The BBC recently invited a psychobabbler to speculate about the mental health of the Prime Minister. This sort of stunt is nothing new, the Sun was doing the same thing almost a quarter of a century ago.
Shortly before the 1984 Chesterfield by-election the Sun carried a story under the byline of Martin Dunn which claimed that Tony Benn was:-
“…a Messiah figure hiding behind the mask of the common man. He is greedy for power and will do anything to satisfy his hunger … [he] is a man driven by his own self-interest and thinks of himself as God.”
Dunny claimed that this analysis had been done by an American psychiatrist Dr. David Hubbard. It turned out that a “dossier” had been compiled on Benn and sent to Hubbard for his comments. Hubbard was to claim later that he did not know he was being asked to comment on a well-known British politician and did not know his comments were to be used in a national newspaper.
Even if this is the case (and frankly, it is quite plausible) it is clear that Hubbard was prepared to “psychoanalyse” someone he had never met – just like the current case.
The Sun’s motivation is clear enough of course – it was a rabid supporter of Margaret Thatcher and appeared to see its role as a Tory attack-dog with a duty to bring down anyone who presented an alternative view; in other words it was trying to persuade the Chesterfield electorate not to vote for Tony Benn. One can only speculate as to the motivations of the BBC in the current case.