The trouble with Party Politics is that you have to try to ram everything into your agenda whether it fits or not. This is true for individuals with an political allegiance as well as newspapers. Often the constant pressure of looking for things that embarrass your political enemies leads to pretty pathetic stories.
The Daily Mail are pretty susceptible to attacking Gordon Brown, even when it appears that the attack is utterly pathetic. This article for instance: ‘Help for a hero: Another PR setback for Gordon Brown as wounded serviceman falls on steps of Downing Street‘. If you look at the original url for the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247702/Help-hero-Another-PR-disaster-Gordon-Brown-injured-serviceman-Derek-Derenalagi-falls-Downing-Street-steps.html it is clear that originally it was a ‘PR disaster’ which was then downgraded to a setback, which has now – for most of the headlines at least – been changed completely to: ‘Help for a hero: Gordon Brown to the rescue as wounded serviceman falls on steps of Downing Street’. However, when you click on the article the title shown on the top bar of your web browser is still the original ‘PR disaster’ angle.
Why the change of heart from the Daily Mail? Perhaps it was a sudden realisation that trying to make political capital from a soldier who has had both legs amputated after an explosion in Afghanistan was extremely distasteful and shows a complete lack of respect for the soldier. Perhaps it was the amount of comments under the article pointing out what an utterly ridiculous angle to take: ‘Gordon Brown helps up a soldier who falls over’ simply doesn’t translate into a ‘PR disaster’ because he simply did what any decent human being would have done by helping him up.
Perhaps the only element of PR disaster for the Daily Mail was that he happened to be helping up an immigrant black man, which is presumably a social taboo for the average Mail journalist and reader. Mind you, after the recent ‘Is ME real?‘ poll on the Mail website you could get the impression that they aren’t all that keen on those with disabilities either.
What is clear is that the Daily Mail is quite happy to use any event – no matter whose dignity they trample over – to attack their familiar targets and, if their readers do not like it in sufficient numbers, then like any bully they’ll change the story completely and pretend it didn’t happen. Pathetic isn’t a strong enough word to describe this story.
The print edition of the story had the new angle and didn’t attack Brown in any way: