As the referendum campaign continues to generate rather more heat than light, some punters might think that they can achieve some kind of “cut through” by paying attention to the pundits who, by their place in the press, might be expected to have some idea what is actually going on. But that thought would have been misplaced when the pundit concerned is the serially clueless Murdoch disciple Tim Montgomerie.
The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade recently asked “what is it about ‘Tory activist’ (now ex-Tory activist) Montgomerie that merits such attention?” before concluding “Thatcher love aside, you have to admire the man for rising from nowhere to become a media ‘star.’ Then again, you have to wonder at journalists for giving him so much unwarranted attention”. The lack of substance behind Monty’s outpourings was never more obvious this week.
This was made clear when he showed just how little he knows about the EU: “Cameron says he wants power to stay in UK. Yeah, right. We can't control our borders, trade policies, farming or fisheries, deportations…”. That assumes we have no seat at the table. So it’s wrong. And how about this for rank idiocy: “Happily have a decade of Labour misrule if we get our democracy back (and mainstream Labour MPs would limit Corbyn)”.
He’s so hell-bent against the EU that he wants his own favoured party not to be in power. And then there is the paranoia: “There's no truth to rumours that PM was seen throwing spanners into electoral registration machine last night to get these extra 48 hours”. It’s a CONSPIRACY! So is Corbyn’s upcoming Sky News appearance: “I love @SkyNews but why not the BBC or ITV?” It’s part of the same CONSPIRACY!
But he does have that central message, and it’s to frighten readers about foreigners (while shouting “Look over there! Project Fear!”). “Me for @TheTimes: In a #euref with few facts, our open borders could be the decisive fact”. Tried to cross one recently? No? Thought not. Then it’s back to paranoia, this time over the BBC: “Thank goodness we have the press to balance up the BBC. A little”. The BBC is part of the CONSPIRACY!
So how does he handle the change of heart from respected Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston? Simples. Trowel on the abuse: “Shallow was the word I was thinking of but yes superficial will do”. Plus he remembers Keynes: “People change their minds when the facts change. The facts haven't changed”. That would depend on the facts at Dr Wollaston’s disposal, and isn’t it convenient for a Thatcherite to suddenly find Keynes’ words so appealing?
Just how low Monty is prepared to sink was demonstrated by his choice of sources when attacking Dr Wollaston. “The new @heatstreet website has collected @sarahwollaston's anti-Remain Tweets - underlining her amazing U-turn”. There was no U-Turn. And when Louise Mensch wrongly accused Dr Wollaston of deleting Tweets and lying, Monty just egged her on: “Will @heatstreet record this Louise?”
That would be as in “not bothering to check the facts first”. Tim Montgomerie was long ago promoted way beyond his pay grade. He’s nothing more than a jumped-up fraud, a cheap shill for Rupert Murdoch, without whose patronage he would be nowhere. His Twitter meanderings merely underscore that fact. No surprise there, then.