‘Smeargate’: That Was The Easter Weekend That Was

I know it’s the Westminster Village story de jour, but I’m finding it very hard to work up motivation to blog on what is being portentously dubbed ‘Smeargate’, Labour’s cretinous attempts to stick the boot into the Tories.

Damian McBride, the author of the emails slurring his opponents, has deservedly lost his job (hard to believe, by the way, he’s 34 – if ever there were a walking advertisement for not becoming Gordon Brown’s media-bitch, it’s Damian). Derek Draper limps on as the public face of LabourList.org, reduced to empty exhortations for “the whole blogosphere, right and left, to commit to a new start, where offensiveness and personal attacks are avoided and debate is elevated not dragged down into the gutter”. Okay, Derek, ‘course we believe you’ve turned over a new leaf this time.

The Tories are demanding apologies, and the right-wing blogosphere is up-in-self-righteously-triumphant-arms. Labour is embarrassed, and the lefty blogosphere is torn between condemnation of Mr McBride, and tribal loyalty to Labour and/or tribal hatred of the Tories.

It’s predictable, it’s inevitable, it’s sterile.

Alastair Campbell made the most telling point on his blog – the last thing Labour wants to do is find itself mired in personality and process stories. It would do far better, key much more into voters’ fears, to focus four-square on the Tories’ policies:

… on reading the emails [McBride] sent, I was struck not just by their unpleasantness, but also by their incompetence and, most of all, how much they miss the point about where we are politically. The Tories are at their most vulnerable on policy. As I have been saying for some time, it is in this area that there has to be sustained, co-ordinated and vigorous attack, ensuring the public are aware of the incoherence and inconsistencies in the positions of those who would claim to be the next government of the UK.

(Of course, it’s much easier to be high-minded when out of office. It was Alastair Campbell, after all, who invented and spread the unsubstantiated rumour that John Major tucked his short into his pants. An innocent enough lie compared with Mr McBride’s, to be sure, but the tapestry’s woven from the same cloth).

My guess – and it’s just that – is that the weekend skirmishes will have little effect on the public (or at least that part of it which didn’t have better things to do with its Easter weekend than watch/read rolling news coverage). The whole tasteless episode will get wrapped inside the general ‘they’re all at it’ / ‘politicians are divorced from reality’ meme sparked by the recession, and ignited by the MPs’ expenses scandals.

Insofar as ‘the blogoshere’ will have entered the public consciousness, it will have seemed as distanced from their lives, as obsessed with the Westminster Village, as fuelled by egotistical machismo as those scrounging politicians held in such contempt by their constituents.

This was a squalid, tawdry story from start to finish which reflects badly on the gossipy, onanistic world of Westminster politics. The fact that it’s beem amped-up on the Internet doesn’t change that rather banal fact.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

5 Comments

  • Whatever you think of the story, it has generated more than 1600 news articles, but has not provoked a single comment from any Liberal Democrat politician. Indeed, the LibDem website hasn’t been updated since last Thursday. At a time when there is general discontent with the two main parties, a third party should be making gains, not sitting around waiting for this story to go away.

  • David Evershed 14th Apr '09 - 7:21pm

    You underestimate the importance of the story.

    There were more than McBride involved with smears in Downing St (See Guido Fawkes).

    ITV news 6.30pm 14 April has reported that if Gordon Brown does not apologise profusely he will have to step down.

    Where is Cowley St ?

  • “This was a squalid, tawdry story from start to finish which reflects badly on the gossipy, onanistic world of Westminster politics” – Completely accurate.

    “I think the story is a bit more important than you portray it as being, Stephen” – Completely accurate.

    This is a big story, which we should be attacking precisely BECAUSE it’s so symptomatic of the esoteric Westminster bollocks the LibDems want to stop.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRossMcL 18th Nov - 1:12am
    Well Yousuf you started saying it was "very likely" the SNP would win ED, and now you're saying: "they might. who knows." In other words,...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 18th Nov - 1:10am
    Paul Pettinger, Ed Davey in his speech has said: " I can announce today that across a 5 year Parliament, Liberal Democrats would spend and...
  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:58pm
    @Peter Martin Come on, there is no way the Lib Dems will form any kind of coalition or pact with the Tories after the election,...
  • User AvatarYousuf Farah 17th Nov - 11:45pm
    @RossMcL Well the SNP won it in the EU parliament elections this year, so that's usually a good indicator that the people there might vote...
  • User AvatarRossMcL 17th Nov - 11:00pm
    @Yousouf "It’s very likely that she will lose her Westminster seat." Really? How do you know that Yousouf? Are you local to East Dunbartonshire? Do...
  • User AvatarPaul Barker 17th Nov - 10:34pm
    Its much too early to give up on our chances in this Election, the situation is highly unstable. The Government is currently more unpopular than...