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Politics of the media: Mail rides to Dave's rescue

What's all this? Those unCamerons from Kensington rising to the rescue of embattled Tory leader David Cameron?

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It's no secret that Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre thinks rather more highly of PM Gordon Brown than he does of David Cameron, but au fin de la jour the Mail is Tory through and through.

At the last PM Question's before the holidays, most of the sketch writers thought that Cameron received a bruising from Gordon's clunking fist -- except the Mail's Quentin Letts.

Letts even defended Cameron from the accusation that his trip to Rwanda was singularly ill-timed as most of his Witney constituency near Oxford was underwater.

Quentin knows a bit about this too, as he regaled Mail readers earlier in the week with his own soggy adventures at his home in Herefordshire.

In particular Letts referred to "the widespread tonking" Dave was receiving "from a fourth estate of editorial sycophants and neo-Con nutters". I thought the latter were mostly at the Mail? He must mean the Daily Telegraph.

Elsewhere, in Wednesday's Mail, the formidable Stephen Glover, not a Dave fan either, mounted a robust defence of Cameron, "Four good reasons the Tories need to stick with Dave", and the leader column even had a few mildly warm words for him, "So is this the beginning of the end for the wunderkind? It needn't be".

So is Gordon Brown's honeymoon with the Mail (which earlier in the week printed some more of his tiresome observations on "courage") over already?

Gordon is beginning to revert to form: nicking the Tories' border patrol idea, intervening in everything that moves, and dusting off the demand for longer periods of detention for terrorist suspects (blatant and unnecessary playing to the gallery in some people's eyes).

None of this will fit well with a Tory paper.

In reality Dacre and his cohorts (should the cohorts be so minded, which I doubt) are going to find it difficult to go easy on Brown just because he's such a tribal Labour politician.

And there seems to be recognition that Cameron, whether they like him or not, is the Tories' best chance, perhaps their only chance, of winning an election.

As Stephen Glover pointed out, there isn't another credible leadership candidate anywhere.

Shadow home secretary David Davis is a solid politician who's refreshingly short on bullshit, but he's hardly likely to grab the centre ground from Labour (and he's lost two leadership elections already).

Ken Clarke has had his chance (and he's too pro-EU for the right wing papers), shadow chancellor George Osborne is even more of a callow toff than Cameron.

So it's Cameron or nothing. Our Dave needs to clean up his act a bit; his worst recent faux pas was not heading for Rwanda (a good idea in itself, it's just that the timing was all wrong), but allowing "David Cameron's Conservatives" to appear on the Ealing Southall by-election material.

As an even more celebrated sketch writer Simon Hoggart wrote in The Guardian, this was alarmingly reminiscent of Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Really clever politicians realise that, from time to time, a period of masterly inactivity is in order because, if they involve themselves in everything, they'll just rack up a string of failures.

But Brown's a man in a hurry and he just can't help himself.

He may find that his media honeymoon runs out of gas rather sooner than he expects.

Politics of media is a regular series of opinion pieces for Brand Republic about the way media shapes politics and vice-versa. Stephen Foster is a partner at The Editorial Partnership and can be contacted at: steve-edco@blueyonder.co.uk.

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