It must irk the Daily Mail grandee Paul Dacre that Patience Wheatcroft and Charles Moore currently sit in the House of Lords. Both are, like him, former editors – they presided over respectively the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph – and he’d no doubt regard their innings as infinitely less successful than his own at the Mail.
That he’s still plain Mr Dacre is the subject of much speculation, but I am told it is largely because Boris Johnson – like Theresa May before him – knew that there was a lot to be said for using the prospect of ennoblement to keep him on side. That can’t of course be taken for granted once he’s taken his seat.
The other issue is that the committee that oversees these honours doesn’t like the idea of individuals who still preside over newspapers becoming peers as it raises the prospect of potential conflicts of interest. Sir David English – Dacre’s predecessor as editor of the Mail – had ceased to be involved with the day-to-day running of the Mail newspapers when he was about to accept the honour in 1998 but his untimely death that year cheated him of it.
In Dacre’s case, the idea of him relinquishing his influence over the Mail papers in order to placate the committee would almost certainly not be an appealing prospect for Johnson as he’s now his last reliable cheerleader in national newspapers. The editorial in the Daily Mail last week – headlined “The truth is Mr Johnson still stands head and shoulders above any of his would-be assassins” – was pathetic, desperate stuff and amounted to Dacre telling the world he wanted a peerage at any cost.
As I’ve reported, Lord Rothermere, Dacre’s proprietor, is considerably less enamoured by Johnson. It’s unlikely, too, that Rothermere would relish the prospect of a mere employee being elevated to equal status to himself.