Thursday, 9 November 2017

Theresa May's career is hanging by a thread, and she knows Paul Dacre could snip it at any moment

On the evening after the second resignation from her government in the space of a week, anyone might have thought that Theresa May would focus on resolving some of the chaos in her own party. But no, she decided to jaunt off to a banquet in honour of the Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre instead.

Dacre has been the editor of the vile tax-dodging right-wing propaganda rag for 25 years, and under his watch they've published some extraordinary articles. 

One of his early hits was "Abortion hope after gay gene finding" suggesting that parents could use tests on the xq28 gene to check for potential gayness so as to abort gay fetuses.

Another of Dacre's big hits came when his newspaper launched an unprecedented attack on a dead war hero, simply because his son was doing quite well as Labour leader at the time. It's no coincidence that the "man who hated Britain" smear-job on Ralph Miliband was launched after Ed Miliband announced Labour's popular policy of capping energy bills (a policy later ripped off by Theresa May and actually celebrated in the Daily Mail).

Since the Brexit vote the Daily Mail has become more and more rabid. They've attacked judges as "enemies of the people" after they defended parliamentary sovereignty from Theresa May's efforts to rule as an autocrat; they've attacked anyone who doesn't support Theresa May's shambolic handling of the Brexit negotiations as "saboteurs"; and recently they've launched a witch-hunt against the academic freedom to criticise or critique Brexit, and published several victim-blaming articles attacking women who have denounced Westminster sex pests.

If Theresa May had any sense of public duty she could have tried to clear up some of the mess she's been making (planning her latest cabinet reshuffle after Priti Patel's resignation over the 'freelance diplomacy' scandal; or figuring out what to do about Boris Johnson's continuing displays of incompetence; or dealing with the Westminster sex pest scandal; or working out what to do about the 58 Brexit impact assessments that she's been ordered to stop hiding, but which her Brexit minister David Davis is now claiming don't even exist; or taking action on the latest tranche of shocking revelations about the tax-dodging exploits of corporations and the super rich ...). However instead of trying to tidy up some of the chaos, she decided to put her own self-interest first by rushing off to brown nose Paul Dacre at his private party.

It's hardly surprising that May was so keen to suck up to Dacre given how close the pair are. In her first six months as Prime Minister he was the only media figure she invited to a private dinner at Downing Street, and the Daily Mail has never faltered in its support for her, no matter how badly she keeps screwing up.

When Theresa May put on her clown costume to make her ridiculous diplomatic toddler tantrum of speech in January 2017, the Daily Mail actually lauded her as if she was the new Margaret Thatcher; w
hen she called her vanity election the Daily Mail erupted with joy at the thought of her winning a super-majority and vanquishing anyone who stood in her waywhen she completely lost the plot and spewed insane conspiracy theories about how the EU were plotting to undermine her, her words were almost identical to the kind of unhinged editorial you'd read in the Daily Mail; and in the final throes of the election campaign Dacre's hacks attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party with unprecedented ferocity, but to no avail.

After screwing up the election so badly, and stumbling from one crisis to another ever since, Theresa May's own party have lost faith in her, and significant elements of the once loyal right-wing press have lost faith in her too. The only reason she's still in the job at all is that she's a convenient human bullet shield for the rest of her party to hide behind as the chaos they've created gets worse and worse.

It's absolutely clear that if Dacre decided to turn his guns on her now, she'd be finished. This is why she decided that brown-nosing him was her primary over-riding objective, even in the middle of a hurricane of crises and controversies. She knows that Dacre put her where she is, and after all of her blundering ineptitude, he now has the absolute power to knock her down again.

In light of this, a display of grovelling subservience to the man who holds her political destiny in his hands was her only option.

From Dacre's perspective May must be an extraordinary disappointment. His 25 year career at the Daily Mail was all about putting a savagely right-wing socially-illiberal authoritarian into 10 Downing Street (David Cameron was always to wet and socially liberal for Dacre's liking), but she's screwed up at almost every turn since he guided her into power.

By now Dacre must be absolutely livid, but on the other hand, as pathetic as she is, her latest display of boot-licking subservience is a demonstration that she still belongs to him. 

Were he to force her out, there's absolutely no guarantee that her replacement as Tory leader would be willing to pander to his every whim as cravenly as she does, and there's every chance that his nightmare scenario of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street cound come true.

I guess Dacre will stick with her for the time being, because she's demonstrated that she's still his puppet, and owning a damaged puppet that makes a complete farce of dancing to your tune is probably still preferable to having no puppet at all.

But make no mistake about it, Theresa May's decision to genuflect for Paul Dacre when she had a huge number of more pressing issues on her plate is a demonstration of who's really running the show.

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