The moment of annual revelation is almost upon us: that time at the end of each year when the New Year’s Honours List is published. A few of the gongs have already been teased to a largely indifferent public, but one thing has been missing: the righteous and thundering denunciation of the whole thing by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his boot boys at the Daily Mail. It was not always like this.
Why the f*** shouldn't I get a knighthood, c***?!?
Indeed, the Vagina Monologue has serious past form in ordering attacks on the honours system. Six years ago, the Mail blasted “Tainted New Year Honours”, and the following year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours were dismissed as “Dishonours”. Two years ago, out came “Tainted New Year Honours” once again. Not so far this year, despite one well-known bête noire of the Mail being awarded a knighthood.
Former Lib Dem leader, and now former MP, Nick Clegg is in line for a K this weekend. And, although the Mail has told readers “Clegg gets a knighthood: Former Lib Dem leader to get a gong in the New Year's honours in recognition of his five years as deputy prime minister” and followed this with the sneering “But the knighthood is likely to be controversial given that Mr Clegg is an arch Remainer and that his party has been showered with honours in recent years”, the front page attack is missing.
The Mail has managed the obligatory digs “The Lib Dems have more than 100 representatives in the House of Lords despite their limited electoral success … Their peers will have considerable power over the course of the UK’s departure from the EU and Mr Clegg has called for a second referendum”, and the equally obligatory dig at his wife: “Miriam Gonzalez Durantez is unlikely to take up the title Lady Clegg after her husband is knighted … The Spanish lawyer does not use her married name and has never become a British citizen”. But the tone is almost restrained compared to some Clegg attacks.
All of which begs the question as to why Dacre, who detests Lib Dems with a passion and Clegg especially, has not gone in with both feet on the former MP, despite many from across the political spectrum voicing unhappiness at the award.
So why would Paul Dacre give one of his most despised hate figures a break? It’s an ideal target for unleashing the perfect storm of spite, all those hate objects coming together. But there is another reason for going easy on the honours system.
Paul Dacre saw his predecessor as Daily Mail editor, David English, get knighted. He saw his contemporaries, like Simon Jenkins and Max Hastings, get their Ks too. But the only Prime Minister to give him the time of day - Gordon Brown - didn’t do the dishing out of honours thing. And David Cameron did not meet with the Vagina Monologue’s approval. But Theresa May certainly does. And Dacre’s support for her has been absolute.
So the question has to be put: has the Empress Treeza given Dacre the knighthood he has craved for so many years? She’s given him the unique privilege among editors of one-on-one meetings, even hosting a dinner for him at 10 Downing Street. Yes, favouring the Mail’s editor sends the worst possible signal and legitimises some appallingly bad behaviour. But that hasn’t stopped some deeply unsavoury individuals getting gongs.
My Occam’s Razor says Dacre is getting a gong this time. Pass the sick bucket.