Sunday, April 19, 2009

Does anyone care about this e-mail 'scandal'?

When I started what I might loosely refer to as work, as a junior reporter on the Evening Leader, in Wrexham, the then editor Reg Herbert, who was a newsman through and through, had a phrase he would use when a story didn't grab his attention.

"That won't be read by my old aunty in Garden Village," he would say, consigning it to the spike (these were the days when papers weren't so short staffed and desperate for copy and so stories did get spiked as opposed to shovelled into the paper come what may)

I don't know whether Reg had an old aunty, but Garden Village was one of the districts of Wrexham, and his old aunty was Reg's version of the man on the Clapham omnibus.

Now, apply Reg's ruling to this e-mail scandal. Do you think come election day anyone in the country is going to cast their vote on the basis of what some spin doctor said in an e-mail to Derek bloody Draper?

No, they don't give a stuff. What will win or lose the next election is whether we're in jobs or out, whether we can get a mortgage or not, whether we've managed to avoid bankruptcy personally or as a nation. That's it.

And, as one very perceptive letter writer to the Guardian pointed out, the Tories might not have engaged in quite this depth of spinnery, but then they've always had the right wing tabloids to do it for them.

Attacking ministers' wives beyond the pale? Not if you live in the very, very odd world of the Daily Mail.

Andy Burnham's wife wore a dress that did not meet the approval of the cat's-arse-mouthed fashionistas on the Mail.

Any Tory voices raised in disapproval of this unwarranted attack? All very quiet.

Any Conservatives disapproving of the treatment meted out to Cherie Blair, Pauline Prescott, Glenys Kinnock to name but a very few over the years?

Nope, nothing, zip, nada.

This is not to defend the juvenilia aimed at Tory wives in the e-mails, but the high horses mounted by the Conservatives do begin to look a little lame when the same treatment and worse was, and is, dished out to Labour spouses day-in, day-out.