Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Rotten Government Spinning Out Of Control

More details are due to be revealed tomorrow of a disgraceful Tory smear campaign at the heart of Number Ten which has led to one of Brown's closest aides forced to quit a rotten government spinning out of control.

The Downing Street dirty tricks campaign to smear top Tories, including leader David Cameron, was exposed by one of the country's top political bloggers, Paul Staines, author of the Guido Fawkes political blog.

The smear campaign has been spun by Number Ten as a "juvenile and inappropriate" prank by two blokes in a pathetic attempt at damage limitation and to play down the seriousness of the spin operation at the heart of a fag-end of a government.

But a full blown political row dealt a bitter blow for Brown, when one of his most senior aides, Damian McBride, was fingered by Staines over emails discussing possible smear stories about Tory MPs, sent to New Labour blogger, Derek Draper to be used on a scurrilous New Labour pre-election website, 'Red Rag'.

Staines had alleged a Downing Street operation, co-ordinated by McBride tried to smear Conservative MPs, including lurid and totally unfounded allegations about the private lives of David Cameron and George Osborne.

Some of the smears, due to be published in tomorrow's News of the World, are revealed here by the Sunday Times. The Tories have already confirmed that David Cameron and his wife Samantha, George Osborne and MP Nadine Dorries, are among the targets.

But in a toxic mixture of deceit and spin, Downing Street today tried to play down 'Smeargate' as spinners tried on the tactic of a political battle between 'left' and 'right' when it's nothing of the sort.

Claims on Guido Fawkes and Twitter also point the finger at minister for digital engagement, Tom Watson, who denied involvement. SpAds and spinners are one thing, a government minister, quite another.

A Downing Street spokesman said it was Brown's view there was "no place in politics for the dissemination or publication of material of this kind."

But that's rich coming from the man who promised a new era of politics and vowed to put an end to the spin and SpAd culture which had dogged Blair and discredited the New Labour brand.

The allegations, which detail a smear campaign against various Tory politicians, were due to be exposed by one of the Sunday newspapers.

But, in what appears to be a spoiler and pre-emptive strike, the claims featured on the front page of today's Daily Telegraph.

Downing Street initially tried to hold the line and issued a statement saying McBride has apologised but the writing was on the wall as Downing Street's rapid rebuttal unit worked overtime.

The BBC pushed the Brown and the Downing Street line playing up the apology and playing down the seriousness of the affair with the toe-rag McBride being given the oxygen of air-time to drip more McPoison.

To spin this as some kind of 'juvenile and inappropriate' prank by one person in Downing Street is bollocks.

Spinners also tried the tactic of accusing Guido of money grabbing, claims which he strenuously denies: "Not a penny is changing hands. This is for pleasure, not profit."

McBride, dubbed McPoison, who has worked for Brown for many years, is well-known for downright devious briefings to journalists.

At the heart too is a long-running cyber-spat between Guido and Draper, a former spin doctor to the spinmaster Mandelson, who runs a weedy apology for a political blog Labourlist, as part of the 'Go Forth And Multiply' New Labour gang.

What is highly embarrassing for Number 10 is that its spinners and plumbers are spending their time obsessing about how they can smear the opposition with the politics of character assassination, rather than doing the job they are paid to do by the taxpayers. And that is trying to advise ministers on how best to run the country.

No political party of whatever colour is whiter than white when it comes to the dark arts of political dirty tricks, from Richard 'Tricky Dicky' Nixon in the US through to the Campbell and Mandleson spin of the Blair years.

But these sordid smears do reveal the increasing significance of the political blogsphere which is becoming a powerful political voice and the main forum for political debate, as is already the case in the US.

Once again, the problem comes when the spinner becomes the story. McBride is toast, Draper must surely follow. The more they spin, the deeper the hole.

The healthy UK blogsphere will become more important in the run-up to the general election as Downing Street spinners are all too well aware.

The Orange Party has pointed out before this arrogant bunch of chancers don't like it up 'em, and expects more of their dirty tricks, lies and downright deceit in the weeks to come.

Staines aka Guido has done a magnificent job exposing this particular New Labour brand of nastiness at the heart of a rotten government - but he should be careful about going for long walks alone in the woods.

Picture: Happier spinning days - McBride (left) and Draper (right)

1 comment:

WestBrom Blogger said...

They are spinning so much they are tripping over themselves. One minute Draper, Liam Byrne and Stephen Pound are all saying that this was a silly idea that never got off the ground, the next minute the Guardian are reporting that the plan [for Red Rag] was only placed on ice this month.

Its car crash TV.