Where No. 10 is guilty — and has been since the Prime Minister walked through its glossy black door almost ten years ago — is in its failure to tell the whole truth. Its currency has been part-truths and, quite often, downright lies. One example sticks in my mind. When I was political editor of the Scotsman, we ran a story that the Prime Minister was lending his voice to an
episode of The Simpsons. That day I took a call from a furious No. 10 official: why had we done this, after being categorically told the story was untrue? The answer came some months later, when the episode was aired. Mr Blair had recorded his contribution at the height of the Iraq war. Ask yourself this: if the Prime Minister’s aides are prepared to dissemble about something as marginal as an American cartoon show, what hope do the Metropolitan Police have of extracting the full story in the loans-for-honours investigation? Being economical with the truth, misleading the press with statements which are only technically correct, is a habit now embedded in the culture of No. 10. Hoodwinking journalists is by no means a criminal offence. But failing to tell the whole truth to the Metropolitan Police can land you up in jail, should the cover-up be big enough.
And that, ladies and gentlemen will be New Labour's epitaph. With a bit of luck.