Daily Mail uses Prince Charles’s black spider memos to attack Labour’s Andy Burnham

Burnham is in the sights of the Tory press. Any excuse to bash him will do


Alongside its story on the latest release of ‘black spider memos’ from Prince Charles to ministers, the Daily Mail has a second story, which begins:

“Andy Burnham, the left-wing frontrunner to be next Labour leader, risked ridicule last night after the release of a letter he wrote to Prince Charles with a cringeingly unctuous sign-off.

In a handwritten ending to the typed letter, the former health secretary describes himself as ‘Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant’.”

(Burnham’s sign-off was also covered by the Guardian and BBC, but not as the top line of a separate story, or with this editorial slant.)

Two things spring to mind. First, and as the Mail story even mentions, this ‘cringeingly unctuous sign-off’ is actually the standard way to address the Prince, according to Debrett’s British social etiquette.

This may sound stuffy and reverential, but since when did the Mail have a problem with that? This is the paper that complains when the prime minister of Australia declines to curtsey for the Queen.

And which just over a week ago attacked Labour MP Richard Burgon for stating his opposition to monarchy before taking his parliamentary oath.

Imagine what it would have said if Burnham had been too casual.

Second, why out of the 17 memos released today did the Mail seize on one written by Andy Burnham? His fellow Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper also replied to the Prince, but as the paper notes, she signed off with ‘yours sincerely’.

It appears as though the Mail hoped to embarrass Burnham, either for a feckless raid of Debrett’s when addressing a royal or for being too deferential in the eyes of his left-wing supporters.

Burnham has already filled the place of Ed Miliband as Tory press punching bag, and judging by the press campaign against the former Labour leader things are likely to get worse.

The truth is, all you need to do to ‘risk ridicule’ in the eyes of the Tory press is to be considered left-wing and run for Labour leader.

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

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8 Responses to “Daily Mail uses Prince Charles’s black spider memos to attack Labour’s Andy Burnham”

  1. Cole

    How long before Burnham is the ‘most dangerous man in Britain or has a dad who ‘hates Britain’?

  2. AlanGiles

    It is the standard ettiquette in the same way you address the Archbishop of Canterbury as “Your Grace”. It would suggest that the Mail finds a Burnham leadership the most frightening scenario, as Kendall, Cooper and Creagh don’t seem to upset them so much.

    But it is hypocritical of the Mail to imply fawning when you read toadying articles about Cliff Richard and various British showbiz types in that paper

  3. Roger Day

    He’s still a centre right politician at odds with many Labour members and voters who are centre left

  4. treborc

    Burnham is left wing, not in my book he is a pure Blair Progress party member. How about Prince Charles being asked to stand as labour leader, he is a right of center, chap is he not.

  5. DanielLHancock

    nowRead this leftfootforward … Here’s a Blog


  6. swat

    I suppose to some Press Barons like Murdoch and Northcliffe and the Barclay Bros, Genghis Khan was a bit left wing.

  7. Patrick Nelson

    The more the Tory press attack Andy Burnham the fonder of him I get and as for “Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant’.” I like it. It has shades of Camelot.

  8. Patrick Nelson

    Depends on which subject and he certainly isn’t on the same hymn sheet as the CaMorons.

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