There had already been some softening up, courtesy of the Murdoch Sun, which in yesterday’s editorial sneered at “shape-shifting Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who before he would agree to a Tier 3 lockdown demanded money for workers - then turned his nose up at £100million and said rising infections were exaggerated anyway”. The article to which they link does not even mention the mythical £100 million. They were lying.
As the Tories pulled the plug on talks yesterday, by miraculous coincidence the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog also went into Burnham bashing overdrive, snarking “Embarassing [sic] gaffe from Andy Burnham today as the Manchester mayor, with a salary which puts him near the top percentile of income earners, called himself ‘middle income’. Man of the people”. Then came the giveaway.
“His broader point was wrong too - people on minimum wage would not be on two-thirds of their wages. With the Universal Credit top-up, those on low incomes are set to receive some 80% of their normal income”. The idea that The Great Guido - replacement teaboy Tom Harwood was the author - knows any more than Sweet Jack Shit about Universal credit is fanciful: almost certainly, someone had briefed them.
In the meantime, the “Government Sources” had been briefing The Usual Suspects, with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg just shovelling it on, as Peter Oborne put it. “Govt source says ‘Other local leaders in GM were more reasonable and constructive but Burnham was too proud to make a deal.’” She did, however, add that her source in Greater Manchester asserted that there was unanimity. So her source was lying.
Added to that was an intervention from another willing conduit, Jason Groves of the Mail, who claimed “Govt sources making explosive claim that Andy Burnham told the PM today it was 'important to him that he got more' than Merseyside and Lancashire. PM said to have told him that was not 'fair' on other regions already in Tier Three and concluded deal not possible”. And which Polecat told him that?
One observer believed it was someone working in the Polecat’s service: “Lee Cain wouldn't parse AB's words to mislead would he? I thought I heard AB explain in his live statement that GM's economy was bigger”. Quite. But that is the kind of lengths to which the Downing Street smear machine will go to dump their failure elsewhere.
One lighter note came from the Manchester Young Conservatives Twitter feed, where someone had had their party loyalty tested beyond its limits. “Boris has lied about helping us in the North. It’s time for him to go … Btw this doesn’t make us #fbpe morons. Just want some competency in regards to helping our city”. But no party apparatchik is of perfect courage, and the Tweets were later deleted. The adoration of the Bozo had to continue.
There is, though, a problem with Burnham blaming. It won’t work. Hello there Dom.
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