Peter Hoskin

Gordon Brown has lost all moral authority

Gordon Brown has lost all moral authority
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So this is the way New Labour ends - in a shower of immorality.  Sure, the expenses scandals were bad enough, but Brown could wriggle out of those; promise a review; and wait for the revelations to appear about Tory and Lib Dem MPs.  But Damian McBride and "Smeargate" is something else; something altogether more final.  The public is getting its clearest glimpse yet into the workings of the Brown machine.  And it's a grim sight.

It's always puzzled me how Brown has managed to perpetuate the "son of the manse" shtick.  Read any biography of the man - I'd recommend Tom Bower's - and the truth is clear: his is a political career built largely on gangsterism and deceit.  Yet there's always been this abiding impression that he's just industrious ol' Brown, getting on with the job.  That's why the ad-men could produce those "Not Flash, Just Gordon" posters in 2007, and why he could take over from Blair with excited talk about "no more spin".

But now that the inner circle of bruisers, opportunists and freaks has been properly exposed, all that lies shattered.  Even though Brown almost certainly didn't know about the McBride emails, his reliance on this grubby operation makes him guilty by association.  And, on the back of recent scandals and ahead of scandals yet-to-come, his claims to moral authority are finally being revealed for what they are: an illusion.

Strategically, this leaves the PM floundering.  It's been suggested that a central plank of his post-G20 approach was to "inject a moral dimension into the debate".  But how can he manage that now?  Can he really lambast the Tories for "not caring" about the unemployed and the dispossessed, when one of his closest advisers spent time trying to sow false rumours about George Osborne's wife and Cameron's medical history?  Well, he can try; but I doubt it will have quite the same impact.  And, in turn, that leaves a moral dimension for the Tories to occupy.

In short: if - when - Brown loses the next election, the events of yesterday will be a contributing factor.  Guido, take a bow.

P.S. The News of the World's article is now online.