The Daily Mail’s talentless and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn has reached many nadirs in his less than distinguished career, but ripping off other hacks’ copy had not been one of them – until today. As the headline declared “When the going gets tough, Clegg clears off”, those who had looked at the Telegraph’s online offering yesterday afternoon may have experienced a sense of déjà vu.
Plagiarism, Guv? It's more than ten letters, innit?!?
Dicky Windbag has not been doing the copy and paste trick, but his subject, and key points, are, shall we say, not original: that Corporal Clegg was absent from the Government front bench when the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, gave the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, had already been given critical coverage by Dan Hodges at the Telegraph.
“The official reason for Nick Clegg’s absence from the Autumn Statement was a pressing engagement in Cornwall” told Hodges, while Littlejohn agreed “Clegg hadn’t forgotten the Autumn Statement, he had just discovered a more pressing engagement, meeting the people in a marginal Lib Dem constituency”. Covering the same ground, but not too closely. And there’s more.
Hodges told that Christopher “No” Hope of the Tel had alleged “[Clegg] has decided he doesn’t want to sit next to David Cameron or George Osborne”. In the Littlejohn retelling, this became “Apparently, Clegg thought it would harm his poll ratings still further if he was seen to be too close to Cameron and Osborne”. Then came news of arguments within the Lib Dems – in both articles.
Hodges noted “As Danny Alexander toured the broadcast studios in a brave attempt to defend the financial settlement from his own cabinet colleagues, word began circulating that [Vince] Cable had ‘erupted’ at him over the detail of the statement. Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, was forced to take to Twitter to deny reports he’d briefed journalists that the settlement did ‘little for his part of the north’”.
Littlejohn concurred: “Further investigations revealed that the Lib Dems had been fighting like rats in a sack. At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, there was an almighty bust-up between Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander. Cable is said to have ‘erupted’ over Desperate Dan’s support for further public spending cuts”.
And while Hodges asks of Clegg “Why did he enter coalition? Is it, as his critics claim, simply because he could? An act of pure personal ambition. The red boxes. The car. The title”, Littlejohn goes for Cable: “if he’d any decency he wouldn’t have accepted Government office and all the pay and perks which go with it ... chauffeur-driven comfort of his taxpayer-funded ministry”.
This may not be plagiarism. But it sure as heck ain’t worth a million quid a year.