I don’t know if you’ve been to the Daily Telegraph website of late. I’m there several times a day, because its business coverage is up there with the Guardian and the FT these days. But of late, the site is plastered with articles about CGT. Good God, it witters on, this young whippersnapper Cameron has compromised with Clegg on CGT: how dare he!
Well I’ll tell you why Brogan and friends: because David Cameron is the Prime Minister, and neither you nor Simon Heffer nor even Tammy Winnett are. In the end, you’re members of the Fourth Estate, and I’m afraid your chaps lost. Not only did they lose, but Norman Tebbit is over eighty and it’s time he got off his bike.
Whether you lot think they were right or wrong (and I have grave doubts about that too) this is what 68% of the people out there (according to MORI) say they want, and so that’s that. It’s called democracy, now get over it.
Why does this whole episode – being myself a man far from the fluffy centre of politics – make me as angry as those opening paragraphs suggest? The answer is simple to discern if one is still in possession of the plot: step over the line that separates wannabe power-brokers from real newspapers, and at best the thinking folks will dump you – at worst, you’ll suffer the same fate as the Trade Union movement.
The hypocrisy and double standards involved in the vendetta – which last night moved on to Danny Alexander – was plainly explained in yesterday’s Slog piece about ‘niche’ journalism. Having done Charles Kennedy’s dirty-work for him last week, the Torygraph chooses just now to unleash information it’s had on Alexander for months. Why? In the public interest? Bollocks: it is trying to apply pressure on the Osborne team to tone down the CGT proposals – and it is trying over time to destabilise the elected Government of the United Kingdom.
I need Ben Brogan to explain to me how this makes his staff any better than the Reds in Unite, the LibDem rumpy-leaky tendency, Mandelson’s rapier-thrusts to the throat, and Campbell’s deeply nasty appearance on the BBC’s Question Time last week. (Had you already tipped Chemical Ali off, Ben? I think we should be told.)
There’s a rainbow-in-negative cacophony of bitterness at work in Britain today – and what a ghastly crock of shit lies at the end of it: Balls, Whelan, Farage, Tebbitt, and every other grumpy, out of line dinosaur from Rupert Murdoch to Piers Morgan.
If the Daily Telegraph wants to join that shower, then good riddance. But I certainly won’t be reading it. I am a friend of the Telegraph and all its fine traditions. I think Robert Winnett a fine journalist of enormous intellect and talent, and Brogan a political editor of rare insight. As a real friend, however, I don’t ask the DT team to live up to my standards: rather, I accuse them of falling below their own.
They are guilty on that count. And somehow, I think sane minds in the Telegraph building know it.