Water cannon block is not a ‘blow to Boris Johnson’ but a blessing for protesters

Evgeny Lebedev's Evening Standard spins the news for his friend, the London mayor


One of the great things about owning newspapers is the way you can use them to support your friends.

If they happen to be politicians, you can even use your influence on the public to influence public policy.

In the end, isn’t that what friendship is all about?

Last night’s London Evening Standard is a case in point. The front page of the freesheet declares:


Boris water cannon Standard 15 7 15

This pulls off an impressive combo of the personality-centric and weird-angle tendencies in the Tory press.

Surely ‘blow for law and order’ would have made more sense? Or, if we depart from the Standard’s worldview and visit the real one, ‘blessing for protesters, police and public’ would be even better (if a bit long).

(The online story plays it straight with: ‘Theresa May blocks mayor’s bid to deploy water cannon on London’s streets’.)

After all, water cannons are the tool of choice for repressive regimes that hope to save bullets.

They are a plain danger to protesters and the public (and the right to protest itself), and present police officers with the prospect of lawsuits and disciplinary action if the cannons kill or injure someone.

So why is the front page all about Boris Johnson?

Perhaps it has something to do with Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev’s close personal friendship with the mayor of London.

After all, Lebedev and Johnson have jointly promoted several of the paper’s photo-op campaigns, and even went on holiday together to Peruga, Italy, in October last year. How cosy!

Not since the Standard’s ‘London backlash over Ed’s non-doms attack’ has the paper so brazenly spun the day’s events in its own interests.

(That ‘backlash’ seems to have fizzled now abolishing non-doms is Tory policy…)

Still, it must be nice having a Russian oligarch on your side and in your corner!

Perhaps Lebedev could purchase the (now useless) £300,000 water cannons from the Met as a gift to Londoners, if only to save his mayor’s bacon? Just a thought.

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

Read more: 

‘Destroy the Labour party’: Telegraph tells readers to sign up and vote Jeremy Corbyn

Tory press reads like ‘The Adventures of David Cameron (and friends)’

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