The dangerously engaging Tory chairman (or whatever his role is) Eric Pickles said on the radio this morning, in defence of the frenzied attacks by some newspapers on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg since last week's Prime Ministerial Debate, "It's what the other two parties have to deal with...We have a free press."
No, we don't. We have a press that's largely owned and dictated to by multi-millionaire businessmen who are using the papers to advance a political agenda that they, the businessmen, benefit from. Which is to say, the one advanced by the Conservative Party.
And the scurrilous attacks on Clegg (and the Lib Dems) by those papers haven't been endured by both the other parties at any time in my memory. The Daily Mirror may, like that king of legend attempting to hold back the tide (yes, I know he wasn't really doing that), try to slice and dice David Cameron in its fairly ineffective way; but that high-minded cultural review The Sun -- which is the real opinion-former in the country -- savages only Brown, and in a manner that would be illegal if it were done outside the political field. The Express, the Mail and the Telegraph distort the political truths more politely, but just as one-sidedly.
Given the violence of the media's opposition to Labour, it's remarkable that they're still in with a (distant) shout. And if I were Brown I would have said fuck it and quit the game ages ago.
The free press in this country is a myth. It may be that the only place you can find absolute honesty in relation to politics or anything else is in forums like this, on the internet, which the mainstream press regards with suspicion.
Yes. They haven't found a way they can buy it.