It was a strategy doomed from the moment it was enacted: the decision by the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre to project all the aspirations of Himself and his paper on to incoming Prime Minister Theresa May. The thought immediately entered that the Vagina Monologue had an embarrassing schoolboy crush on the PM - and those kinds of things always end in tears. So it has proved for the Mail and its editor.
Maybe not so cast iron
One area of Government spending that has always irked Dacre, if only because it means taking money from Daily Mail Readers are handing it to those ghastly brown and black people, is the Foreign Aid budget. Not for the Mail the intricacies of discussing British soft power, or the idea of a medium size nation punching above its weight internationally through such measures. Those benefiting were not the Mail’s kinds of people.
No, my f***ing hacks aren't sniggering behind my back, c***
So it was no surprise to see the Mail tell readers yesterday that the hated Foreign Aid target - 0.7% of GDP - was for the chop. “Mrs May is expected to use the manifesto to ditch a number of high profile policies from the Cameron era. Yesterday she left the door open to watering down - or even scrapping - Mr Cameron’s flagship vow to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid”. This was not universally popular.
As the Guardian has reported, “Bill Gates warned Theresa May that should the Conservatives go ahead and abandon the UK’s overseas aid spending pledge it would reduce the country’s influence in the world and mean more lives lost in Africa … the Microsoft founder said that the leadership role taken by the UK could determine whether ambitious efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa were launched”. Eradicate malaria?
Gates, it seems, was serious: “Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on and the UK has always in terms of research capacity and aid been a leader. In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that”.
And, in seriously bad news for the Vagina Monologue, it appears that the faith he had placed in Theresa May to do his exact bidding has been misplaced: ITV’s Robert Peston has Tweeted from the campaign trail to tell “.@theresa_may commits to keeping 0.7% of GDP overseas aid funding minimum. First firm manifesto commitment, I think. Tory right won't like [that]”. Ms May had disobeyed Dacre’s command! And it got worse.
The Guardian’s politics co-editor Anushka Asthana then Tweeted “Election: Hammond hints manifesto will drop 2015 pledge not to raise income tax and national insurance”. Tories taxing and spending? It will take all Dacre’s iron discipline not to spontaneously combust! He had projected the whole of his agenda onto Ms May, and now she is taking very little notice of him. Heads down and no sniggering for Mail hacks this evening.
Worse, the hated Guardian and Bill Gates - another of that mythical “liberal élite” - have won the day. How will Dacre live with his crush dumping him? How many Vagina Monologues will he dish out in the next 24 hours? It always ends in tears.