By far the most interesting event of this week was the serialisation of the diaries of Piers Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror. Ebury Press paid more than £1 million for this work, while the Daily Mail unloaded £250,000 on the serialisation alone. Piers Morgan is one of a circle of louche, not always savoury characters who have hung around Downing Street since the inception of the Blair regime in 1997, betraying the Blairs and being betrayed in return, in conditions of irredeemable moral squalor. This group includes party donors, lawyers, tabloid newspaper editors, PR men and a New Age therapist. It has come to define the Blair era as decisively as Joe Kagan and George Wigg defined Harold Wilson, or David Mellor and Jeffrey Archer set their seal on John Major.
At the start of his diary, Morgan, a prominent member of the upstart media class which New Labour has done so much to flatter and promote, proudly records his access to the Prime Minister: ‘22 lunches, six dinners, six interviews, 24 further one-to-one chats over tea and biscuits, and numerous phone calls.’ This in itself is a catastrophic commentary on the wretched condition into which the British democratic system has sunk in a matter of just two decades. Twenty years ago Margaret Thatcher had her relationship with the Sun. But she kept her distance, using intermediaries like Gordon Reece and various Central Office low life. She spared her face time for serious people. On extremely rare occasions, to be counted on the fingers of one hand, she travelled to Wapping, kicked off her shoes, and allowed Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of the Sun, to meet her in person. She understood many things, among them mystique.
The Blairs, by contrast, have chosen to become intimate with tabloid editors.