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The twisted morality of the Daily Mail

The paper’s attacks on Angela Rayner are yet another example of its rank hypocrisy

Image: The New European

Angela Rayner is “on the ropes”, tried and convicted at Derry Street Court of the crime of hypocrisy. She had already been sentenced to years of intrusion and abuse for a previous offence of “foul-mouthed ranting and bile” and that sentence will now be extended to a life term.

For there is no greater sin, in the eyes of the Daily Mail, than hypocrisy. It is also its favourite charge, since the burden of proof is low and it can be levelled at anyone without any need to show they have done anything illegal. 

It is sufficient simply to pose the question of whether the suspect might have broken the law, to ascribe any reticence to open their private lives to scrutiny to “murky”, “shady” or “secretive” goings-on, and to invite others to investigate – thus absolving itself of any responsibility and minimising the risk of legal action. 

If the suspect is subsequently found guilty by higher authority, it will, however, be thanks to the diligence of the Mail and its Sunday sister. They are ever on alert for sinners and, as such, should be the beneficiaries of the nation’s extreme gratitude. 

Without them how would we know, for example, that eco zealots were still using planes? Or more importantly, how would we know that it is wrong for Harry to fly, while it’s OK for William? And that back in the day it was wrong for the then Prince Charles to take a short trip by helicopter, but that there now seems to be no problem with Rishi Sunak using choppers like buses?

When is it a good thing for people to think one thing in adolescence and do the opposite in adulthood? Is it growing up and seeing the light? Or proof of hypocrisy? Who is allowed to change their minds and who is tarred for ever with a discarded belief? 

You see why we need the Mail to help us here. If you are a Theresa May or a Liz Truss who voted Remain, try converting to Brexit and the paper will steer you into 10 Downing Street. If you are a Tory MP or minister, it is your duty to be loyal to whoever happens to be your leader and to work to keep them in power.

If, however, you are a Labour leader who “campaigned to get Jeremy Corbyn elected”, you can never be trusted, even if you reject his legacy and expel him from the party. That just makes you Sir Flip Flop.

It is a key function of the Press to hold those in power – and those who aspire to be in power – to account.  Rayner may have a case to answer and some of the Mail‘s questioning is legitimate. All public figures are accountable. But, as Orwell might have put it, some public figures are more accountable than others. Happily, it is relatively easy to identify those who fall into this category.  Labour, the SNP, the Greens, climate campaigners, “fat cats” in various walks of life, the “woke”, and do-gooder luvvies all seem incapable of understanding the rules. So here is a handy (though not comprehensive) cut-out-and-keep guide to Mail morality.

If you are a socialist, you are not allowed to enjoy any of the good things in life. Definitely not drink champagne. You must not have two Jags (John Prescott), two kitchens (Ed Miliband) or two homes (Rayner). 

If you are a Conservative, you can have as many cars, homes and kitchens as you like (Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron, half the cabinet). Especially if you invite feature writers in to look and admire.

If you are a socialist, you are not allowed to be aspirational. If you come from humble beginnings – Stockport, for example – and pull yourself up by your bootstraps to become deputy leader of the Labour Party (Rayner), you must expect derision and vitriol. Especially if you show yourself to be competent. 

You will be mocked for your accent, your hair colour – and even your “ginger growler” – will be weaponised, your lack of formal education sneered at, your ripe vocabulary shamed.

If you are a Conservative, you are expected to be aspirational. If you come from humble beginnings – Liverpool, for example – and pull yourself up by your bootstraps to become culture secretary and get within an inch of the House of Lords (Nadine Dorries), you can expect to be given a column in the Daily Mail

Especially if you have shown yourself to be incompetent. (The same applies to some former prime ministers with more privileged backgrounds.)

If you are a Conservative immigrant or child of immigrants and become a millionaire and/or reach high office, you are celebrated and congratulated (Sunak, Priti Patel, Suella Braverman, James Cleverly, Nadhim Zahawi). 

If you pursue policies that prevent others following in your footsteps, it is racist to suggest that you are pulling up the drawbridge. This is because policies such as deporting boat people to Rwanda are the will of the people (even when they weren’t mentioned in any manifesto). 

There will be no examination of how you achieved your riches. If, as a minister or party chairman, you make an “error” in your tax return that means you are millions of pounds adrift and have to pay a six-figure fine (Zahawi), your failings will be recorded on page 4 of the Daily Mail

If you lie about these matters and are sacked, the story will be recorded on the front of the GuardianMirror and Times – and page 6 of the Mail

If you are a Conservative voter and you buy your council house and later sell at a profit, you are bettering yourself. If you are a socialist and you buy your council house at a discount and later sell at a profit (Rayner), you are a hypocrite. 

Your entire family living arrangements, birth certificates and tax accounts will be subject to scrutiny on page 1 of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday. If you propose a policy that would mean future council tenants could expect similar discounts to the one you enjoyed – rather than the bigger ones now available – you are definitely pulling up the ladder.

If you are an aristocrat (Charles Spencer) who went to private school, where you had a horrible time, the Mail will serialise your misery memoir. 

If you are a socialist who got into a grammar school, which turned itself into a private school while you were there (Sir Keir Starmer), you are an A* hypocrite if, in later life, you decide to tax them. (If, as a Labour education secretary – Ruth Kelly – you send your dyslexic child to private school in preference to the local primary, then it has to be said you do have a case to answer.)

