The Daily Mail is nothing if not predictable. After Nick Clegg made a good impression during the first party leader TV debate Mail writer en masse set about doing their best to smear him – as if they had received orders from on high that they just had to work in some kind of attack even if politics was not their normal topic. To a lesser extent Rory Weal has become a victim of the same kind of attack, which is incredible really given that he is a 16-year-old boy and gave a speech that only lasted a few minutes.
What has been unpleasant is not that Daily Mail writers have taken the time to engage with Rory Weal, but the way in which they have resorted to gross distortions in order to do so. First Melanie Phillips went on a standard rant based on a version of Rory Weal’s family life that existed in her own mind, then others joined in, all claiming that this poor unfortunate Rory Weal was actually quite wealthy and privileged – at least before his family lost everything. This was something that Rory Weal hadn’t hidden, and his point was that any family, irrespective of how secure they might seem, may one day need the safety net afforded by the welfare state. All pretty simplistic stuff.
Yet Amanda Platell still makes the same, dishonest and silly argument in her column today:
Labour found a new hero, Benefits Boy. Sixteen-year-old Rory Weal captivated conference when he attacked the Tories’ benefits reforms.
He said the welfare system had saved his life. It turns out he’s a privately-educated aspiring actor whose father’s a property tycoon. He lives with his mother in a £300,000 house and has ambitions to be Prime Minister.
So, an actor and a fibber with a love of the good life — the perfect heir to Blair.
But the point is, Amanda, that his family did lose everything and needed to be rescued by the welfare state. Wealth before or after this event is completely irrelevant. Calling him a ‘fibber’ is not only dishonest, but it is in itself a lie.
The Daily Mail and its army of writers can always be relied to smear anyone who dares criticise the Conservative world-view; just once it might be nice if the smears were at least factually accurate.