Next month, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, editor for the past 21 years of the Daily Mail, and editor in chief at the Rothermere press, will celebrate his 65th birthday. In addition to this milestone, the Vagina Monologue will also enjoy the start of an extension to his contract, something revealed by the fourth Viscount Rothermere to Tatler magazine recently.
Course I'm not f***ing retiring, c***
Dacre has been on a one-year rolling contract for some years now, which provides him with remuneration which has of late been well north of £1 million a year (last year’s wad was around £1.79 million). Whether this includes his London flat, to which he is chauffeured before the start of the working week, and from which he is then driven back to his family home at the end of it, is not known.
Speculation was rife earlier in the year that Dacre – who is known by Private Eye magazine as “The Robert Mugabe of Fleet Street” – would either retire, or be caused to retire, next month, with the editor’s chair being given to one of a number of likely contenders, these being thought to include the Mail On Sunday’s Geordie Grieg, and Tony Gallagher of the Maily Telegraph.
And, after events of the past few days, Rothermere and many of his senior staff may be wondering if they made the right decision: following the crude and hypocritical hatchet job on Mil The Younger on Saturday, not only has the subject of the attack kicked back against Dacre’s decision (the Miliband smear could not have been published without his approval), but many others have joined in the condemnation.
As Roy Greenslade has noted today at the deeply subversive Guardian, the criticism aimed at Dacre has come not just from Labour and Lib Dems, but several Tories, including Young Dave, “Tarzan” Heseltine, John Moore, George Eustice and Francis Maude. Many pundits are breaching the unspoken rule of press Omerta and openly passing adverse comment. And the Mail’s own commenters are unhappy.
Indeed, even as Dacre sends yet another pundit over the top – today has been the turn of Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover – the readers are increasingly tiring of this obsession. Added to that is the mystery over why Dacre’s own father, who would have under normal circumstances been conscripted into the armed forces in 1943, did not serve his country as Ralph Miliband did.
There is talk of targeting the Daily Mail’s advertisers, and the location of Dacre’s London pad is being circulated (the irony being that his paper loves to splash photos of its’ targets houses to make their location easy to find, and hands out contact details of some hate figures). If the backlash continues, Dacre may have to do the previously unthinkable – and apologise. He would then be damaged goods.
He should have retired. And, who knows, he may yet do so, but under duress.