Sunday, April 12, 2009

So Labour should just bend over and take it like a man?

I don't suppose I'm alone in not enjoying the spectacle of Labour's black-bag ops being exposed.

However, let's be clear about this: The proposed 'Red Rag' site was a plain-and-simple plan to develop a Labour equivalent of Guido's site. Nothing more, nothing less. Though Guido is now universally being labeled as 'anti-politics', it wouldn't do to forget that he's a Tory blogger. He sees his blog as being an instrument of Conservative Party attack politics, and I'm not the only one that he has told that he regards himself as 'part of Project Cameron.'

As long as electoral attack politics have existed in this country, we have a history of accepting that it's part of the Conservative Party's M.O. - the deniable outriders such as the real authors of the Zinoviev Letter, The postwar anti-rationing Housewives League, and latterly, The Taxpayers' Alliance. No such leniency is available to Labour, it seems.

Guido has had regular direct contact with politicians and campaigners from all parts of The Conservative Party for many years now, and I've little doubt that evidence can be found of encouragement that he has received from them in conducting vicious personal campaigns against Labour politicians. And what Guido leaves to the imagination, his 'lightly moderated comments thread' doesn't.

Hopi has an ample case for the prosecution here. It's a testimony to the sheer fuckwitted cretinism of the Westminster Lobby that they are prepared to treat Labour people being exposed as planning to do something that the Tories have been doing for years as a stand-alone scandal.

It's undoubtedly wrong for Labour Party people to plan a campaign of personal smears. Like most people I know, I'd sooner see politics as a combination of high-stakes chess and a process whereby the best outcomes available to a democracy are realised.

But here's the thing: I'd be interested to know what everyone thinks Labour should be doing in the face of being on the receiving end of a similar campaign - over a number of years. These smear campaigns work. They do damage to the government, to the Labour Party and to the very concept of elected government. To simply sit still in the face of them and to not retaliate is not - as far as I can see - an option that anyone would urge upon any other organisation in any other walk of life.

If you add this to the charge of actively running informers within the civil service - and if it is true that the leaker at the fees office is selectively targeting Labour politicians, this becomes an even more serious question - then what should Labour do?

Should we just be more effective at it? More clandestine? More vicious?

PS: Pssst! Wanna job?

PSS: Smear latest.

Update: Shuggy's on the money over at Common Endeavour


CS Clark said...

That sort of thing by Shuggy - or this, by Roy Greenslade is the sort of thing Labour should do. Or, in a more cheesy way, this. It won't impress the more voluble Internet comment-leavers, who will mock attempts at defence, but surely they're not the audience.

I'm not sure, but I suspect there's something about the conservative mind, a wilful stupidity, the sort of determination to remain ignorant seen by Mill and Orwell, that allows conservative supporters to be two-faced about smears (some of the twisting about on the subject of 'it was my money that paid for it' has been revealing). And that, plus the self-destructive desires of some lefties, may be why the two sides are judged by different standards. It's not really unfair, unless you think it's unfair that there are conservatives at all.

On the other hand, oftentimes the left gets to both make not-very-good jokes (sometimes at other lefties, natch) and condemn attempts at humour from the right, perhaps even based on our sciolism and half-knowledge, so maybe it balances out.

stephen said...

There's a bit of a difference, in perception if not in reality, between Guido doing it and a civil servant, working in the same office as the PM, doing it. I am sure you are right that Guido takes encouragement and direction from senior Tories. But at least they are bright enough to keep their rotweiller at arms length and not to employ a serving civil servant to do their dirty work!

Surely the only sensible strategy is to rebut lies and smears not to engage in them yourselves, and certainly not in such a hamfisted way as has been uncovered. Labour has been damaged by this, showing perhaps that tit-for-tat retaliation was not such a good strategy.

Sean said...

Trouble is the inner circle at 10 drowning Street are not men, they are cowards. Whats Happened to Gordon btw, have not seen him in a while.