Monday, April 13, 2009

Draper and McBride the exception rather than the rule

I've now been involved in active politics for over quarter of a century. I've worked with and observed many politicians from all parties whether they be local councillors, backbench parliamentarians or ministers. I've also met activists from all parties who actually get these people elected and try to keep them out of trouble once they're there. And do you know what? I've found that most of the above are decent human beings who want to make people's lives better. There are huge disagreements of philosophy and policy, but most people in my experience are in this game for the right reasons.

Of course I've come across people who don't live up to that ideal in my time, but they are very much in the minority.

That's why it's so depressing to read about the antics of Derek Draper and Damian McBride and their pathetic plan to pollute the blogosphere with innuendo and smear. Their e-mails are full of childish glee at the jape they are planning to pull off. They come across at best as silly boys, at worst as cruel and calculating.

I can't think of one single good thing that the advent of Derek Draper onto the political blogging scene has brought about to be honest. I have no problem having Iain Dale or Guido on my blogroll, because most of the time they write about stuff that either makes you laugh or is worth debating but I wouldn't waste the space for Draper or Labourlist. Guido and Dale engage with fellow bloggers and treat them with respect, most of the time, anyway.

I was way too kind to Draper earlier this year, but the way he behaves, it's like he thinks that people in other parties are actually beneath him. It's almost as though he thinks there's something defective about people who don't agree with his line or his perception of a situaton.

That has always been one of the most annoying things about certain people in the Labour Party, way back to my first experience of them in my student days. Discussion and debate about different ways of doing things was simply not either welcomed or in some cases tolerated. Members of other parties were looked on with a mixture of disdain and pity. If you didn't sign up to the Labour Wimmin's ideas of what feminism was about then you were an apologist for male domination.

Let's not let the Tories entirely off the hook, though. According to Paddy Ashdown's new autobiograpy, serialised in yesterday's Sunday Times, similar dark forces were at work in the Conservative Government prior to the 1992 election.

There are certainly similarities there - a dying Government, running out of steam and ideas, fighting for its political life, facing economic turmoil.

I actually don't think for a minute that Gordon Brown either knew about or was actively involved in this operation. Guido goes on about this Sunday lunch Derek Draper attended at Chequers with McBride. Gordon Brown has made his mistakes both as Chancellor and Prime Minister, but I have enough faith in him as a person that he would have put a stop to this nonsense had he been aware of the extent to which it involved pulling apart people's personal lives.

I don't doubt that there has been some action in Labour circles to try to use blogs to get their point of view out there. Scottish cyberspace has been enlivened, for the better, by entertaining blogs such as A Leaky Chanter whose wicked wit does exactly what it says on the tin - "takes the wind oot of the pipes" of the SNP Government. I don't know if the Chanter has anything official to do with Labour, but it does a good job of deflating the Nats in a humorous way. It may be that if Brown was aware of a Red Rag project, that he thought it was a similar idea.

I hope that now that McBride has gone, and Draper's credibility is basically non existent, that we don't go on and on about this forever. There are many more important thigns which should be dominating the mind of the Government - like making sure people have jobs and homes.

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