On 17 April the Mail ran this headline:
Clegg, the panto Yorkshireman: He plays the Northerner, but he's really from the Home Counties and is as posh as Dave
This seemed particularly hypocritical given the Mail's front page a week earlier:
James Chapman's article said:
Gordon Brown set the tone for a class war campaign yesterday by mentioning his 'ordinary middle-class background' while his Labour attack dogs launched spiteful attacks on David Cameron's privileged upbringing.
Whereas Stephen Robinson's article on Clegg said:
Clegg...admits his upbringing was 'affluent' - his father owns a 20-room chalet in the Alps and a chateau near Bordeaux.
Friends speak of the close and loving family that was young Clegg's world until he was sent away as a boarder at Westminster School, where fees are now close to £30,000 a year.
But those friends, who comprise smart European business and political people, British media folk and a smattering of theatrical types such as Sam Mendes - who directed him in a student production at Cambridge - must have choked on their ciabatta when Clegg reinvented himself as a Yorkshireman, speaking passionately about 'my city of Sheffield'.
How dare a politician be friends with 'smart' people who are European.
So do as we say, not as we do when it comes to spiteful attacks on people's upbringing, apparently.
But then the Mail gets really ugly:
Despite his Anglo-Saxon name, Nick Clegg is by blood the least British leader of a British political party, the son of a Dutch mother and a half-Russian merchant banker father.
Why does this matter? And what point are they really trying to make with that statement?
They upped the rhetoric in the Mail on Sunday the following day, with the headline:
His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?
Clegg was born, raised and educated in Britain - as the Mail on Sunday profile makes clear. So why are they asking if there is 'anything' British about him - and thereby implying there isn't?
As Sunder points out, this follows on from the Mail's claim that the British-born children and grandchildren of immigrants are not really British.
It's hard to work out exactly what these comments about Clegg are meant to achieve, other than to suggest he's not quite 'one of us' and therefore not to be trusted. But would they ever make this point about, for example, Prince Charles or Winston Churchill?
But it seems the Mail are setting their own arbitrary rules about what constitutes being British. They don't use the word 'indigenous' - as favoured by the BNP - but they don't seem too far away from that.
If the Mail wishes to attack Clegg and his party, it should do so on the basis of their beliefs, their policies, their ideas, their voting record.
But they should leave the snide remarks about race out of it.