Guardian columnists have an extraordinarily high estimate of the value of their own opinion that is fortunately not matched by newspaper sales. Why, they aver, should such towering intellects, such national treasures, as Polly Toynbee and Michael White be subject to fickle and misguided market forces when they should be preserved for the State at the taxpayers' expense? The British press, they complain, reflects public opinion and is therefore unbalanced - and they say this with straight faces and without a hint of irony.
Their contempt for democracy and self-righteous puffery is what binds them to the EU - an institution with these characteristics in spades. So predictably both White and Toynbee devote their columns to lecturing Mister Ed on the error of his ways in putting his MPs through the wrong lobby. Polly complains that 80% of UK newspapers are against the EU, and it's therefore Mister Ed's job to restore balance by promoting its value and asserting Labour's unwavering support for the corrupt and anti-democratic Behemoth. White's reasoning is somewhat deeper, but still emerges as counsel that Labour should do what's right rather than what's popular.
The shivers running through the Guardian are not due to the same prickling of conscience that bothered Margaret Hoxha on Tuesday. They are down to Mister Ed having legitimised Euphobia in a party that should be wholly Euphiliac, and the prospect that he may actually develop policy for electoral advantage rather than the rarefied atmosphere of Guardian policy.