With wearying predictability The Independent splashes today on “10 Myths about the EU Treaty” – and prints a rebuttal of those eurosceptic “myths” on page three.
They looked curiously familiar to me. And then I figured out why. The piece is an almost word-for-word reprint of a Foreign Office briefing note – but without any attribution that that is the source.
Have a look at this thing, circulated by the FCO which Open Europe obtained a copy of.
And then read the Indie piece. They are almost exactly the same. (Rather like the relationship between the “new” treaty and the re rejected constitution, you might say…) When we called for comment on this, the editor was not available for comment.
Perhaps you thought the idea of newspapers printing word-for-word what the Government tells them to belonged to a banana republic? Think again.
Personally, I think this is particularly sad coming from The Independent – which was launched on a wave of such high mindedness that it didn’t even have an editorial line.
Times are hard at the Indie, but this is ridiculous. For an “internationalist” paper they have made some other rather odd decisions in recent times – like not having a full time Brussels correspondent anymore. The paper seems to have decided that it loves the EU, but wouldn’t want to spoil the romance by finding out anything nasty about it.
Oh well. As one of their poor hacks pointed out to me the other day – at least producing a “viewspaper” is cheap.
Perhaps it’s time to change the name though. Copy of the Daily Sock Puppet anyone?
Neil O’Brien is director of Open Europe