We posted here about how a Daily Mail mindset at the Scottish Labour Party has led it to invent a crisis in Scottish schools. The was done in order to attack the Scottish government’s pursuit of an independence referendum by claiming it was ignoring all manner of serious policy issues in the meantime.
Today we provide a postscript.
The former Daily Mail journalist at the centre of the piece responded not by denying the charge (because of course it is so obviously true), but by pointing out that a former Daily Mail journalist works for the First Minister too.
“You forgot to mention that Nicola Sturgeon’s head of comms came straight from the Daily Mail as well”, he tweeted.
This puerile finger pointing was designed to misdirect people who saw his tweet away from the lack of a denial, and also from what our piece actually said. Because misdirection is what the Daily Mail, and now apparently the Scottish Labour Party, does.
Our piece said not that journalists don’t work for all parties – everyone knows they do – but that The Scottish Labour Party has uniquely handed personal control of its style and expressed values to a single Daily Mail journalist in such a way as to merge the values and style of the Daily Mail and The Scottish Labour Party. This style is underlined by that journalist using his leading role with Scottish Labour to boost his own public profile; obviously for use in future employment and that quite possibly back with the Daily Mail. On social media, there’s little doubt that the journalist in question is Scottish Labour’s most prolific, openly-identified, official spokesperson. This means that he has replaced elected politicians in the role of leadership – that is unique and it seems odd that Scottish Labour politicians are prepared to go along with it.
The trouble for Scottish Labour being so closely associated with the style and content produced by one Daily Mail journalist working to his own personal agenda, and that of the Daily Mail’s, is twofold.
First, it means that the views and values of a strong Tory newspaper are infecting Scottish Labour. It is ‘The Union First’, above all other aspects of social policy. We have already seen how Scottish Labour has made up an educational crisis to justify this ultra-unionist line. The obvious trend is that as Scottish Labour is thrown a bone or two by the Tory Daily Mail and similarly-minded newspapers via its own former (and perhaps future) staffer, it is being led up the garden path by Tories who wish to use the party as a proxy for its own unionist cause.
Those Tory newspapers will of course savage Scottish Labour at a later date and make the fair point that Scottish Labour was never truly an obsessive party of the union. Scottish Labour simply can’t ‘out-union’ the Scottish Tories. This will help the Tories at the right time before the each set of elections – watch this space. With supreme irony, it’s perfectly possible that the person inflicting the Daily Mail’s harm on Labour then will be Labour’s own spokesperson today, having simply gone back to his old job!
Second, though, the Daily Mail is a great success because it understands hypocrisy and deploys it skilfully. Its editor-in-chief is in many ways a legend within the newspaper industry and the newspaper has many first-grade folk in its staff – not least because it recognises how unattractive it is to work there by paying people higher salaries. When you work at the Daily Mail, more than any other newspaper, you must be prepared to play strongly to middle England’s hypocrisy. At the Scottish Daily Mail, you must be prepared to reflect that English Tory perspective too.
An important truth recognised by the Daily Mail is that hypocrisy is far from the worst human characteristic. Most people are guilty of it in one way or another. So the Daily Mail sells millions of newspapers across the UK by putting a value at its core – hypocrisy – which is not the most attractive human trait but in most contexts is relatively benign.
Except politics. Open hypocrisy – of the kind which makes the Daily Mail a great commercial success – is fatal in politics. However much people may joke about politicians and hypocrisy, where a leading politician can be shown to be a hypocrite on a matter related to his or her responsibilities then it destroys their credibility. Parties always excise politicians caught out as hypocrites, because otherwise they are infected too.
Scottish Labour, in making up public policy crises and following the Daily Mail’s agenda, is being infected by the hand of its own spokesperson. To get a sense of the scale of the hypocrisy he is inseminating into Labour, readers can scan his own recent Daily Mail stories. And with Scottish Labour’s Education spokesman, Iain Gray, claiming empathy with Scottish teachers while falsely also claiming a crisis exists in their output, the rot is setting in with the political leadership too. People should watch for similar values infecting their statements over Health and other ‘priorities’.
It will soon be too late for any antidote. Perhaps one will arrive at the last moment? For now, the odds seem against it and the Daily Mailification of Scottish Labour continues apace.
(Hat tip to Steven Anderson for RTs below)