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Why Dirty Des is flirting with Farage
Ukip and the press, Issue 1381
richard desmond 2.jpg
PEER PRESSURE: Richard Desmond, who is tempted to give his papers’ backing to Ukip… and is said to long for a peerage. Lord Dirty of Des, anyone?
UKIP representatives visited the offices of Express newspapers last week to glad-hand various senior editorial figures, in the hope that their titles will come out in support of Nigel Farage and his ramshackle crew ahead of next year’s election (Hugh Whittow on the Daily Express seems up for it; Martin Townsend on the Sunday less so).

Proprietor Richard Desmond is particularly keen on the idea, which he sees as his best remaining chance of bagging the peerage he so craves and joining newly-appointed Express deputy chairman Lord Stevens on the red benches under the Faragist whip next year. The Ukip link was the sole reason for the re-recruitment of the aged Stevens, who has been given an enormous corner office at Express HQ, but very little to do in it.

Moving account
There remain, however, aspects of Ukip Desmond may find it difficult to reconcile with his own beliefs. Two years ago he gave a moving account to the Jewish Chronicle of his own grandparents’ migration from Ukraine to East London in the 1900s, and of a pilgrimage he had undertaken to Auschwitz with his son Robert which helped him to understand “the atrocity and the logistics necessary for murder on such an unprecedented scale. We thought about the mentality required to bring this about and the millions who needed to collude for it to happen.”

If he does throw his lot in with Ukip, Desmond will find himself lining up alongside the party’s partners in the European parliament, including Robert Iwaszkiewicz of the Polish Congress of the New Right, whose leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke has claimed that the real number of Jews killed in the death camps was a quarter of the accepted total. Interviewed by the same Jewish Chronicle following the Ukip link-up in October, Korwin-Mikke criticised what he called “the holocaust industry” and claimed that “Jews are our worst enemies, because they are very talented communists.” While the party has hit back by pointing to its own “Ukip friends of Israel” group, the Chronicle concluded after a meeting last week that they were an “unpalatable” lot.

There may yet be an unlikely outcome to all this. While David Cameron desperately tries to schmooze Desmond – the PM turned up to make a speech at a gala dinner for his charity Norwood last month and posed for selfies with him and his glowing wife Joy – the Express boss has confided in senior lieutenants that if he decides against Ukip he is seriously considering a strong pro-semitic statement and backing Ed Miliband instead.

More top stories in the latest issue:

CURIOUS COVERAGE…
As Clodagh Hartley is cleared of paying public officials, the Sun calls her a “Top reporter” – not how she’s described her unhappy time at the paper.

… AND A CURIOUS COINCIDENCE
How the Sun’s decision to label ex-contributor Russell Brand a hypocrite follows a legal spat in which it had to pay him ‘substantial damages’.

TONGUE-TIED PRESCOTT
Well-paid Sunday Mirror columnist John Prescott, usually so vociferous about press failings, has nowt to say about events at his current employer.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM THE MAIL
Diarist James Hughes-Onslow is sacked after complaining too loudly about the Mail spiking his story following a threat from Labour’s Emily Thornberry.

THE MELLOR-ON-SUNDAY
The foul-mouthed tirade of ex-Tory MP turned Mail on Sunday music critic David Mellor proves to be music to the ears of the rival Daily Mail.

HEAVEN SCENT OPPORTUNITY
Mail columnist Sarah Vine gives a handy pre-Christmas namecheck to Chanel – as does the beauty website Get the Gloss (co-founder: er, S. Vine).

WILL IT ALL BE OVER BY CHRISTMAS?
There’s widespread belief at the Telegraph that ‘chief content officer’ Jason Seiken and his wrecking ball will both be gone by Christmas.

To read all these stories in full, you can buy the latest edition of Private Eye - or subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale:
23rd December 2014.
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For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.
Next issue on sale: 23rd December 2014.

Private Eye Issue 1380
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