The Radio 4 Today programme of 7 February ran with what had been the lead political story in the Mail stable for days. Alastair Campbell was back and up to his old tricks. He was trying to smear a Tory statesman. He was ordering new Labour MPs to use the Freedom of Information Act to dig out embarrassing information about Michael Howard.
Peter Mandelson and the Labour MP Fraser Kemp were interrogated, but at no point did listeners learn exactly what the fuss was about. Labour was throwing dirt at the Tories, they were told. But what exactly was this dirt?
Perhaps Today's editors thought it would be tasteless--anti-Semitic, even--to mention John Haase, Simon Bakerman and the London Metropolitan Police inquiry into a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. They weren't alone. You could twiddle the dial for the rest of the day without finding a news broadcast that discussed Haase and Bakerman. Instead, you would have heard Howard's announcement that a Conservative government would scrap the early release of prisoners. "Nothing," he declared, "does more to undermine confidence in our criminal justice system than victims seeing offenders walk free from prison having served as little as half their sentence."
You could have switched off the radio and turned to that morning's Mail and found it in a state of slobbering …