The McBride smears were not only wrong but would have been deeply counter-productive

I have been out of the country for a few days (France, since you ask) and following the McBride “smear-gate” story from internet news reports and bloggers’ comments.  With the benefit of that small degree of distance, there seem to be some very simple conclusions to draw.

First, the whole idea was deeply and irredeemably wrong.  It is not acceptable to spread defamatory lies about people – whether you dislike their politics or not.  The Prime Minister and the Labour Party should make it quite clear that the pursuit of such tactics by anyone purporting to act on their behalf or ostensibly in their interests will always be unacceptable and the individuals concerned will be treated as having brought the Party into disrepute.  I trust other Parties (no names, no pack drill) will do the same.

Second, the concept would almost certainly have been utterly counter-productive.  I am not convinced that the electorate think it matters what individuals might have done in their student days nearly twenty years ago and they are unlikely to think it relevant to their current suitability for public office.  Nor are the past (or even current) sexual peccadilloes of public figures that relevant to their ability to be Government ministers.  That doesn’t mean that people won’t take a prurient interest, but I am not convinced it makes much (if any) electoral difference.  (Indeed, I remember talking to one politician who had recently had some particularly lurid stories printed about his sexual habits.  He admitted that he had been worried about how his constituents might react.  In fact, he said that, although he had had to endure some ribald comments, most of the reaction seemed tinged with – if anything – admiration.)

Third, it would appear that the execution of the proposed smear plot was incredibly inept – using an official and traceable email address, for example.

Finally, the net result of what has happened will further demean and degrade the reputation of politicians and – in turn – the democratic process.  If you believe, like I do, that democracy and politics matters, then this may turn out to be the most worrying consequence of the whole sorry business.

One thought on “The McBride smears were not only wrong but would have been deeply counter-productive”

  1. Ken Livingstone took your view, and said that Londoners were not at all interested in either his or B Johnson’s sexual misdemeanors/entanglements.

    I do not wholly agree.

    I found the allegations that B Johnson had conducted an affair and twice pushed his mistress into having an abortion, lying the while about his intention to marry her, which he did not, of some importance.

    True it doesn’t prove duplicity in his public life, but it would have made me think twice about supporting him if I was a tory.

    Re the McBride – Draper emails, which I have not yet read, I gather that they didn’t just draw up a list of names and invent the whole thing. I am told Mrs Osborne is listed as “nervous.”

    To my mind one of the best things to come from this whole sorry affair is her complaint to the PPC about the N o W and The Sunday Times, I wish her success, most especially because the publications were clearly tendentious and careless of reputations in a way that the emails, conducted privately I understand, were not.

    I think the context and atmosphere in which McBride – Draper set out on whatever precisely they did set out on is critical and formative.

    The Daily telegraph has blogger who are much influenced by Staines of Guidos and I have read in posts and sometimes blogs quite revolting, and usually irrelevant falsehoods about Gordon Brown, his wife, and other Labour figures. No Labour Lady may be judged feminine, or compos mentis by these scunners.

    Their libels and abuse are legion. Staines’ blogging company is even registered in the WIndies to reduce his chances of being sued for libel here – what a hypocrtite!

    Testosterone likely has undone McBride, I do feel sorry for him. But Draper must go too, and I wrote to No 10 to say so. Others who are about the Labour party might consider doing so as well.

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