Who are the Times journalists behind the constant attacks on Nigel Farage and UKIP? Perhaps it will not surprise you to know that most have family or personal connections to the Conservative Party and that the majority are from immensely privileged backgrounds that have enabled them to prosper as part of the “chumocracy” run by David Cameron. Here is our rundown of the main players:
Baron Daniel Finkelstein: Privately educated former senior official at Conservative Central Office. A key columnist on the paper known for his particular closeness to Chancellor George Osborne. Recently made a Lord by Osborne and Cameron. He has in the past been embarrassed by claims that he has written speeches for Osborne while simultaneously working as Times chief leader writer.
According to the Spectator in September 2013, “what Danny writes today George thinks tomorrow”. He was once overheard on a train boasting to his mother on his mobile about writing Osborne’s conference speech. George Osborne also admitted at the Leveson inquiry that the journalist helped him with "one-liners" for his speeches and once reportedly remarked that he spoke to Mr Finkelstein more often than he did to his wife. Furthermore, Danny Finkelstein was named by David Cameron as one of the six journalists whom he sees “so frequently” that he could not be expected to list the meetings, on account of their sheer volume.
Matthew Parris: Privately educated former Conservative MP whose partner Julian Glover worked as a speechwriter for Cameron and now works as an adviser to Conservative Cabinet minister Patrick McCloughlin, who is coincidentally the MP who took over the seat of Mr Parris when he stood down from Parliament. Parris makes frequent and virulent attacks on UKIP for example in June 2013 he wrote an article for the Spectator article entitled “Why UKIP is a party of extremists” and another for The Times in October 18 2013 called “England loves winners, so UKIP must lose”.
Alice Thomson: Privately educated close friend of David Cameron. During the Leveson Inquiry David Cameron said that: "There's a small number of journalists who are close friends of mine and who I see so frequently that I have not included them systematically in these lists, namely Daniel Finkelstein, Alice Thomson...These are people I see very regularly and I'm never going to remember to tell my office every time I see them."
Alice Thomson is also the wife of former Tory staffer Edward Heathcoat-Amory who is the nephew of former Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory who lost his seat in the 2010 general election and blames UKIP for his political demise.
The fact that he put a bill for manure on his taxpayer-funded expenses may have had more to do with him losing his seat. The Telegraph in its extensive coverage of the expenses scandal reported that David Heathcoat-Amory’s gardener used hundreds of sacks of horse manure, which based on the receipts they estimated to number 550, before the MP then submitted the receipts to Parliament. Also from 2004 to 2009 he claimed thousands of pounds to maintain his garden, including services like mowing and watering.
Hugo Rifkind: Privately educated son of pro-EU Tory former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind. Known for his repeated jibes against UKIP in columns in both The Times and The Spectator. Joined the Times as its gossip columnist in 2005.
Rachel Sylvester: Privately educated close confidante of Britain’s most influential active Europhile, Peter Mandelson. Accompanied Mandelson on a trip to Disney in America during his work planning the disastrous Millennium Exhibition. Later denied allegations of tipping Mandelson off about revelations concerning him in a biography by the respected political journalist Paul Routledge. An advanced proof of Routledge’s book was mistakenly delivered to Sylvester’s Westminster office and was later passed on to him with the envelope containing it having been opened.
Tim Montgomerie: Former editor of Conservative Home website and former chief of staff for Iain Duncan Smith. Was Times comment editor until last month, remains a columnist on the paper. Less overtly hostile to UKIP than the others but went into hyperactive “tweeting” mode to promote the latest outrageous attack on Nigel Farage.
Alexi Mostrous: Privately educated news reporter, formerly of the Guardian. Spearheaded the latest wave of attacks on Nigel Farage by the Times.