Something is missing in today’s edition of the Daily Mail. The thundering headlines, the ranting and righteous editorial, the slanted copy, all are present and correct. But the regular Wednesday column of Sarah “Vain” Vine, aka Mrs “Oiky” Gove, is absent. Ms Vine did not, it seems, make it to the editorial meeting to which she often takes her bichon frise dog (another yappy member of the Gove household).
The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has tried, with varying degrees of success, to find a pundit to fill the void left when long-time Mail stalwart Lynda Lee-Potter died more than a decade ago. Ms Vine is the latest throw of the dice, and her tenure has not gone well. Her self-centred musings and apparent late night opening of the wine bottle have been meat and drink to the likes of Private Eye magazine.
She was rebuked and ridiculed by both Alan Johnson and Michael Portillo on BBC This Week over her mean-spirited attack on Justine Thornton, who had committed the heinous sin of being married to Mil The Younger, someone whom Dacre had decided was not the Daily Mail’s kind of party leader. Ms Vine’s catty article about the Miliband kitchen was in contrast to her own domestic arrangements, but not in the way she might have wanted.
She and “Oiky” had benefited from rather too much in taxpayer funds on that front, and Gove ended up repaying thousands - but, of course, not apologising. But what has stopped her Mail career stone dead is the combination of her “accidentally” leaked email which foreshadowed the knifing of London’s formerly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and its reference to Dacre’s political influence.
Paul Dacre does not approve of having his name, along with the political weight it carries, bandied about in that way by one of his columnists. While some sources have claimed that the Vine column is merely in abeyance during her husband’s leadership bid, others have suggested that Dacre will act swiftly to dispose of her services, now that her Lady Macbeth act has made her damaged goods in the eyes of those all-important Mail readers.
She can hardly pretend to be an ordinary housewife after, as the Guardian has told, in her last column, “the Mail’s self-professed ‘Wednesday witch’ used the first person plural ‘we’ to discuss leading the country in the wake of the vote and described her husband’s response to learning that the leave campaign had won the referendum”.
The Guardian report continues “Her decision not to write this week is understood to relate to the exceptional circumstances in which her husband finds himself … A Mail spokesman said: ‘We are looking forward to her next brilliant column in the Mail’”. After the Murdoch press exposed Andrea Leadsom’s CV creativity, Gove may be detained a little longer.
In the meantime, don’t bet against Dacre awarding that six-figure salary to someone more likely to keep schtum about the Vagina Monologue’s political influence. The reign of Sarah Vine at the Mail was for a time, but not for all time.