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Pantomime horse

For me, the Daily Telegraph lost its soul as a newspaper a few years ago, when its custodians seemed to decide that it had to compete with the Guardian. Since then it has gone to hell, not, it seems, in the usual vehicle, a hand-cart, but in a  coach and pair. Such a policy is, of course, nonsense. The late and very great Bill Deedes, and his chum Denis, must be muttering into their celestial gins and tonic, even as I write. Telegraph readers are Telegraph readers and Guardian readers are Guardian readers, by instinct, up-bringing and inclination, and never the twain shall meet. They are sorted into their respective groups at birth.

The Torygraph‘s decline into terminal silliness has never been demonstrated more clearly than by its obsession with ‘Raisa-gate’ and its interest in whether the Prime Minister ever mounted a retired Metropolitan police horse that had been loaned to Rebecca Brooks, the Witch of Wapping. I suspect that if Dave was suspected of mounting Mrs Brooks herself, the paper could not have roused itself to greater frenzy.

I don’t get it, as Ed Miliband might say. If Mrs Brooks, whose husband is a racehorse trainer, volunteered to feed and care for a nag that had been put out to pasture, so what? If their friend Mr Cameron happened to trot it round the paddock, so what? I flat out do not believe the claim that there is a long queue of people waiting for the privilege of re-homing elderly police nags, but even if there is, why should Mrs Brooks have been barred from joining it, as this Leveson-inspired, dog-eating-dog nonsense seems to imply?  I, for one, don’t care, and I doubt that too many sensible people do.

What I do care about is the decline in journalistic standards that has accompanied the once-great newspaper’s decline into darkness. When Christopher Hope, its senior political correspondent, can write, ‘He apologised for allowing a “confusing picture” to emerge about his personal connection to the horse, which he had rode before the election with Mrs Brooks’ husband Charlie, a friend from their Eton school days‘, without having his bottom smacked for appalling grammar by Tony Gallagher, his editor, or by Benedict Brogan, the school bully, there is no hope.

I do wish, though that Dave would stop being sorry for things. Not so long ago he was apologetic after making people laugh by remarking, ‘How many tweets make a twat?’ (A decent question, given the out-pourings of some Twitter users.) Now he’s doing it again. Who is advising him, so badly? Make me thirty years younger and put me in Downing Street, as his spokesman. If Mr Hope had approached me and asked me whether the PM had ever ridden Raisa, I would have been inclined to reply, ‘Yes, and why not? The animal needed exercising and he volunteered. Now go away, stop wasting everyone’s time, and let the man get on with running the country, and plotting secretly to ensure Scottish independence simply by opposing it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joy
    March 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Silly season starting early or perhaps a hack, hacking the hack??? Maybe a good cough mixture is required!

  2. March 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Haven’t seen a Gorbachev joke yet.

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