Over recent years the Daily Mail may have become a reliable thorn in Tony Blair’s side but it has consistently had a soft spot for Gordon Brown. Insiders say the Brown-friendliness is very much the policy of the Mail’s Editor, Paul Dacre.
Today’s Daily Mail leader (not yet online) suggests that Mr Dacre’s generosity is set to continue. Here are some key sections of the leading article:
"His sure-footed performance yesterday – unflashy (like the man himself), full of conviction and moving at times – showed up his rivals as the pygmies most of them are…"
"Mr Brown’s voice rang with unaffected truth when he said of his mother and church minister father: ‘My parents were more than an influence, they were – and still are – my inspiration…"
"There is a decency and integrity about Mr Brown that the Mail admires. If he can bring these qualities to government, that can only be a huge improvement on the Blair era of spin, sleaze and cronyism."
The Mail provides a reminder that Team Cameron should not underestimate Gordon Brown for he clearly does have qualities that appear, in large part, to be an antidote to some of the least popular aspects of Blairism. But The Mail really shouldn’t be allowed to get away with today’s leader. ‘Brown offers Britain a moral compass’ is the leader’s headline but The Mail appears to have thrown away its political compass in its assessment of Mr Brown. In almost throwaway asides, the Mail leader notes Mr Brown’s addiction to spending, the pensions crisis and the deterioration in schools’n’hospitals as if these were small matters in comparison to Mr Brown’s "decency and integrity." The Mail says Mr Brown deserves "huge praise" for Britain’s economy. He doesn’t. His regulations and tax burden (much of it stealthily imposed despite that "decency and integrity") are steadily eroding Britain’s competitiveness.
Today’s Sun Says isn’t as flattering to Brown as The Mail but it falls into some of the same traps. Tony Blair’s premiership may be coming to an end but the once-right-wing press is still not yet free from New Labour’s spell. Falling for New Labour’s spin in 1997 is forgivable but still falling for Labour in 2006 – given its record – is inexcusable.