Politicians are generally expected to hold more or less consistent views, at least over the course of years rather than decades. It would seem strange, for instance, if Ed Balls announced that he was going to reintroduce grammar schools after a decade of Labour policy that has been against them.

Newspapers, particularly the properly partisan ones, have no such restrictions – indeed they make a point of sending their opinions down the memory hole every evening so they can be outraged afresh over breakfast.

The Daily Mail’s hysterical coverage of Harriet Harman’s proposal for a general equality duty is a case in point. The opening sentence of the article declares that Labour has ended their “decade-long truce” in the class war.

Decade-long? Really? A quick Google search reveals that in 2008, the Daily Mail referred to Labour starting or continuing the class war on 17 January (comprehensive schools); 9 March (attacks on David Cameron); 11 March (taxation); 9, 10, 16, 17, 19 & 22 May (Crewe by-election); 20 June (Gordon Brown); 18 & 28 July (comprehensive schools again); 16 October (teachers); 17 October (fox hunting); and 2 November (interview with John Prescott).

Once upon a time, people joined the French Foreign Legion to forget. Now, all you need to do is work for a partisan newspaper.

Journalism and amnesia
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