The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph was defiant last week: after its lame attack on George Soros for backing a pro-EU group was lambasted for its whiff of anti-Semitism, an all hands meeting was convened at which senior staff told that the splash was not anti-Semitic, honestly. Nick Timothy, the man who lost Theresa May her majority, dismissed claims of dog-whistling, demanding withdrawals and apologies.
And for a time, it seemed the Tel’s decision to tough it out had worked. The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail weighed in in support, even doubling down on the Soros dog-whistle so beloved of many in Hungary and Poland by adding a lame kick at Goldman Sachs. The Murdoch Sun also went in with both feet. But then, at the weekend, the wheels began to come off the Soros bashing wagon.
First came the seizure of the moment by the Mail on Sunday’s editor Geordie Greig, always ready to tweak Dacre’s tail and demonstrate his independence - plus the ability to show the world that the Vagina Monologue is slowly but surely losing his iron grip on the Mail titles - by giving Soros a platform for his views. Here, he gets straight to the point.
“The formative experience of my life was the occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany in 1944. Being Jewish, I would probably have perished had my father not arranged false identity papers and hiding places for his family and many other Jews. I learned at the age of 13 just how important it is what kind of political regime prevails … Nazi occupation was followed by communist rule, which I found so stifling that I escaped Hungary and found refuge in England, where refugees were then treated much better than nowadays. I spent nine years in this country and became a confirmed Anglophile”.
And then he deftly inserts the knife into the Press Establishment: “While former Chancellor Lord Lamont might criticise my involvement as a foreigner, it might help him to know I also have long had businesses in Britain - in much the same way as has Rupert Murdoch, an American citizen and well-known Brexiteer”. Ouch!
Now, having caused discomfort to Paul Dacre and all who sail in him, Soros has decided to show just how far he is prepared to “butt out” of the UK political scene - and the answer is, not at all. As the Guardian has told, Soros “has moved to defy his critics over his £400,000 donation to the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain by pledging an additional £100,000 to support efforts to fight Brexit”. And it got worse for the smearers.
“The billionaire investor’s Open Society Foundation (OSF) is set to match a crowdfunding campaign set up in the wake of attacks on Soros, which has already raised more than £50,000 since his support was revealed on Wednesday last week”. And yet worse, as Soros has told the paper much of the Press Establishment loves to hate “I am happy to take the fight to those who have tried to use a smear campaign, not arguments, to prop up their failing case”. All those smears, and all they yielded was an own goal.
The Tel’s credibility declined further, the internal Mail spat between Dacre and Greig worsened, only to worsen the stench of anti-Semitism and make the campaign against Brexit stronger. It was hardly worth their while turning up, was it?