Matthew Dancona

The McPoison remains

The McPoison remains
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Damian McBride's departure will be spun by his successors as the honourable conduct of a man whose loose talk (or, in this case, emails) became known to the wrong people, compelling his resignation. As McBride - or "McPoison" as Peter Mandelson used to call him - heads off into the night, the Government's official line will be: "business as usual". We will be encouraged to think that this was a trivial story which spiralled out of control, forcing a back-room adviser to fall on his sword.

Don't believe a word of it (as if you would). These messages were sent from a Downing Street email address, by an adviser to HM Government whose salary you, as a taxpayer, paid until his resignation this afternoon. It is a mark of a truly corrupt regime that it ceases to understand, morally or intellectually, the distinction between party and government: for those who suffer from this delusion, the smearing of Labour's opponents is intrinsically in the public interest precisely because it is in the party interest.

And don't say they didn't warn us: in the 1997 manifesto, Tony Blair wrote that New Labour was "the political arm of none other than the British people as a whole." Patently, it was, and is, no such thing. But those words were a grim prophecy of what was to come, and how it would all end.

McBride has gone. But the mentality he personified survives in the corridors and offices of Whitehall. There are 417 days until June 3, 2010, the last possible day on which the general election can be held. It isn't over yet.

My column in tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph is all about the fall of McBride.