Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can Brown Shake Off McPoison 'Link'?

Twice Brown has been forced to deny dealings with his disgraced spin doctor McBride. Twice he was forced to stand at the commons despatch box and deny any links. Spiteful Tory trouble stirring to ruffle Brown's feathers? Or is McPoison back already? There's something fishy going on.

For the Tories the name of Damian McBride is spat out through gritted teeth. Forced to leave Brown's side in shame with his tail between his legs after being exposed at the centre of a nasty email smear campaign against top Tories.

Revenge could be a dish best served cold at the dispatch box.

Since McBride went to ground, many political observers have raised the vexed question. Where's McPoison? What's he up to now? Is he up to his old tricks offering "informal briefings"?

The mere suggestion forced Downing Street to put up the story that he's turned his back on the dirty tricks of politics, short listed for another job as an "outreach worker" for his old school. Some kind of penance perhaps or maybe taking the outreach just a little bit too literally?

The Orange Party was taken aback somewhat when for the second week running a Tory asked the PM a planted question during PMQs over links with McBride. The Westminster Mole is pondering the same intriguing question with equally intriguing conclusions.

The first week's question to Brown was messed up. Woolly, imprecise, asking only about alleged "informal briefings", that allowed Brown to get away with a simple denial. Tory high command was furious.

Not so this week. A very tight, detailed, precise question designed to pin Brown down, which had all the hallmarks of being drafted by Tory central office.

Tory backbencher James Duddridge demanded to know whether Brown had had "any correspondence, emails, telephone conversations or texts from McBride". Brown again brushed it aside with: "I have not" but here's the rub - the MP asked him to send his answer to the Commons Standards watchdog. Outch.

MPs cannot accuse one another of lying in the House. But they can force someone to account for themselves if what they've said is a bit dodgy. A prime minister caught lying to the House and its curtains for Brown.

Are the Tories onto something? What is clear is that all communications between a prime minister are routinely monitored by Downing Street and the spooks. It goes with the job.

It's designed to protect a prime minister from any false accusations and to give Downing Street a steer on a PMs thinking. Blair never had a mobile phone, Brown has. The record is there on the grounds of national security and in the best interests of the state.

Falling into the wrong or right hands and it's a case of Gotcha.

Ex-spin doctors have a habit of turning up like a bad penny. Disgraced Campbell is doing quite well with his feet under the Downing Street table blogging for the Blair brand.

And why not. Nice work if you can get it. Old habits die hard and McBride could well have offered some kind words of advice. Some lines to take on a vexed issue. No one would bat an eyelid.

But now Brown has been forced to deny it to the House. It only takes one transcript of a text message, one mobile phone link and he's toast.

The Tories maybe on to something. Or just giving Brown a taste of his own medicine. The McPoison wounds of Smeargate ran deep. What is clear is they won't give up, if only to make the struggling Supreme Leader sweat.

Picture: McBrown and McBride in happier days

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