James Forsyth

Damian McReckless

Damian McReckless
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This story from Steve Richards’ column takes the breath away:

‘On one occasion shortly before a presenter was about to interview a cabinet minister McBride texted him with the message: “Ask him about his drinking problem.” Again even if the attempted assassination of a minister was clever politics – and it was not – for the fingerprints to be all over the source was dangerously inept.’

I’m sure this anecdote will have Coffee Housers screaming, understandably, about collusion between the media and the Brown machine. If the presenter had held the phone up to the camera, McBride would have been finished. But journalists have to protect their sources. If we burned them by revealing what was said off the record then we would find that few people would talk to u,s and what we could tell the public would be severely limited. There is, though, obviously, a point at which journalists are being used to spread smears and shouldn’t go along with it.

Steve goes on to talk about the election campaign consequences of this:

“More important, Brown’s capacity to attack the Conservatives has suddenly narrowed. There are entirely legitimate issues about the unconvincing political back story of Cameron and Osborne which are partly connected to their wealth and privileged backgrounds.

Arguably there is a superficial frivolity about their approach to politics that is a product of their pasts. I am not suggesting that such assertions are necessarily right or definitive, but they are fair game. It is a game that Brown will not be able to play easily now. Suddenly the Conservatives are much safer than they were”

Steve is right: Brown now can’t try and character assassinate the Tories without a severe risk of blow-back.  Also, Brown will now get the blame if personal questions, such as whether or not Cameron took serious drugs at university, flare up during the campaign. The predicament Brown finds himself in is almost enough to make one believe in karma.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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