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TUESDAY 16 JULY  2024

*

Memo to the Daily Mail: Stop all the lies and credit voters with some honesty for once

It’s 10.30 in Derry Street and the Daily Mail morning conference is starting. ‘Good show today,’ says the editor, Ted Verity, ‘but we can do much better. Our efforts are not showing dividends in the polls. We’ve set the agenda with the spectre of a Starmer supermajority and Boris and Nadine are doing their best (so they bloody should given how much we’re paying them) so why aren’t the polls shifting?’

 

Silence. ‘Well come on, what do we need? Anyone?’

 

Andrew Pierce (for it is he of the custard pie face): ‘I think we’ve been too reliant on the lies coming out of CCHQ. Let’s invent our own, after all we are paid to use our imagination.’

 

‘Ok, good idea. Any in mind?’

 

‘Lots. So far we’ve warned about Labour’s plans to reverse Brexit, that they will introduce sex change lessons in primary schools, that we will all be fleeced by soaring hidden taxes and that a Labour government will lead to a one party Socialist dictatorship. It’s time to up our game.’

 

 Sarah Vine: ‘I’ll ring my ex, he’s a total snake and loves this sort of thing. The bastard.’

 

Quentin Letts (he of the strangulated, overstretched analogy): ‘Rather, how about Comrade Keir’s plan to tax all children born to registered Tory Party members?  And to turn the Carlton Club into a hostel for illegal immigrants. And what about them banning the King James Bible and the plan to concrete over my beloved Herefordshire...’

 

Verity: ‘Bloody hell, are these true?’

 

QL: ‘Of course not but none of our other splashes over the last four weeks have been, so what? The only hope is some serious scare tactics.’

 

Verity: ‘Bonkers, any thoughts?’

 

P Hitchens: ‘Well Starmer is going to ban me riding my bike on the grounds that I’m barmy.’

 

All, murmuring: ‘Well he does have a point.’

 

You can be sure the same sort of scenario is playing out at the Telegraph though probably not at the Express where the idea of morning conference is a phone call to Tory campaign HQ for instructions.

 

It’s a long way from the era when newspapers really did try to tell at least a semblance of the truth. The five newspapers I have worked for were all Conservative-supporting; the Express, Mail, Evening News and Sketch (of blessed memory) and the fifth, my first, the Belfast News Letter was Unionist so essentially Tory. But none ever tried to skew things so violently as in this election.

 

Starmer is hardly charismatic or inspiring but I cannot believe that he has plans for a red-in-tooth-and-claw Socialist state (as in the South American or old Soviet tradition) as the Mail would have us believe. Or that he would encourage Rayner to let rip. But I do wish he would try to tell the truth about Corbyn. The next time he is asked, as he surely will be, if he really wanted the daft old Trot to be prime minister, he should fess up: ‘Of course not but I had to say that, he was leader of my party. I had to.’

 

If he was really honest he would say that it was Corbyn who led to the least worst option of Boris because no sane person could have voted for a Labour Party led by him. And the lying Johnson led to the woman outlived by a lettuce, who was followed by Sunak. In other words it’s all Corbyn’s fault.      

 

Honesty, that’s all we want as voters. From the parties, the candidates and from the media. Is it too much to ask? Of course it bloody is.

 

*****

 

Ah, talking of the truth, let us turn to Truth Media. On Saturday we celebrated my birthday by spending the day in Richmond, that most perfect of London’s villages, eating gelato on Little Green watching a spot of cricket (they don’t sell ice-cream in the place, only the posh Italian variety), then early supper at the Ivy and finally the uproarious Drop the Dead Donkey: The Reawakening at the Richmond Theatre. It has great relevance to all I have just written because, as followers of the hilarious TV series from the ‘90s will remember, so much of what came out of that newsroom at Globelink News was made-up bollox.

 

Following a takeover by a mysterious buyer two decades earlier it is now called Truth News, an oxymoron if ever there was one. And the main topic is of course the general election. The original cast is back though inevitably looking 30 years older (sadly not Haydn Gwynne or David Swift, both dead) and the writing of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin is as sharp and funny as ever. And as topical.

 

Damien (Stephen Tompkinson) still carries that teddy-bear and bloodied shoe to help ‘humanise’ the scene when he covers an earthquake/rail crash/gas explosion; Dave (Neil Pearson) is still the complete chancer and gambler, the sort of chap who would bet on the date of a general election, who knew; Sally (Victoria Wicks) a screaming prima donna in the mould of dear Heather McGlone; George (Jeff Rawle) a gibbering, put-upon wreck and of course the interfering ceo Gus (Robert Duncan) still talks management-speak crap about not interfering.

 

Oh and Sir Trevor McDonald makes a cameo appearance by video and is electrocuted live on air. 

 

Up to the minute jokes galore: ‘We’ve got Ed Davey coming on.’ ‘How much?’ ‘Only £200, he said it’s all he could afford.’ The awful Sally reads the latest on President Xi. Looking puzzled she announces ‘President Ten, then quizzically One?’ And when the mystery owner of Truth News is finally revealed to be the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il,  George says: ‘Oh my God, it’s Kim Jong Two’   It’s now on tour, don’t miss it.

 

*****

 

There was no chance of a snooze during the show but I remember a private screening of Cry Freedom, Richard Attenborough’s epic about Steve Biko, when our brilliant film critic Ian Christie nodded off. At the end of the film Garth Pierce and I were talking to the great director when Christie came over. ‘I’ve just got to see that through again Dickie.’ ‘Oh did you enjoy it so much darling?’ ‘No, I fell asleep.’

 

The perils of lunchtime drinking.

 

*****

 

Hypocrite of the month: Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Greens, says she is getting rid of her gas boiler in favour a heat pump. ‘I’ve got the quotes but had to put buying one on hold because of the election. What she really means is ‘I better get an eco-friendly heat pump because wouldn’t it look bad if anyone found out about the boiler.’

 

Save your money Carla and heat your home on all that hot air!

 


ALAN FRAME


26 June 2024



Even the far-Right are upset