Martin Bright

Ashcroft vs Whelan

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It is difficult to imagine two more unappealing characters than Michael Ashcroft and Charlie Whelan. Just when you thought the Westminster culture couldn't get more decadent, these two great toads come forward to squat on the body politic. 

The sight of senior politicians lining up to trade insults about which of the men is more corrosive of trust in politics is such a depressing spectacle.

How is it possible to weigh up the relative awfulness of these two individuals? And what are we supposed to make of the parties that tolerate them? 

William Hague's reputation has been seriously damaged by revelations about his role in lobbying for a peerage for MIchael Ashcroft, but no more than Gordon Brown's tolerance of his licensed mockney fixer. 

So who is most to blame? I think both major parties are locked into a horrible game of chicken. Ashcroft's money in the marginals terrifies Labour and Whelan scares the Tories. That is why their respective parties put up with them. Pathetic, isn't it?