You might not like what McBride did, but he was effective--think of the role that Billy Bremner played for Don Revie’s Leeds United--at least against Labour opponents. As Bagehot notes, McBride’s performance at last year’s Labour conference was brilliant. But he and the rest of the Brown team have never had the same kind of success against the Tories. Indeed, this whole smear campaign that has led to McBride’s resignation can be seen as an expression of frustration that they couldn’t take out opponents they disdained.
The fall of McBride will have huge psychological consequences. The Tories have always been slightly nervous about how they would fare under the no quarter given assault that the Brownites would launch once the election campaign got under way. With McBride having shot himself in the foot before the starter’s gun has even been fired, the Tories will feel a lot more confident. The first scalp of the 2010 election has been claimed and it is a Brownite one.