Read the full article on the Mail on Sunday website HERE.
Gordon Brown's Downing Street is beginning to resemble a paler version of the White House of Richard Nixon. If that sounds far-fetched, then consider the events of the past 48 hours. Because, while I am not suggesting that Smeargate is on the same scale as Watergate, the parallels are there.
Both men seem to delight in employing people who know only one form of defence and that’s attack – personal, professional and with more than a passing nod to the ‘dark arts’ of image manipulation. Nixon revelled in trying to get newspaper editors to fire journalists he disapproved of.
Brown, or at least the ‘inept Mafioso tactics’ employed by some of his New Labour operatives, has been blamed for the departure of New Statesman political editor Martin Bright. Not sufficiently ‘on message’, it was Bright who pointed the finger at Brown’s regime, claiming first-hand experience of the peculiarly forceful pressure these operatives can bring to bear.
Nixon appointed henchman such as John Ehrlichman, whose job it was to protect the reputation of the President. Writ large in this weekend’s revelations is the uncomfortable fact that our Prime Minister uses the likes of his former spin doctor Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride to bully and smear his opponents.
I’ve been around politics long enough to know that sometimes political workers overstep the boundary of what is acceptable political banter and discourse. The difference is that McBride was a civil servant, not a party operative.
The initial attempt by Downing Street to portray the whole incident as a ‘juvenile prank’, giving the impression that McBride was some sort of junior researcher operating on a freelance basis, was laughable...
...The signal sent out to any dissident has been as clear and ominous: mess with us and we will mess with you. What’s so Nixonian is that once you’re on the ‘enemies’ list you are never off it. When the focus of the Government should be on running the country, it seems increasingly diverted towards running down the reputation of perceived dissenters.
The tragedy is that ordinary voters probably think political smears like this are the norm across the political spectrum. I truly believe that they are not. But when such insidious tactics are exposed, they and their perpetrators need to be dealt with by those who purport to want a ‘different kind of politics’.
McBride has fallen on his sword. Several Labour MPs I know are now pushing for Draper to be disowned. They believe it is the only way for the sewer that runs through No 10 to be cleansed.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Brown & Nixon: More in Common Than You Might Think
Back in September 2008 I wrote a blogpost about the Nixonian personality of Gordon Brown. I have developed this a bit further in an article for tomorrow's Mail on Sunday. I liken Brown's management of Downing Street to Nixon's White House. Here's how it starts...