed to quietly resign hours before the police were called in” spluttered James Chapman. There’s a law against keeping quiet?
Now comes the deflection and blame gaming: Daily Mail Comment points the finger. “Did they really believe the electorate had no right to know ... How many other arrests of patent public interest are among the hundreds these secret police are concealing? Truly, the Leveson Inquiry has cast a chilling shroud over transparency in public life”. And there’s a pundit on hand to back that up.
“Lord Leveson, Hacked Off, the politicians and the police chiefs may not like it, but it’s called a Free Press and it is the foundation of any properly democratic, open society” tells tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn. To which I call bullshit: the only ones at fault are Dacre and his hacks for not keeping their eyes on the ball and letting themselves become part of the Tories’ smear campaign.
At least they didn’t blame Leveson for the flooding. Small mercies, and all that.