A campaign is under way to get the Daily Mail grandee Paul Dacre his peerage, currently blocked by the Lords authorities as they aren’t happy that he is still exerting influence over a newspaper group. This ignoble cause is not, of course, being pursued in the pages of the Mail – that would be too unsubtle – but on the Conservative Home website, where Dacre’s old pal Lord Ashcroft holds the majority stake.
Its assistant editor, William Atkinson, wrote an article under the headline “Why Dacre deserves a peerage” that put forward somewhat questionable arguments. Charles Moore and Claire Fox are journalists, Atkinson pointed out, and both have been given peerages. (The issue the Lords authorities have with Dacre is that he remains – unlike Moore or Fox – involved in the editorial direction of a newspaper group).
Atkinson stated, too, that Dacre was instrumental in the quest for justice for the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. This is an awkward argument to put forward right now as Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, is party to a legal action accusing the Mail of “abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy”, which the newspaper group vigorously disputes.
The timing of this campaign is to say the least unfortunate. After declaring on its front page it wanted Liz Truss to lead the nation because she has “the boldness, vision and strength of conviction to build on what Boris began,” Dacre’s Mail abruptly and unapologetically shunted into reverse gear last week with a front page that admitted: “Truss was a disastrous dalliance who served only to remind us what a real leader looks like.”