Friday, April 17, 2009

McBrideshead revisited

A couple more thoughts following the McBride smear affair.

Gordon Brown’s apology, while correct, was pitifully, pointlessly, self-destructively late. Whatever this episode might or might not say about his ‘character’, it gives us yet another reminder that the man has all the political skills of a drunken, incontinent Visigoth warrior at a meeting of the Cheltenham Women’s Institute (or of a G20 riot officer when confronted with a bolshie protestor and half a dozen cameras).

And this quote is a stunning vortex of doublethink:

I take full responsibility for what happened. That's why the person who was responsible went immediately.

(Liam has also spluttered about this line. It’s surely up there with Blair’s “today is not a day for soundbites, we can leave those at home, but I feel the hand of history upon our shoulder”…)

Secondly, John Lloyd has an interesting angle in the FT:

The Conservatives, rightly, have made the McBride e-mails a large issue. They must, however, reflect on the last time George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, was comprehensively smeared. In October 2005, the News of the World published a picture of Mr Osborne, aged 22, posing with a self-confessed prostitute and cocaine user. Mr Osborne strongly denied the prostitute’s claim that the white powder visible in the photograph was cocaine. The editor of the News of the World at the time, Andy Coulson – forced to resign in 2007 over a separate scandal, the interception of messages between senior members of the royal family – is now head of communications for David Cameron, the Conservative leader.
Mr Coulson was hired not for his political but for his media nous. He had, self-confessedly, little interest in politics, having reported on show-business and celebrities before being elevated to the editorship – although, in an interview with Tony Blair before the 2001 election, he asked the then prime minister whether he and his wife Cherie had joined the “mile-high club” (had sex in an aircraft toilet). In appointing him to such a key post, Mr Cameron was signalling, both to the media and to his party, that he would mould the Conservatives’ presentation around tropes that a tabloid professional would judge had most impact.

So rather than a ‘change of culture’ (as Cameron urges), there may eventually be more of this to come.

(And I do love that somebody, presumably an FT sub, decided that readers needed to be told what the mile-high club is.)

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