William Rees Mogg in today’s Times gently castigates the Daily Telegraph undercover operation to trap Lib Dem ministers into indiscreet remarks. It is of course true that the ministers trapped in this way showed a degree of naivety which actually reflects the fact that Lib Dems have never been in power for such a long time that they have had no experience of being of such interest to the media. He concludes thus
There is, however, something wrong. The Daily Telegraph decided to adopt a policy of trapping Lib Dem ministers by a trick — passing off reporters as constituents. They did not do so in pursuit of any major impropriety, but simply in a random search for political copy. I do not think that the old Daily Telegraph would have done that. Nor would it have been tolerated when I set out in journalism. These methods inherently involve deceit. Sometimes deceit is an unavoidable part of a legitimate investigation, but the subject of the investigation must be sufficiently serious to justify methods that inevitably undermine trust.
What surprises me however is what on earth motivated the Daily Telegraph. If the paper honestly thinks it is serving the right wing Conservative cause by undermining the Coalition, it is seriously out of touch with the public mood. If they bring down the Coalition, the Conservatives will most definitely not win any subsequent election. However, if the Coalition survives for the full five years then there will be a better chance that a Conservative party which has shown reasonable restraint during that time might well win a working majority.