Essentially he says my reaction fits in entirely with Machiavellian thought! Here's an extract...
Iain Dale is currently illustrating a fundamental dynamic of politics, andNow, I can see why he thinks this, because he's right, political parties are tribes and when one of our own is in trouble there is a definite tendency to circle the wagons. And maybe there is a subconcious part of me that is doing just that. But that is certainly not my primary motivation in defending Andy Coulson from the left wing vultures that are determined to pick over his carcass.
helpfully demonstrating a valuable Machiavellian insight.
Dale has written what can only be described, at least from an anti-Tory perspective, as a desperate blog attempting to defend Andy Coulson. The argument (such as there is one) runs: Coulson is good at his job now; allegations against him relate to his
former job which he has already resigned from; accessing people’s voicemail
without their knowledge is not hacking; John Prescott and Alastair Campbell were
terrible media manipulators and are thus hypocrites to attack Coulson.
There’s several dozes things wrong with this, and I don’t need to spell
them out. So just the most obvious will do: if Coulson is implicated to the
extent the New York Times alleges, then he oversaw systematic criminal activity.
If so, Coulson is not suitable for a role coordinating the Conservative Party’s
relations with the media, and with access to the Prime Minister’s ear.
But I reckon Iain Dale knows all this, because he isn’t stupid. I’ve seen him debate and he is sharp and very quick off the mark. So what’s going on?
Quite simply, Dale is doing what is required of the high-placed party animal: fighting for his pack.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, Dale is prepared to ignore the truth and go so far as to apologies for what may be criminal, and is certainly immoral...
...For Dale is being manifestly Machiavellian. And I use that term technically, in line with the great Florentine himself. Namely, that Dale is prepared to defend immorality and the possibly criminal in the service of his primary political aim: promoting and defending the Tory party, insofar as he sees this as necessary for achieving his fundamental political goal of a strong Conservative government
To those outside of Dale’s party this appears abhorrent. Non-Conservatives hold the relevant standards of morality and non-criminality above the career of Andy Coulson or the reputation of the Tory Party. But to Tory loyalists, what matters most right now is the perceived higher political value of defending the party. Hence obfuscation and defence of the indefensible are not only permitted – they are required.
And within the realm of politics, in a certain sense there’s simply nothing wrong with this. Because it’s just what politics is about: the visceral defence and promotion of your tribe, sometimes by accepting dubious means, to promote what you believe is a higher good.
But where Paul is wrong is that I would never, ever defend anyone - no matter how strong the tribal loyalty is - if I thought they were guilty of a criminal act. I suppose there is a bit of a devil in me in that I have a track record of sticking up for people who hit on hard times politically - Neil Hamilton over Fayed and both Hamiltons over the Ilford rape case, immediately come to mind. It wasn't a popular thing to do at the time, and many of my friends told me I shouldn't have gone public. But in the end, if you believe someone is being traduced unfairly, and you don't speak out, what sort of person are you?
So although I may not like some of the things Paul Sagar has written, or indeed what his blogreaders say in the comments, I'd point to his blogpost as an example of top quality blogging.