In a rambling letter book ended by exhortations for Lewes to stand up and defend the Daily Mail (July 22), Mary Louisa Jenkins manages to misquote Tom Paine’s “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression” - substituting instead the word “opposition.”
It’s a revealing slip, since an historical case citing any oppression of the Daily Mail would be hard to muster. Meanwhile, in the middle of the letter a lurch into more recent history, with a completely random reference to Nixon who “would have liked a bit less pilfering...”, left me wondering whether she meant Richard (over Watergate) or Matt Nixon, the recently disgraced features editor of The Sun , reportedly sacked over phone hacking.
Perhaps another quote from Thomas Paine would be more appropriate for the Daily Mail, a paper which incidentally featured at the top of Operation Motorman’s “What price privacy?” report into the trade in illegally obtaining confidential information. (A report whose findings were mentioned by Mrs Jenkins, bizarrely in support of the Mail.)
“Human nature is not of itself vicious” suggests the only paper in this country which once supported the Nazi party, and which has never lost the ability to pander to man’s worst instincts, would have never received the blessing of Tom Paine.
Sean Blake, The Cloisters, Newhaven