Alex Massie

The Telegraph’s Secret Agenda!

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Nadine Dorries is at the end of her tether:

Does the DT [Daily Telegraph] have an agenda other than the desire to perform a public service?

Why would they expose this fiasco at the start of an election campaign if the priority was not to destabilise the main political parties and to drive votes towards the minority parties? Really, this presumes that newspapers are vastly more cunning than tends to be the case. The Telegraph is motivated by something rather quaintly old-fashioned: a story. Like anything else in the paper this is designed to serve two ideas: make money and b) inform the public. Just occasionally (oh, happy day!), it's possible for a story to do both. The idea that the newspapers are secretly working to advance the interests of smaller, more extreme parties is, I'm afraid, risible even if, it should be admitted, the rise of those parties is also a good story since it adds to the colour and the conflict of British politics which is, in turn, the sort of stuff journalists consider Very Important.

The risk is that all this talk of reform and accountability and parliament-by-calculator is likely, if we ain't careful, to turn Westminster into a drab, featureless, wasteland populated by stationery-salesmen, accountants and jumped-up local government functionaries. The Grey Suits Will Prevail. It's the sort of thing that Charter 88 and its successors would love: a nice, neat, logical constitution in which everything works and makes sense and everything is cripplingly, fundamentally dull. A sort of souped-up Scottish Parliament. Sure, Westminster's quirks often make little sense and, sure, there's lots that you might think loopy about the dear old constitution. But it's ours and, after a fashion, it works and can be made to do again without tearing everything down and imposing some dreary logic to matters...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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