Sunday, March 07, 2010

Beneath Contempt

I once bumped into Michael Foot. He was leaving the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1983 Labour Party Conference one late evening to take his dog for a walk. I was on my way in to join the throng at the hotel bar. Brief pleasantries were exchanged, though I never spoke to him again. I was reminded of his willingness to chat amiably to complete strangers when his death was announced last Wednesday.
Charles Moore, on the other hand, is an individual I've never met, nor would I wish to. Moore pens his "thoughts" for the Telegraph, or, as the blurb on his webpage gushes ( ): "Charles Moore covers politics with the wisdom and insight that come from having edited The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator."
Moore's take on the tributes paid to Foot reveal all you need to know about the character ( ).
Citing the discredited ex-Soviet agent Oleg Gordievsky, Moore relates the claim that officials from the KGB would visit Tribune's offices when Foot was the paper's editor, & leave £10 notes (£250 in today's terms) in Foot's jacket. Even if this claim is true, it clearly didn't affect the line Tribune took during that period, something that Moore is clearly aware of as he frantically attempts to row back from the point where he could declare Foot's Soviet allegiance:
"It is important to understand that Foot would not have known that he was considered an agent. That was an internal classification of the KGB -- a scalp for the bureaucracy. There is no evidence that he passed on state secrets. He probably considered that he was simply keeping the Soviet Union well informed in the interests of peace.
"It is not clear why Foot took the cash, but he probably did not blow it on himself. Most likely he used it to pay petty bills for Tribune, accepting the tainted money because he thought it was all in a good cause. You could not say he was a Communist traitor."
Moore goes in for the classic nudge-nudge smear tactic with this third-rate Oxbridge scrawl, making his claim all the more despicable. There is, of course, the added factor that the dead can't sue. I daresay that if Foot did indeed pocket the money, he would have thought to himself, more fool them, I'll use this for the paper; an example of putting "tainted money" into a paper which wasn't afraid to condemn Stalinism.
Moore is said to be a devout Catholic. That being the case, he'll be familiar with the Biblical phrase about being judged by the company you keep. Moore was an enthusiastic supporter of the Pinochet regime in Chile & campaigned for his release when he was arrested in Britain ten years ago. Indeed, such was the butcher's gratitude to Moore that he sent him a Christmas card every year until his death in December 2006 ( ).
When it comes to journalistic integrity, Moore is merely an upmarket version of Kelvin MacKenzie.

No comments: