Anyone who’s picked up the London Evening Standard in the past few weeks will be painfully aware that it is living up to its nickname “The Evening Boris”. But leaked correspondence seen by Left Futures would suggest that not all at Standard HQ are happy with this.
Last month Darryl Chamberlain drew attention to the shift back towards the pro-Tory editorial line in spite of the “Sorry we lost touch” advertising campaign at the paper’s acquisition by Alexander Lebedev.
Chamberlain made particular reference to the behaviour of political correspondent Peter Dominiczak, saying he had been “faithfully toeing the mayor’s line”. He went on to observe a difference between Dominiczak’s angle and that of City Hall editor Pippa Crerar, then on a break from the paper.
Left Futures has seen a copy of correspondence between Crerar and a concerned Standard reader, who wanted to know if the London daily would be covering the Black Britain Decides mayoral hustings.
The reader was drawing attention to Dominiczak’s biased reporting, and questioning whether the deeply hostile reception Johnson had received at the hustings would be reported.
Crerar implied that she had spoken to Dominiczak, and “[Peter’s] appraisal of the event matches yours – I’m sure his report will reflect that”.
But lo and behold, this is not the spirit of the published article in question, generously titled “Boris Johnson backs calls for new enquiry into Stephen Lawrence murder police”.
The double-page spread on the hustings is avowedly pro-Johnson, leading on his announcement and giving no voice to the criticisms – and booing at his arrival on stage – Johnson received from the audience.
He does not even acknowledge Crerar’s assertion that Black people are “not Boris’s natural constituency – a point I’m sure even his team would concede.”
Revealingly, Crerar defends Dominiczak as “a young journalist working in difficult conditions”. Is she referring to the pro-Johnson line being advocated by the paper’s new editor Sarah Sands?
Could it be a coincidence that, as a senior former Standard journalist told me, Johnson personally intervened to secure the editorship for family-friend Sands when she was being mooted for a move to the Daily Mail?
Today, the Standard’s front page exhibits the most biased coverage of the Ken Livingstone campaign yet, perpetrating the outright lie that the testimonials in Labour’s party election broadcast are those of actors, rather than ordinary Londoners.
When the line is pushed so aggressively, it’s no wonder there is disquiet in the Standard ranks. It’s a shame that Crerar’s optimism about her colleagues’ reporting is catastrophically misplaced.