Tory press gives Shredded Wheat PM easy ride on ‘pre-resignation’

Imagine if Ed Miliband had likened politics to a breakfast cereal


Shredded chances: Cam no cereal PM

David Cameron blew his chances of re-election last night by saying he’ll step down after a second term he hasn’t even won.

The Prime Minister’s mad promise not to run for a third term before winning his second saw Cameron liken his government to Shredded Wheat.

The bizarre comments, made while showing off his posh kitchen on the BBC, were blasted as ‘arrogant’ by Labour MPs…

This is what a story in the Sun might have looked like if its owner was not backing the Conservative party. Yet for a paper that never misses a chance to jeer and humiliate Ed Miliband, the Sun’s coverage has been the very model of restraint.

This is the paper that yesterday ran a mock-up of a semi-naked Miliband in a rubber ring and armbands outside Downing Street on its front page, and recently ran a cover story, complete with Wallace cartoons, on the voting intentions of TV’s Ant and Dec. (They were anti-Miliband, if you have to ask.)

But instead of jibes about the Shredded Wheat PM anointing his own successors, we have a front page story about extra troops being sent to protect the Falkland Islands from Vladimir Putin, (who has yet to claim the islands as part of Greater Russia, though I wouldn’t put it past him). The PM is relegated to page two, and the Sun says column ignored the news.

The extraordinary remarks by David Cameron, not to say his ridiculous choice of simile, have provoked a sort of deer-in-the-headlights response from the Tory press. The Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail all ran cover stories on the announcement, though neither of the first two found any space on their comment pages for the topic. (The Express ran the story on page two without the Shredded Wheat quote.)

The Mail‘s coverage was actually the best of the bunch, saying the ‘bombshell’ risked undermining Cameron’s authority, and running a thoughtful comment piece by Dominic Sandbrook. In its editorial column, the Mail struck a plaintive tone:

“Coming from a highly intelligent man, it was a remarkably unguarded comment. Whatever possessed David Cameron, less than seven weeks before an election, to fire the starting gun for a Tory leadership contest in the next parliament? […]

“Is it too much to hope that over the coming weeks, Mr Cameron will think before he speaks?”

In other words: “We’re not angry, we’re just disappointed.”

The coverage today lays to rest any denials that a majority of the British press is biased along party lines. Put simply, how do you suppose the Sun would have responded if Ed Miliband had likened political terms to Shredded Wheat?

By contrast, Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, says:

“The Times has it wrong; this is not really the starting gun for a leadership race. It’s just the sound of Cameron shooting himself in the foot.”

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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