The last stages of the Scottish independence referendum campaign have been getting more than a little tasty, with Mil The Younger being subjected to more than a little pushing and shoving in an Edinburgh shopping centre yesterday. The thought that some, particularly on the Yes side, are in perhaps too high spirits, has driven many of today’s front pages. One in particular stands out.
That paper is the Daily Mail, which has thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at the story today, starting with “The Seriously Nasty Party: With one day to go, damning evidence of the bullying intimidation of voters by Scots nationalists ... Pro-union voters have endured stone-throwing and been called traitors ... Many are now said to be too scared to show their support of a No vote”.
The main attack wave has been supported by a hail of pundits, led by the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who claimed to have been in that shopping centre: “Organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup put out a photograph yesterday purporting to show the ‘world’s biggest scrum’. Pah! It looked a tame affair compared to what we had in an Edinburgh shopping centre early teatime”.
Quent’s outriders in this particular pundit plethora included Tom Bradby, intoning with great seriousness “This bullying and intimidation is worse than anything I saw in Ulster”, while Chris Deerin told “As a Scot, I despair of the Nats' nasty streak”. Added to this was “Row breaks out over allegations that Salmond 'tried to gag' leading Scots academic who questioned independence”.
As Sir Sean [not present for tax reasons] nearly said, I think we got the point. The Mail is throwing everything at an attempt to preserve the Union: one need only look at Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, and its cringingly bad headline “To our Scottish cousins we say sorry for England's inept political class and beg you to stay in our great British family”.
All of which is routine and predictable; the Mail is a deeply conservative newspaper, and nothing could be more conservative than retaining a Union first formalised in 1707. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, this rush to proclaim the virtue of a No vote is not a coincidence: Paul Dacre was seen visiting 10 Downing Street at lunchtime yesterday.
But the Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor would not be happy with mere recognition: there was almost certainly some kind of quid pro quo involved. The Mail’s petulant attacks on the honours system should inform anyone wanting to know what that might be. So has Cameron promised Dacre a gong? Will the New Year’s honours list include the newly-created Baron Dacre of F***ing C***ery?
With that kind of recognition, Dacre might even contemplate retirement.