Richard Branson has overturned his Virgin Trains stooges’ decision to stop selling the Daily Mail, instantly pouring cold water over accusations that the billionaire who sued the NHS might be too “moralistic”.
But mounting the moral high horse based on employee discomfort with Paul Dacre’s editorial position on immigration, LGBT rights and unemployment wasn’t Branson’s only worry. He feared it could also be seen as censorship to throw in the towel on flogging a paper the firm now only shifts 70-odd copies of a day – partly due to trendy folk working out how to extract news from digital devices.
Virgin Trains has set a dangerous precedent here. In trying to spin discontinuing an increasingly unfashionable publication into a PR move that would have only been universally toasted in a country that at least didn’t crown a Made in Chelsea star as a jungle monarch, it’s armed us all with the censorship argument should we ever need to save anything else on the trolley.
We hope the packaging of Mini Cheddars starts including mean facts about how Branson can’t ride a bike without stabilisers to see if “freedom of choice” holds firm when it’s him who’s the subject of cruelty. We’d be watching if he ceased to stock those, and the same goes for the San Pellegrinos mocking his rubbish rockets.