A sad old man rages at the dying of the light
And nowhere can this sickness be seen to better effect than in the world of our free and fearless press, where obsession is arguably too mild a term to use for the all-consuming pursuit of the Labour Party’s leadership by those in the Northcliffe House bunker, driven on by the boiling rage of one individual - the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.
Dacre has become obsessed with breaking Labour’s leadership. Worse, the fear instilled in the rest of the media class by the prospect of retribution from the Vagina Monologue means that there has been no restraint on his actions. Thus he got away with a deeply misogynistic, bullying and voyeuristic smear of deputy leader Angela Rayner, pushing an untrue story claiming she was emulating Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.
Yet more sickening was the Mail’s subsequent claim that Ms Rayner made up the story herself (she didn’t) and that the Dacre doggies were therefore the victims of some unspecified Rotten Lefty™ plot. But that, we now know, was a mere hors d’oeuvres for a more substantial entrée, an all-out attack on Labour leader Keir Starmer.
Which brings us to what is now being called Beergate: a meeting following a day’s campaigning in April last year, when a takeaway was delivered. Starmer drank a beer while eating his food. This was allowed under the Covid restrictions at the time, as there was a campaigning exemption. Durham Police investigated and took no action.
But here a problem enters for that part of the press fully invested in alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson: Bozo had been caught breaking those rules, the Met was on the case, fines were being issued with more to come, and the story was beyond spinning. He Done It. He was Bang To Rights. The Durham meeting was the one opening for the Tories and their press pals to claim all politicians were the same.
And it was here where Dacre and his shock troops vanished down their own rabbit hole: first came the order to lay off Bozo, because there were more important issues du jour to consider. There was a war on! Then, when the chance came to pitch that false equivalence, the issue somehow became more important than war. If it was Labour.
Cover-up! Lies! Zap! Pow! Dull!! Along came “POLICE TOLD TO INVESTIGATE LABOUR’S LIES”. So they did. Starmer and Ms Rayner said they would resign their positions if fined, creating a clear gap of principle between them and Bozo. Cue burning of rubber and a screeching 180-degree U-Turn as the Mail went into maximum pearl-clutching mode and howled “STARMER ACCUSED OF PILING PRESSURE ON POLICE”.
He’s trying to influence the outcome! That’s totally different to those Tory MPs who really did try and influence the outcome of Charlie Elphicke’s trial. Maybe the Mail missed that. Maybe they also missed their hero Bozo actually pressuring the Met over the prospect of more fines over more of those Downing Street parties that don’t worry the Mail.
No, none of that matters, as the rabbit hole descent continues, with the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton asserting that Starmer is the moral equivalent of Richard Milhous Nixon. That the Labour leader hasn’t ordered the burglary of his opponents’ headquarters, and tried to cover it up, is not allowed to enter. Quick! Bad man from history! Compare! SQUIRREL!
The Mail’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges has said, and, as Theresa May memorably said, I am not making this up (OK, in her case, she was, but stick with me here), “people are assuming if he [Starmer] gets away with not breaking the law he’s in the clear”. And there I was thinking that “not breaking the law” was the right thing to do. Silly me! Starmer is wrong BECAUSE THE MAIL SAYS SO.
By now, not even the Murdoch Sun has put the pitiful attempts to continue the Beergate tedium on its front page. But so consumed is Dacre by his obsession with forcing Labour and its leadership to yield to his iron will that he has, along with his wretched sycophant underlings, locked himself into his own death spiral. Either Starmer and Ms Rayner will crawl away, duly vanquished, or the Vagina Monologue will want to know why not.
Or maybe he will finally spontaneously combust, in a modern day tribute to Mr Creosote.
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