Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Mandelson is very unconvincing on Smeargate

Just heard an interview with Peter Mandelson on Radio 4's "The World this Weekend" where he was attempting to draw a line under the Smeargate affair.

His main point seemed to be that it is ridiculous to blame Gordon Brown for the actions of his underlings and he is such a busy man that he cannot be expected to have made sure this sort of thing was not going on. Neil Kinnock made a similar point on Andy Marr this morning so this is clearly the line we are being asked to swallow. Mandelson also tried to big up Gordon Brown's now rather damaged moral compass.

I am afraid it won't wash. Here are a few reasons why off the top of my head:

1) Gordon Brown is famously a control freak and the idea that he had no control over very senior advisers like Damian McBride stretches credulity to breaking point. McBride would not have dared to do what he did without at least thinking he was doing his master's bidding. And why would he have thought that?
2) The implication seems to be that McBride was some sort of junior underling amongst many others. This is nonsense. He was one of the, if not the actual closest advisers to the PM.
3) Can you imagine the furore that Labour would have kicked up if the boot was on the other foot? Just imagine for a moment what would have happened if one of John Major's most senior advisers had been caught out trying to spread rumours about Tony Blair's sexual health, the psychological condition of Sarah Macaulay and lies about other senior Labour figures. Would Mandelson have come onto the radio to sympathise with Major's situation? Or would he have torn him a new one?

If this is the best Labour can do then they are in real trouble.

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