Allow me to begin with a quote from Private Eye:
‘For a man whose newspapers love Britain so much, the 4th Viscount Rothermere is remarkably enamoured of the world’s tax havens as shelters for his enormous riches.
‘Since 1995, three years before the Hon Jonathan Harmsworth (as he then was) inherited the Daily Mail & General Trust plc empire from his father, the 3rd Viscount, the group has been controlled through a company, Rothermere Continuation Ltd, registered in Bermuda but run from Jersey (one offshore specialist told the Eye that companies registered in Britain’s Caribbean overseas territories have the advantage of being “very portable”).‘
It’s important, I feel, to include this explanation of where the aristocratic Jonathan Harold Esmond Vere Harmsworth is coming from when his poisonous organ, the Mail on Sunday, launches a pathetic attack on Labour leader Keir Starmer. The only part of the article that is relevant is tucked away in the final three paragraphs and that’s deliberate because all the Mail really wants you to read is the headline and first paragraph. I very much doubt that most Mail readers – average age 58 – are capable of reading any long story. It’s what the Mail is saying about Starmer that’s most interesting.
Labour’s new leader reached the top of his profession when he came the Director of Public Prosecutions. He came from a working class background, his father was a toolmaker, his mother a nurse, and because of his hard work and brilliance as a lawyer he became hugely successful. With that probably came a fair amount of money, too, but what’s wrong with that?
I would imagine Starmer’s parents wanted him to succeed in life, to achieve more and have a better standard of living than they enjoyed. As a parent, that’s everything I have ever wanted with my own children. Why, in the eyes of the Mail, should Starmer not succeed in life? Because he is a socialist and because socialists are not meant to be well-off?
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, who has written a piece for today’s Mail on Sunday (and if you must read it, please do so for free on line rather than buying it), gets a free ride. Like Viscount Rothermere, whose great grandfather, the first Lord Rothermere who in the 1930s actively supported Adolf Hitler, it all came easy to Johnson. Born into money, he was propelled through Eton and Oxford University and then into journalism and politics. The Mail loves Johnson for being born rich but hates Starmer for being successful and earning a few bob. They’re terrified that Starmer might get into power and threaten their sense of entitlement.
The young Starmer’s socialist instincts and principles did not change throughout his career as a lawyer. He often worked pro bono for causes in which he strongly believed. He then became an MP when he could easily have continued working as a lawyer. You can probably guess which would have been the most lucrative choice. It is clear that his sharp sense of justice remains strong. Now he is leader of the Labour Party, which is recovering from a disastrous experiment where an elderly backbencher with no obvious talent, one who assumed the leadership by reheating the failed Bennite politics of the 1980s, and while these are still early days, things are getting slightly better. Hence the Mail’s attack.
In my world, nothing is too good for the working classes. The best Champagne? Caviar? Holidays in the West Indies? Why not? On what grounds should such luxuries be confined to the landed gentry? Why should socialists not get on? For me, that’s what socialism is all about. Not the tired envy of the middle class hard left or the arrogant dismissiveness of the hard right. Starmer’s success should be celebrated, regardless of his political leanings.
The authors of the Mail article, Ian Gallagher and Harry Cole, should hang their heads in shame. As I have indicated before, my own writing career has been a resounding failure and I’ve never been close to making money from it, never mind writing for a living, but at least I don’t have to resort to pitiful personal attacks to please my tax dodging proprietor. Messrs Gallagher and Cole are sorry excuses for journalists.
What this sorry episode shows is that the establishment is worried about Keir Starmer. Like last week’s doctored video distorting Starmer’s stance on prosecuting child sex grooming gangs, this is just the start. This happens to every Labour leader, but particularly one who worryingly, to the establishment, looks like a potential prime minister.
Starmer is more a ‘man of the people’ than Johnson will ever be.