If you are the Labour shadow home secretary (Diane Abbott) and you get in a muddle on police numbers in a radio interview, you will be pilloried on a double-page spread, the transcript will be reproduced under the headline “Was it the worst interview ever?” and Quentin Letts will compose a sketch on your discomfort. 

If you are the Conservative home secretary (Patel) and you get in a muddle on missing police records, vaccination numbers or Covid regulations at a press conference or on a breakfast TV show, it will somehow escape the attention of the Daily Mail

If you are the Conservative chief secretary to the Treasury (Laura Trott) and you are shown not to understand basic economics in a radio interview about public borrowing, you’ll be glad to know there’s nothing to see here.

If you are a Conservative prime minister (Boris Johnson) who has told the country to stay at home and not to mingle with friends or family for fear of spreading a killer virus, it is ridiculous that you should be fined for marking your birthday with colleagues, your wife and her interior designer – especially if the cake never leaves its Tupperware box. 

Anger about a series of parties held under your roof and in your garden, including a raucous leaving do for a former Mail political editor the night before a royal funeral, is a distraction, a farce, a stitch-up and a witch-hunt, a symptom of a nation that has lost all sense of proportion. The police should not be wasting their time on this.

If you are the Labour leader (Starmer) legally out on the election campaign trail, it is a scandal if you drink a beer and eat a curry at the end of the night. The police should investigate. And the Daily Mail will print eight splash stories on the bounce to hammer the message home. 

If you are a police force, you should be out catching burglars. You should not be investigating prime ministers accused of lockdown breaches or chasing people for imaginary “hate crimes” that upset the “woke”. 

But if you have already looked into a Labour leader’s campaign curry or his deputy’s housing arrangements and found nothing amiss, then it is vital that you look again. 

Hang the expense, the local council and Electoral Commission should also take a squint. And the BBC – or is it “preparing to go back to being the official wing of the Labour Party”? After all, Rayner’s sin was not about the small amount of tax her lawyers and financial advisers say she didn’t owe (less than some MPs could live on for a week), but the principle. 

And the lying. The Mail can “prove” she was lying about her “real home” – even though where she lived had no bearing on any possible tax liability – It’s got old tweets and pictures of cushions.

She should end this cover-up and come clean. And it’s not just the Mail saying that: here’s a Tory peer (and former Telegraph editor), the Spectator, Sun and Times agreeing. When you add the comedian Dom Joly, the radio presenter Jenni Murray (who also happens to be a Mail columnist) to the mix, it’s a real cross-section of society. And the Tory chairman saying she’s making a fool of Keir Starmer further demonstrates how serious this is.

She was preoccupied with a “premature” baby who spent months in intensive care? No excuse. It’s a deflection. No one needs to know her disabled son was born at 23 weeks or that he was in hospital for eight months.

Because if you are a socialist (Rayner) and the Mail has raised questions about your integrity and finances (thanks to a book by a former Tory treasurer who once avoided millions of tax through his non-dom status), you are bang-to-rights front-page news. Especially if the Tory chairman says you’re making a fool of your party leader. You must publish your tax returns and until you do, it won’t let go. And if you capitulate, it will find further ammunition against you.

If, however, you are the multimillionaire wife of a Conservative prime minister (Murty), the Mail will not trouble you about how much you saved from your nondom status – it’s a private matter – or about how your father’s businesses (and you personally) benefit from government contracts. 

If you are a Tory peer (Mone) who has made millions from privileged PPE contracts, it will raise an eyebrow on page 5. If you are a Conservative minister for “common sense” (McVey) who claims tens of thousands of pounds in expenses to cover the rent of a flat while your Tory MP husband lets out his home a mile away, it will report it online, but not in print.

If you are a Tory minister (Hunt) who “forgot” you bought seven luxury flats when declaring your business interests, page six is fine. Everything is ok once you’ve said sorry.

If you are a Conservative leader, there is nothing wrong with accepting £10m (or possibly £15m) from a man who says Britain’s first black woman MP should be shot. The story is worthy only of a single column on page 14. He has no influence on policy (even if his company benefits from millions of pounds of NHS IT contracts). Why should the money be returned? 

If you are a Labour leader, there is everything wrong with accepting £1.5m from a man who also supports the Just Stop Oil movement. You are in hock to the eco-mob. They are setting your policy. The money must go back.

If you are a BBC celebrity (Gary Lineker) who criticises government policy on asylum seekers on your personal social media accounts, you should be silenced or sacked. That you are allowed to keep your job is a slap in the face for licence payers. And anyway, if you’re so keen on refugees, you should open your home to them. But when you do, you’re virtue signalling.

If you are anyone from any walk of life who wants tougher measures to reduce immigration – including Tory MPs presenting programmes or interviewing other Tory MPs on GB News – you must be allowed to have your say, no matter how offensive your language. Because free speech is sacrosanct.

If you are a BBC celebrity (Lineker again) who takes legal measures to reduce your tax liability, you are a holier-than-thou hypocrite. If you are newspaper proprietor (Rothermere, Murdoch) who takes legal measures to reduce your tax liability – perhaps having your “real home” in one place and your “official” address in another – there is nothing to report.

Of course not. Clear now?

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