It was not the Daily Mail wot won the Stephen Lawrence case

The newspaper's triumphalism undermines the tireless efforts of those who fought to keep the case at

Doreen Lawrence explained it. Yesterday was not a day for celebration at the guilty verdicts for David Norris and Gary Dobson for killing her son. There is some sense of justice in the conviction of these two racist murderers, but Stephen Lawrence remains dead, and others who took part in his killing still walk the streets.

Against that tone of sombre reflection came the rather jarring triumphalism of the Daily Mail, delighted in yesterday's verdicts and calling it "The Mail's Victory". The Mail did more than many other newspapers to fight for the Lawrences and to uncover the truth, but there seemed a slight edge to their coverage, as if it was vindication of the famous MURDERERS splash after all these years. I am not so sure it was.

Back in 1997, the Mail labelled the five suspects as murderers -- "if we are wrong, let them sue us", the front page said. It's been analysed to death down the years, but for me, I still don't see it as a journalistic triumph, as courageous, as brave, or all those other things people say it was. For me, it's the same kind of attitude that has seen people's lives wrecked since -- the certainty of guilt leading to false accusations. But I think most journalists disagree with me.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the MURDERERS front page, the Mail has every right to be pleased with its efforts to help in giving the case maximum publicity. But there was something about the coverage that seemed slightly at odds with the reality of the day. The more I saw the Lawrences, still broken people after all these years, the more strange the video statement from Mail editor Paul Dacre seemed in comparison. There was a whiff of myth-making, of history being written. It was the Daily Mail wot won it. Without that front page, there wouldn't have been justice for the Lawrences.

That's how the story goes, but is it right? I don't know and I don't think anyone knows. It's certainly an inviting narrative to buy into for those of us who believe in the power of journalism or the tabloid newspaper as a force for fairness rather than unfairness. But as much as I would like it to be true, I think it's only part of the story. It's simple to look back and see the front page, then attribute everything that came afterwards to it, but maybe it was just a factor, rather than the defining factor.

There were many, many other people who did everything in their power to keep the Lawrence case at the top of the political agenda. It is perhaps somewhat disrespectful to them to imagine that one newspaper front page was worth more than all of their tireless efforts over 18 years.

So let's return to the Lawrences themselves, ordinary people who have been forced through horrific circumstances to put their grief into the public domain, to share those private thoughts of losing a son. The key to understanding the impact of that crime is in their words and deeds. Yes, two men are in jail, but as Doreen and Neville Lawrence said yesterday, that does not mean the end -- other perpetrators of that disgusting crime still walk free.

There's no right or wrong way to deal with grief, but despite all the setbacks, the stench of corruption and the seemingly hopeless task, the Lawrences never gave up. Never. They only cared about achieving justice, which could and would never bring back their son, but which could bring some kind of peace. No, it is not a time for celebration: Stephen Lawrence is still in a grave rather than being the man he should have been. But perhaps there is hope, after all.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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The SNP thinks it knows how to kill hard Brexit

The Supreme Court ruled MPs must have a say in triggering Article 50. But the opposition must unite to succeed. 

For a few minutes on Tuesday morning, the crowd in the Supreme Court listened as the verdict was read out. Parliament must have the right to authorise the triggering of Article 50. The devolved nations would not get a veto. 

There was a moment of silence. And then the opponents of hard Brexit hit the phones. 

For the Scottish government, the pro-Remain members of the Welsh Assembly and Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, the victory was bittersweet. 

The ruling prompted Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to ask: “Is it better that we take our future into our own hands?”

Ever the pragmatist, though, Sturgeon has simultaneously released her Westminster attack dogs. 

Within minutes of the ruling, the SNP had vowed to put forward 50 amendments (see what they did there) to UK government legislation before Article 50 is enacted. 

This includes the demand for a Brexit white paper – shared by MPs from all parties – to a clause designed to prevent the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation rules if a deal is not agreed. 

But with Labour planning to approve the triggering of Article 50, can the SNP cause havoc with the government’s plans, or will it simply be a chorus of disapproval in the rest of Parliament’s ear?

The SNP can expect some support. Individual SNP MPs have already successfully worked with Labour MPs on issues such as benefit cuts. Pro-Remain Labour backbenchers opposed to Article 50 will not rule out “holding hands with the devil to cross the bridge”, as one insider put it. The sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas, will consider backing SNP amendments she agrees with as well as tabling her own. 

But meanwhile, other opposition parties are seeking their own amendments. Jeremy Corbyn said Labour will seek amendments to stop the Conservatives turning the UK “into a bargain basement tax haven” and is demanding tariff-free access to the EU. 

Separately, the Liberal Democrats are seeking three main amendments – single market membership, rights for EU nationals and a referendum on the deal, which is a “red line”.

Meanwhile, pro-Remain Tory backbenchers are watching their leadership closely to decide how far to stray from the party line. 

But if the Article 50 ruling has woken Parliament up, the initial reaction has been chaotic rather than collaborative. Despite the Lib Dems’ position as the most UK-wide anti-Brexit voice, neither the SNP nor Labour managed to co-ordinate with them. 

Indeed, the Lib Dems look set to vote against Labour’s tariff-free amendment on the grounds it is not good enough, while expecting Labour to vote against their demand of membership of the single market. 

The question for all opposition parties is whether they can find enough amendments to agree on to force the government onto the defensive. Otherwise, this defeat for the government is hardly a defeat at all. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.