If a Labour government had ever come up with a strategic defence review at the centre of which was the idea of aircraft carriers without planes to fly from them, we would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever have heard the end of it.
The cartoonists would live off it for months; the headline writers would go into orgiastic delight; the Sun would dig out the old front pages of Neil Kinnock announcing his ‘Surrender’ to whatever enemy wanted to come in and take over; every retired general in the land would wander onto the telly sofas to say their fears about Labour not being trustworthy on defence had been borne out. And a few serving ones would be wining, whining and dining the country’s massed ranks of defence correspondents to make sure the views of ‘senior military sources’ were bombarding the front pages and the airwaves. It would be one of the defining moments, a symbols, of our time.
But with most of the media so determined to blow their loving kisses up the backsides of any top Tory, instead we are reading how brave and bold and successful defence secretary Liam Fox was to leak a letter warning against the Treasury’s even more zealous cuts; how the top brass can live with the settlement; and how David Cameron ‘played a blinder’ in sorting it all out.
The Cold War may be over. But Pravda style journalism remains all around us.