Saturday, 11 April 2009

McBride, McBrown, McUnfitforoffice

It doesn't seem so long ago that governments sought to persuade the electorate that they should be returned to office because they were more competent in present circumstances than the opposition parties. Anyone reading this from outside the UK will probably not know why I raise this topic, so let me give a little background.

Upper echelons of the UK government employ (at taxpayers' expense) a number of people whose role is to promote the government as a political entity rather than to promote its policies. Nominally they are not employed to do this because it would be a misuse of public funds, but it has been the reality since Tony Blair came into office in 1997 and is even more prevalent today. They are employed as civil servants but given a wholly party political role and no one seems to have the power to challenge it. Recently news was broken that one of these supposed public servants was planning a party-political campaign involving no policy debate at all. His plan was to launch smear attacks against opposition politicians suggesting, regardless of the truth and regardless of having supporting evidence, that they have misbehaved in the past and/or that relatives of theirs have flaws. His plan was disseminated to a select few by email and certain of those emails, or certain details from them, came to the attention of a blogger known as Guido Fawkes who timed his blowing of the whistle to perfection. Today the man who planned the exercise was forced out of his job. His name is Damian McBride, he was, and no doubt will remain, Gordon Brown's closest advisor.

To some, dirty tricks might seem a new phenomenon to UK national politics but the seeds were sown in the 1990s when the press happily latched on to stories of government ministers unable to keep their lusts within the marital bedroom. Previously no opposition party would seek party political advantage of such matters because they knew they had members (no pun intended, although it is a good one) who were just as guilty. But the tide was against the incumbent government, they had been in power for a long time and were showing signs of staleness. The Labour Party had few substantive policies on anything, most of it was just waffle, but they wanted power so they made the most of the moral turpitude of a few Conservative ministers. They found there were votes in it so they dressed it up further, the message was "you can't trust them, they are seedy philanderers". It was a pretty pointless exercise. No doubt it won a few votes but it could never win enough to make a difference, it was a tactic guaranteed to backfire in the long run.

Not long after they were elected in 1997 stories emerged of senior figures in the Labour government being as free and easy with their intimate juices as Conservative ministers had been. At that time it didn't matter, the tide had turned and they had been elected, the British people would give them a chance to prove themselves. Even the most vociferous critic of Conservative ministerial pork-swordsmanship, the ludicrous John Prescott, was eventually exposed for an affair with his diary secretary while his fearsome wife was busy enjoying the largesse of a minister's expense account to keep her bouffant suitably puffed. He called the previous government unfit to rule because they couldn't keep their trousers on, yet steadfastly refused to resign when found to be guilty of exactly the same thing. One might think the current government would shy away from personal attacks in light of their hypocrisy on the issue, but that would be to ignore the pitiful mental state of Gordon Brown, the man who thinks he saved the world.

Poor Gordon has shown no sign at all in his political career of being able to acknowledge that someone else might have a point. He seems to work in the very starkest black and white terms. He is also a lifelong adherent to the view that only the Labour Party should be in government. No matter what it takes, opposition parties should, in his feeble mind, be destroyed. It is, of course, the mindset of a dictator not of a democratic politician, yet it runs through his very marrow.

A smear campaign designed to denigrate opposition is very much poor Gordon's cup of tea. Nothing could please him more because he really believes that anyone who disagrees with him is unworthy. If you have any doubt about this, all you have to do is see how he answers questions. There are far too few opportunities to ask the Prime Minister questions and no opportunities to require him to answer them substantively. There is a half-hour session in the House of Commons every Wednesday, when I say every Wednesday I mean every Wednesday the House is sitting (which is disgracefully few). During that time the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of a minor party and a few backbench MPs ask questions, but they are never answered unless they ask the Prime Minister to heap praise upon himself. He is often asked perfectly sensible and calm questions by those who have doubts about his chosen path of action on one subject or another. His reaction every time is to attack. There is no debate, no explanation and no response of a type appropriate from a democratic politician.

Against that background we find that his closest advisor, a man he took with him as the lynchpin of his backroom staff when he usurped the office of Prime Minister, decided to launch a campaign of personal (not policy) attacks on political opponents of Gordon's clique. I ask myself what poor Gordon's reaction was when he heard that such attacks were planned. I ask myself whether he said "No, stop, that is not the way we do business" or "what a great idea, these evil deniers of my brilliance must be perverts and defectives, they must be exposed". Is there a middle ground? Frankly, I can't see that there is. This manoeuvre follows exactly the way our so-called Prime Minister thinks and acts.

He will try to distance himself from it, of course, because the press is on the story. We might never know whether poor Gordon had advance knowledge of the plan, but it can be said with absolute certainty that he approves of it. It fits his thinking exactly. No matter that members of his party are guilty of exactly the things opposition politicians would be accused of doing, to someone like Gordon there is a difference. His side of the political fence is right, so personal failings are neither here nor there. The opposite side of the political fence is wrong, so personal failings must be exposed because they prove the errors and flawed judgment of his opponents.

It's pathetically shallow. It's Gordon to a tee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But there is something rotten in the heart of Gordon Brown's Downing Street, and what is sadder is that it has infected places like Oxfam's HQ in Oxford, a Labour cess-pool, which is filled with Draper's and McBride's henchmen and wannabe special and media advisers in Brown's government: Antonia Bance for instance, a local Labour politician who is deputy director of Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme, and is allegedly using Oxfam for her own party political ambitions, if you go by many of the comments on her blog.