The Daily Telegraph is like a Treasure Island of Stupidity. It’s the citadel of the British elite and the glorious mouthpiece of their sublime ignorance of what’s actually going on. Each read is a pleasure, after which you can have a long afternoon nap, safe in the knowledge that these are the key influencers.
Take Benedict Brogan – the papers highly respected political commentator with 33,000 followers on twitter and author of ‘Brogan’s Briefing, Westminster’s must-read morning email’.
Benedict Brogan is the former political editor of the Daily Mail and ‘The Daily Telegraph’s Deputy Editor and one of Westminster’s keenest observers’, we’re told.
So what’s his keen diagnosis of what the No campaign should do to steady the ship? Yay – it’s more lovebombing (‘It’s time David Cameron showed Scots that England does care).
Okay, maybe the Little Chef bit’s not vital to be honest.
Benedict writes: “John Major made the Union his personal cause, touring Scotland to urge his countrymen to “wake up” because the nation was in peril.”
Whilst this not seem *immediately* as the shrewdest of moves, it seems that Benedict’s analysis get’s even more piercing:
“The state of the Better Together campaign has revealed that Labour is far from together at all. Accusations fly that its senior figures are absent from the debate, happy to leave the heavy lifting to Mr Darling and then blame him in whispered briefings. Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy are said to not be doing enough, while John Reid, once the hammer of the Nats, is sulking in his tent like Achilles, peeved that he hasn’t been asked to lead the fight.
Hanging over this is the long shadow of Gordon Brown, who for a quarter-century ran Scottish Labour as a personal fiefdom – and so must take responsibility for its precipitous decline. He has so far made occasional interventions, and will resurface in June with the publication of a memoir about his relationship with Scotland and his belief in the Union. Better one sinner that repenteth and all that – but there will be plenty who will say that it was Mr Brown’s flirtation with nationalism and the demonising of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories and, by implication, England that got Labour into this mess in the first place.”
Where to begin?
Whilst we hadn’t always thought of John Reid and Achilles in the same breath, maybe he is the Star in the Wings that Severin Carrell alluded to? But surely it’s harsh of Benedict on Douglas and Jim. Not doing enough our Douglas Alexander? He makes the same speech regularly.
And what’s with everyone and the shadows and Gordon Brown? You can’t mention the fellow without someone mentioning the shadows. He’s always creeping on our out of them.
Anyway its reassuring that the much trailed ‘significant intervention’ Brown is going to make takes the form of a ‘a memoir about his relationship with Scotland and his belief in the Union’.
That sounds fascinating. And DEFINITELY a game changer.
The trouble with these commentators is they are so remote, so out of their depth it’s just like a string of sentences cobbled together by a monkey. You might feel that’s harsh on the highly regarded Benedict. But what else are you to make of the notion that “it was Mr Brown’s flirtation with nationalism and the demonising of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories and, by implication, England that got Labour into this mess in the first place.”
You may have missed Brown’s flirtation with nationalism (or even his demonising of Thatcher) “The No campaign is also rife with mutterings that far from being a powerhouse, Scottish Labour is a busted flush, with little organisation on the ground, few resources, and no personnel to boast about.”
But you can’t argue with the fact that the answer has got to be David Cameron on a soap box touring the country.
While this is all entertaining some of the English press is far better than ours. John Harris excellent in his drawing on Peter Oborne’s The Triumph of the Political Class (2007), arguing:
London’s mixture of economic isolation and huge political power are integral to the two biggest domestic stories of the year.
First, Scotland. At the core of the momentous debate that has seized that country is a justified resentment of how much power has been amassed by the distant UK capital. Alex Salmond recently spoke of London as the “dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy”; the influential Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal project contrasts many Scots’ ingrained belief in an essentially social-democratic society with what it calls “London orthodoxy”.
Still, there’s one thing poor Benedict get’s right: “David Cameron will resign if he loses Scotland. A Prime Minister who allows the break-up of the United Kingdom cannot suffer such a statement of no confidence and continue in office.
That much is understood in Downing Street, where a gnawing doubt about the referendum gets worse by the day.”
Is that enough to put a spring in your step this fine Spring day?