Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle

Now, I'm not going to defend smears as a political weapon - we should be able to put a better case to the electorate rather than just relying on negative campaigning (which is of dubious value, to say the least). A candidate's personal life is only relevant if it highlights hypocrisy, illegality or they put it into the firing line themselves.

For example, many of my readers will remember the fun I had with John Hemming's complicated lovelife just after the last general election. I had heard rumours of something like that in the weeks prior to the election, but I only went with the story once the man himself had put it into the public arena. If someone told me that Sir Bufton Tufton, the famous MP for Anytown - who had publicly railed against the evils of homosexuality - was actually a regular on the gay scene and rarely seen without a young man on his arm, then I would consider that a hypocrisy worthy of revelation. If Sir Bufton was breaking the law, then that would be reasonable - as long as I could evidence the claims and defend myself against the inevitable libel action. As an example, I don't think that the publication of Max Mosley's sexual predilections advanced the cause of human knowledge or can remotely be justified under either of those two latter tests.

Now, I don't know what the allegations made by Damian McBride were and I'm not going to defend any nasty little smears and lies, even about our opposition - not even Nadine Dorries, no matter how much I dislike her and her views. I don't know if they were pushed to Derek Draper, who appears to have become the voice of the Labour blogosphere (I didn't vote for him) for leaking and wider publication or if they were just passed on as a bit of canteen gossip. I'd certainly condemn any smears or revelations of private lives that did not meet my key tests of hypocrisy or illegality. I think that McBride had to go - either by falling on his sword or by dismissal for what has to be a gross breach of the government IT use policy.

However, to have Paul Staines - Guido Fawkes - setting himself up as some sort of judge and jury on smearing politicians REALLY sticks in my throat. He's allowed and encouraged grossly abusive and offensive comments about (predominantly) Labour politicians on his site for years - Tim Ireland over at Bloggerheads makes the point most effectively, as usual.
Any outrage you hear from Paul Staines and his followers is bound to be fabricated, as they've quietly tolerated repeated smears on the website and elsewhere for years.
Staines' bot-like dittoheads can be relied upon to roll out the usual range of cobblers about Labour in adulatory support of the bile that Staines spews out against those not in full support of his particular libertarian agenda. And now this man is taking the high moral ground about obscenity and rumour?

And, a minor point - how DID Staines get his grubby little fingers on the emails?

We don't need to paddle in the same sewers as Guido and his ilk - leave them to it.

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