A government-run Twitter account criticized the Daily Mail over the weekend for a story it ran in regard to the correct interpretation of coronavirus statistics.
In response, the Daily Mail today, Monday, ran a series of articles that were at best lukewarm in regard to the government – One last spurge from Rishi Sunak – and at worst downright hostile – a ‘Terrifying Dossier’ that shows the real cost of the coronavirus.
“Can we afford to keep the brakes on Britain?” asks the Mail, pointedly, given that net debt has risen to over GBP2tn, year-on-year borrowing has soared by GBP170bn, and unemployment is now edging towards 8%.
The Mail’s main thrusts are financial. There are other articles that highlight that 75% of hospitality companies are likely to go bust by Christmas, that Whitehall staff working from home are spending huge amounts on frivolous office luxuries, that in the midst of all this Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is due a pay rise, and, separately, that the public sector has ‘squandered’ GBP5.6bn on a variety of wasteful projects and salaries.
Now, in a way, all this is grist to the mill for a government in the grip of a crisis. Indeed, the government at least passed crisis management-101 in acknowledging that there is a crisis back in March. Poiticans learned that lesson the hard way when The Sun ran its famous ‘Crisis, What Crisis?’ headline during the Winter of Discontent in 1976, while Callaghan sojourned in the Caribbean.
Is this crisis worse than the Winter of Discontent?
It is from the Daily Mail’s point of view. Back then the country was spiralling into economic chaos under the auspices of a Labour party that seemed bereft of ideas and direction, a perfect storm for Daily Mail editorials.
This time round the government’s conservative, or at least nominally so, and you can almost hear the Daily Mail editors gritting their teeth.
But Middle England’s voice, it turns out, is the only real opposition to the government’s curtailing by fiat of secular and religious freedoms, and to its ballooning to grotesque proportions of the national debt, something it was certainly not mandated to do when it was elected.
What’s the Daily Mail to do, when ‘hard-working families’ no longer get rewarded by their just resorts, as the mythology of the Protestant Work Ethic says they should, but instead get turfed out of work and made to subsist on state handouts generated by the magic money and sleight of hand of modern monetary theory.
The answer, in the end, as many on the traditional right have already concluded, is to concede that the current government isn’t in fact conservative at all, or is at least conservative only in name.
Fiscally conservative? – absolutely not, with debt levels higher than they’ve been since World War Two.
Socially conservative? – not really, when a principal policies has been to force self-reliant people out of work and into the arm of government charity.
The Mail can sense the tax rises coming, and it wants its readers to be ready. Will the tax rises be higher under Labour than under the Conservatives? In a sense it hardly matters. Both Labour and the Conservatives are now the parties of high tax, and indeed both are parties of tax and spend.
The Labour Party may be more in favour of the woke agenda than the Conservatives, but that’s about it. In terms of the architecture and the moral makeup of the country, both parties are statist, big government, against the individual and in favour of massive spending.
It’s no wonder the Daily Mail is following the money. It’s the big story of the day. It’s a battle for the fiscal future of the country and, what no-one could have predicted at the beginning of the year, for the political future of the Conservative party.