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Friday 23 May 2014

Times Scrapes Playground Abuse Barrel

Looking at the results from yesterday’s local elections – the ones for the European Parliament will not be declared until Sunday, in line with other EU member states – we can see that the two losers are the Tories and Lib Dems, both shipping more than a hundred seats. UKIP has (as at 1145 hours) gained 91 seats, but Labour has added another 125. So who has won, and who has lost?
That's what I say to youse bladdy Labour drongoes!

Ah well. If you are one of those right-leaning clever people who talk loudly in restaurants, mere numbers are a distraction, as one look at the Murdoch Times, formerly a paper of record but now reduced to shilling for the Tories, shows. “Knives out for Miliband as Labour jitters grow” declares the headline, supporting this with the received wisdom that Mil The Younger is “weird”.

As a clear copy of that front page obviates the need to throw good money at the Murdoch paywall – see how I got round that, Rupe? – we see that “One leading Labour figure told The Times ‘The narrative around Ed Miliband, because it’s the truth, is that he looks weird, sounds weird, is weird’”. This “leading Labour figure”, as with every source quoted, is not identified.
There are two very good reasons for this: were all the quotes to be paired with names, it would show just how “leading” its “Labour figure” was not, and readers would be able to see just how much of the copy was pure invention to suit the headline that had already been written (this being a modus operandi long ago perfected by the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor).

We know that the decision had already been made because the Times headline was crafted for the paper’s early edition, and so had not waited for any election results to be declared. Readers hear from “a member of Mr Miliband’s team”: this is broad enough to mean any Labour member or supporter. “The Labour leader was repeatedly pressed to do more” asserts the article. More what? By whom?

And all the time, this supposedly upmarket paper resorts to the most puerile kind of name-calling: “Doubts were also growing over Mr Miliband’s image after a series of interviews and disastrous photographs”. That’s the result of employing clueless Tories like Tim Montgomerie, now awarded the role of Timescomment editor”. Don’t bother with the intellectual niceties, just call him weird.

There are dissenting voices within Labour – as there are among the Tories, deservedly so after shipping not just Hammersmith and Fulham, but also Croydon – but there were when Tone was in charge, just as not all Tories agreed with Mrs T. The Times front page lead would have looked bad if the Sun had run it. For a previously serious paper, it is inexcusable.

Just imagine what twelve months of that will do to the readership.

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