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Has The Telegraph gone mad or bad?

Screen shot 2010-03-18 at 09.54.15 The Telegraph fills its front page this morning with an extraordinary story about Nadine Dorries allegedly manipulating a friend to stand against Esther Rantzen in order to stop the former That's Life presenter becoming an MP. There's no real evidence for it. No papers, no recorded conversations, no eye witness accounts. Just a crazy theory made out of a few unrelated facts (and tabloid inferences). All in all, a useful boost to Ms Rantzen's flagging Luton South campaign.

I find the story unbelievable. Even if true it's not the story you expect to lead a serious newspaper with a headline font size more appropriate for the announcement of war.

My suspicion is that the explanation for the story lies in a vendetta by the newspaper against Nadine Dorries.

I should declare an interest. I'm a friend of Nadine and have been in contact with her over recent months as week after week The Telegraph runs stories against her. Nadine's big mistake was to write a blog attacking the Barclay Brothers, the owners of The Telegraph.

They first got her blog shut down and since then have run story after story against her.

I've had a bit of The Telegraph's treatment myself. After publishing a survey that said 56% of Tory members thought The Telegraph's coverage of the Conservative Party was getting worse I was told that I'd never be invited to write for the newspaper again.  And I haven't.

The Telegraph was once a great newspaper. It now chooses stories that serve its owners' desire for vengeance rather than its readers.

Tim Montgomerie


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