Crikey’s Westminister correspondent Martin Suiteach is not impressed with the way the Daily Mail has conducted itself since the Queen Mum’s death.

The Daily Mail, that well known organ of tolerance and reason – not, has been apoplectic at what it sees as the snub of the century to the royal family by the BBC when it announced the news of the Queen mum’s death.

The crime? Well it would seem that veteran journalist Peter Sissons, on duty when the event everyone has been planning for finally arrived, was not wearing a black tie when he went on camera to send the nation into grief.

Now to put this in perspective, he wasn’t exactly wearing shorts and a loud Hawaiian shirt. Sissons was wearing a sober – some would say dapper – burgundy tie and grey suit as he announced the news that the old dear had finally popped her clogs. This was on the order of his superiors who decreed black tie would be required for the funeral broadcast only.

He was also accused of being intrusive while interviewing some lady of the chamber pot, or whatever they call the entourage of hangers-on that follow the members of this abominable family around.

It turns out her ladyship let slip she had been at granny’s bedside as she slipped away and Sissons, a man with 40 years experience, asked he who else was present and what the final moments were like.

She refused to go into detail, so Sissons pressed her and she baulked again.

Insensitive? Possibly, but could you imagine the dressing down he would have got from the editors if he hadn’t asked?

Prince Charles then weighed in and let it be known he thought the BBC’s coverage was “lamentable” and then gave a recorded interview to the rival ITV network as if to make his point.

Taking its cue, the Daily Mail exploded. It crucified the BBC, which it thinks is Labour leaning anyway, and accused it of disgracing a venerable British institution – this could have been either the monarchy or the Queen mum, hard to tell either way.

Of course, on the front and inside pages of the same rag were acres of print about the final moments. It could also have been miffed at the fact that no-one was rushing to buy the paper so readers could score the special 32 page commemorative magazine the paper had sitting in a warehouse. No hypocrisy there then…

To give Sissons his due, he defended himself and in a Wednesday night news bulletin wore a nice blue and white striped number to stick two fingers up at the Mail.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Crikey had nothing against the Queen mum as such, indeed we have a columnist older than she, but it’s time a few facts were put forward to cut through this mist of sentimental crap that is drifting around the country that she was a quaint old lady who never did anyone any harm.

The old dear was in favour of appeasing Hitler. When the then PM Neville Chamberlain returned from his talks with old Adolf in 1938, the Queen (as she was then) stood out on the balcony of Buck Palace with him as a mark of approval. It doesn’t sound like much, but how many other leaders can you remember standing there with the family?

She was also anti socialist, xenophobic, pro-Thatcher and lived off a £4 million overdraft funded by the taxpayer.

Now that we’ve got that off our chest, and in the interests of balanced reporting, I think it’s only fair that Royal lovers should be made aware of a special opportunity to commemorate the life of Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

You can plant a special Queen Mother rosebush in your garden and remember her fondly every spring as it blooms. All you need to do is collect 20 differently numbered daily tokens from an English national newspaper.

The paper? The Daily Mail.

Peter Fray

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