THEM AND US
A political speech
Ladies and er… Gentlemen. I would like to talk to you for a moment about the current er… situation. Never before has this country faced such a crisis point and what is needed is courage and honesty. Should we fail to deal with the situation firmly, the consequences could be er… absolutely disastrous for us all. It is at moments such as this that the true character of a nation shines through, but I seriously believe that the right action taken now will resolve the problems that have faced us so menacingly. (Applause) What we must all realize is that the way ahead is hard, and sacrifices must be made, but on no account and in no circumstances must our resolve be shaken. It is quite obvious that those who do not firmly believe, as I do, that this is so, are mistaken. Were we to act as they suggest, we would face a situation from which we might never recover, and this must not be allowed to happen. (Applause) I sincerely hope that you will join with me in saying �Yes� to what I am proposing, because saying �No� would mean not only that I was defeated, but also that I was wrong. Thank you.
Interview with Nigel Dempster
I = Interviewer
D = Nigel Dempster
I You�re by far Britain�s best-known and most widely read gossip columnist. Is there a serious purpose in what you write in the Daily Mail or are you chiefly concerned simply to entertain your readers?
D We�re basically concerned with informing our readers. Obviously if we entertain them at the same time that�s an added bonus. But information is why people buy newspapers, because they want to find what�s going on in places where they cannot be and they rely on me and my staff and my colleagues in the Daily Mail to bring them what actually happens in places of power and privilege, places where they would like to be but obviously can never get inside.
I Do most of the people whose names appear in the Mail Diary spend their time trying to avoid getting their names in the Diary or are there more people who are actually on the telephone to you trying to get you to print their names in the Mail Diary?
D The very nature of a gossip column is that people do not enjoy featuring in it because when we write a story it is not to the subject�s advantage usually, because they�ve done something wrong, something silly, something sexual, financial mis-demeanours, something along that line or treated someone very badly like a member of their staff and they don�t enjoy being in the Daily Mail Diary. Obviously there are people who�d like to get into gossip columns � we�re not the only gossip column � those people can find somewhere like the Express, or other newspapers, which don�t mind so much what they write about, or who they write about. We take the view that those who want to get in, don�t, and those who don�t want to get in, certainly do.
I Is gossip something people in Britain seem to enjoy more than people in other countries, as far as you can tell, is goss… is there a special taste for gossip in Britain?
D You�ve got to have the basic ingredient, which is a homogenous society, and of course we�ve all lived cheek by jowl with each other for nine hundred years, more or less, and therefore we all know who we are, whether it�s the rich man in his castle or the poor man at his gate. We all understand who the Duke of Marlborough is, or what he represents, even though we don�t know the Duke of Marlborough. And therefore we all have an interest in each other, because we can equate to any story, we can equate to stories about people who live at one end of the country, even though we live at the other end, which you can�t do in vast places like America. Also we�ve got a very strictly structured class system, which starts with the Monarchy at the top and goes all the way down to the lower classes at the bottom. And everyone within that class system is totally aware of where they are on that class ladder, and of course they want to climb, and to climb they need to know who�s above them and who�s below them.
I The Royal Family is very widely featured in the press in Britain. There seem to be stories about them in the British newspapers, especially stories about the younger and more glamorous members of the Royal Family, every day. How do you go about finding new information out about the Royals?
D There are, of course, about thirty-five members of the Royal Family if you take the oldest, the great Queen Mother, down to the youngest. And all of them are doing something every day, and if they�re not, they should be. And it�s very easy to find out stories because the people around them tend to tell you what�s happening, so therefore you�ve got a filter of information coming all the way through. The Royal Family have got many staff, many people around them, from detectives, from household staff, who do gossip wherever they have time off, and stories do tend to come out. Therefore, there is a preponderance of stories about the Royal Family, and they tend usually to be highly accurate. And of course, we tend to find them amusing because they live rich and gilded lives, and they have a certain duty to the British public because the British public pays them nearly six million pounds a year reimbursing their expenses, they have a certain duty to be exposed to the British public via the Press.
I You often see much more outrageous and explicit stories about the Royal Family in foreign newspapers and magazines. Do you have any particularly extreme examples of inaccurate reporting of the Royal Family by foreign journalists?
D All reporting of the Royal Family by foreign journalists is inaccurate, and in fact it�s a total invention. France Dimanche, which is a Sunday newspaper in France, based in Paris, has a gossip column which is one hundred per cent invention. And the Queen, who reads French, of course, extrememly well, and is fluent in French, has great fun reading it out to her family, because, in France Dimanche over a ten-year period, she worked out that she had abdicated thirty-two times, she�d had cancer surgery on both her breasts four hundred and thirty-two times, her mother had been banished to Scotland twenty-eight times, Lord Snowdon … etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. There is an amusement value as long as you start with the initial presumption that nothing is… is true.