Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Smeargate - Fallout

The more I see and read about Smeargate, the more I think that this could be the most damaging thing to happen to Gordon Brown since "The election that never was".

Close political observers know that Gordon Brown has over the years surrounded himself with characters such as Damian McBride to act as his attack dogs. There are plenty of politicians (mostly Labour ones) who have fallen victim to this sort of thing. It is one of the reasons that Brown was elected unopposed in 2007 - his operation had made sure over the years that there was nobody left with any credibility to stand against him.

The thing is, people are now starting to question how his back-room operates. There are various comment pieces and stories coming out about the behaviour of McBride over the years and it is becoming clear that his modus operandi has been to smear and attack by default. It is not credible for Gordon Brown to say that he knew nothing of what was going on. He has fostered the political climate in which McBride was able to operate. Indeed he owes his unopposed election to it.

I doubt we will ever know for sure if Brown knew exactly what was going on regarding Smeargate. Most commentators appear to be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. However, even if he did not know anything about it specifically, to a large extent this is irrelevant. If Brown had really wanted to clean up politics and make it spin free like he said when he became PM, he would have called McBride off. He didn't, and that speaks volumes to me about what goes on behind the closed doors of No 10.

Things could now get much worse for Brown. The spin has been to try and close this issue down as isolated and basically an adviser gone rogue as a one off. But the issue has not been closed down. It is still very high up the news agenda 4 days on from the original story. The more this goes on, the more politicians and journalists who have had first-hand experience of McBride and his tactics will feel emboldened to come forward and tell their stories. And the more this happens, the more hollow Downing Street's spin that this was a one off will sound.

I think that if this story is not away from the headlines by tomorrow at the latest then we will start to see real damage to the Prime Minister. He appears to finally be reaping what he has sown over the last 12 years.

Costigan has done an excellent piece on this today. There are also other pieces worth reading here, here and here.

No comments: