UK Labour’s dirty politics

April 13th, 2009 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Most readers will be up with the latest in UK politics, but for those who are not, let me tell the story from the beginning.

The centre-right (like in many countries) has had stronger voices in the UK blogosphere. The two most popular blogs are run by Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes ().

Dale is a former Conservative candidate and staffer. Also a successful politics niche publisher who through his blog has become a very influential commentator – both online, and in the traditional media. He also happens to be gay, making it very hard for Labour to stereotype him as a typical consservative Tory.

Paul Staines is not a member of any party. He is basically a wealthy libertarian and while he is from the centre right, he has attacked many Conservative figures also including David Cameron and the Party Chairwoman over her expenses. Staines does a lot of investigative journalism and has been responsible for a couple of very senior resignations from within the Government.

None of the left wing blogs caught on to the same degree, so set up LabourList and got Derek Draper to run it. Draper is a former Labour activist and lobbyist who swapped careers to become a psychotherapist after it was revealed he boasted to clients that he had so much influence he could get tax breaks for clients.

The LabourList website is nominally independent but has rarely criticise the Government, and has launched personal attacks on Dale and Staines, calling them racist (because Dale defended Carol Thatcher’s golliwog comment).

Then we have the revelations this week, that Draper was working with a senior advisor to PM to set up another website – Red Rag – and this one would be full of smears about Conservative Party MPs. The advisor, Damian McBride, is very senior – Brown’s former personal press secretary and now Head of Strategy. He has resigned.


The News of the World has full coverage of the attempted smears.Also good coverage in The Times.

The strategy included:

  • spreading rumours that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne took drugs and had sex with a prostitute, including that they allude to non existent secret tapes.
  • spreading rumours about the mental health of Osborne’s wife and suggesting this will be used as an excuse to demote him.
  • challenging Cameron to reveal details of an “embarrassing illness”, ie a venereal disease and demanding he release full medical records.
  • Accusing a gay Tory MP of promoting his partner’s business interests in the Commons.
  • Suggesting photos exist of Osborne “posing in a bra, knickers and suspenders” and “with his face ‘blacked up’”
  • Concocting a tale about backbench Tory Nadine Dorries having a one night stand with a colleague, and hinting a sex aid was left behind in the hotel room

They even taught about how to “sequence” the stories for maximum impact, using timing and technology, and including links to suggestive photographs.

Huge congrats go to Guido, who got hold of the e-mails and exposed all this. He has an amazing track record in exposing wrong doing. It shows how desperate people get to retain power.

It also shows how relatively tame things are back in NZ. The worst “invented gossip” we had to endure was the fantasy smear over John Key “buying” his Helensville seat in exchange for donations totalling $1.5 million. I have always wondered whose idea that smear was.

13 Responses to “UK Labour’s dirty politics”

  1. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    So Helen got the cosy UN job, Cullen got the Dep. Chair of an SOE – What did Mike Williams get? – well maybe he got to sell the strategic plan

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  2. PhilBest (5,004 comments) says:

    I have read “Dirty Politics, Dirty Times” by Lord Michael Ashcroft, and heartily recommend it.

    Basically, the Conservatives in the UK had all this trouble with the MSM; smearing and rolling good men like William Hague Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard; Lord Ashcroft devoted large budgets and teams of high powered lawyers for years to go after the scum who were responsible for what were barefaced lies and eventually smashed one or two of the combinations responsible, with editorial staff getting sacked and one or two people even getting jailed. The whole MSM in the UK has been taught the hard way to be more responsible.

    But this certainly looks like the socialists have moved their dirty work to the blogosphere.

    Full marks to the “right wing” bloggers who expose this sort of rot. We need more like them; DPF is getting there; Whale Oil and Ian Wishart have led the way but the overall impact in NZ is not high enough yet.

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  3. Kimble (4,647 comments) says:

    Mmm, a lefty attack site secretly funded and run by lefty staffers set up for the sole purpose of opposing genuinely intelligent and popular centre right blogs. Standard.

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  4. Redbaiter (12,022 comments) says:

    Remember people, the battle is always going to be against the cowardly deceit of the left. Nothing is beyond these totalitarian scum, and they will do anything to discredit and destroy those who stand in the way of their poisonous ideology.

    They are parasites, leechers and a cancer within us that has been afforded far too much tolerance.

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  5. Redbaiter (12,022 comments) says:

    A good article on this kind of thing.

    Go there.

    Read it people.

    Its well worth it.

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  6. Ross Miller (1,767 comments) says:

    Hmmmmmmm … the similarity between this and the efforts by a terminally troubled NZ Labour Government last year (witness the ‘H-Fee’ debacle) are remarkable.

    And both led to resignations. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

    Sez a lot though about the mindsets in both socialist camps.

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  7. PhilBest (5,004 comments) says:

    Great stuff, Redbaiter. If only NZ could get that kind of grassroots action going, we wouldn’t have been so far gone for so many years already.

    Sorry this is slightly peripheral to this thread, but Kimberly Strassell at the Wall Street Journal just wrote THIS:

    “The Tories Are No Example for the GOP:
    Beating a tired opponent doesn’t vindicate an incoherent ideology.”

    “British conservatives are once again on the rise. American conservatives: Don’t be fooled.

    Since last year’s electoral wipeout, the Republican Party has been in a debate over how to remake itself. Some have pointed to Britain’s Conservative Party, which is today poised — after 12 long years — to regain power.

    Conservative Party leader David Cameron, we are told, has crafted a “modern conservatism” which is well past all that Thatcherite talk of free markets, tax cuts and individual freedom. This conservatism is caring and recognizes the role of government; it connects with citizens and worries about day care and global warming. If only the GOP would emulate its British cousins, so the argument goes, it might forge that lasting conservative majority.

    It’s true the Cameroons (as they are referred to by disaffected Tories) are on track to win next year’s general election. It is also true that this has little to do with the non-philosophy the Cameroons have been spinning to the public. The next election will instead be a referendum on a worn-out Labour movement. If Conservatives win, it will be because the party has made itself less offensive to the electorate than those currently in charge. And that, American friends, is no way to rebuild a party……

    “………Much of the Tories’ “modern conservatism” consists of reassuring voters about what it won’t do. It won’t dismantle a failing national health-care system. It won’t disavow failing public schools. It won’t resist higher tax rates on the “rich.” Beyond this bold agreement with the status quo, the party has refused to articulate its own agenda, lest any part go down badly with voters.

    “Mr. Cameron’s conservatives have learned the Blair lesson of focus groups all too well,” says James Delingpole, British author of “Welcome to Obamaland.” “What you are about to have elected in this country is not a party of political principle but of political opportunism.”

    Mr. Cameron has been at this revamp for years, but only recently did Conservatives start to gain traction. This coincided closely with growing public anger with the Labour Party and its new leader, Gordon Brown.

    Polls show the public is furious with Labour’s handling of the financial crisis, which also helped expose a dozen years of unrestrained Labor spending. The party has been hit with an embarrassing scandal tied to parliamentarians’ perks. Mr. Brown, in his nearly two years as prime minister, has enraged voters with tax hikes and by reneging on a promise to hold early elections. Mr. Cameron has carefully avoided giving them a reason to dislike the alternative.

    Many Conservatives here fear Mr. Cameron will become prime minister, only to be quickly exposed as a poll-driven “heir to Blair” who treads water a few years and then loses. What every American should understand is that this is not a test of “modern conservatism.” It’s a test only of whether an opposition that voices no coherent ideology can succeed when the ruling party stumbles……”


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  8. Redbaiter (12,022 comments) says:

    The mainstream media would have spiked this story.

    Phil, the absence of any real counter ideology within the UK opposition and the NZ government is a sign of how firm a grip th left have on our culture.

    That is why the right have missed the boat.

    They have completely over looked the left’s gradual assault upon our culture and their strategy of interweaving leftist ideology into our everyday lives.

    All of the National Party need to be locked in a room and forced to read about Gramsci and cultural hegemony until they choke on it.

    Ineffectual lazy ideologically stunted dimbulbs. What use are they??

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  9. george (325 comments) says:

    In contrast, the centre-right in New Zealand had the integrity never even to use the Cullen Issue, even though it was true.

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  10. georgedarroch (306 comments) says:

    If parties have open finances (tell me a good reason why they should be secret) then there is no way that they could be accused of giving safe seats to large donors.

    [DPF: Of course they can. You simply then allege it was private bribes. Those who invent smears will not stop]

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  11. georgedarroch (306 comments) says:

    I have no problem with parties saying things, if they are true, and relate politically to the person in question.

    I have huge problems with parties saying things they do not know to be true, or do not relate politically to the person in question.

    I’ve seen plenty on either side of the house that falls into either category. Needless to say, questions that relate to a MPs sexual affairs, mental and physical health, their family, and other aspects of their private life are despicable. Even MPs who voted against the civil unions legislation were not outed, (for example), because generally people have enough dignity to realise that this wrong. Unfortunately there are some in NZ who do not.

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  12. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    Tune : An English Country Garden

    A lot of Tory Ministers flitted to and fro
    To a stately Clifton garden
    Some of them got caught, as now we all know
    In a stately Clifton Garden

    It started with Profumo, who soon let Alex Hulme know
    Soon all of Pimlico was involved (except big Ben)
    And the Queen thought it was sinister it didn’t happen in Westminster
    Instead of a stately Clifton garden

    Lord Grafton was obscene with the Honorable Francene Green
    On a stately Clifton garden
    And on the Lords’ green sward he did seduce Dame Irene Ward
    Instead of on a stately Clifton Garden

    When the PM heard of this
    He said ‘make up wif a kiff, and I’ll twansfer you both to the foreign orifith
    And still the Duke thought it immoral they didn’t do it at Balmoral
    Instead of a stately Clifton Garden

    Wilson. Always there was Wilson
    Wilson. The best Tory was Wilson.


    Never forget the damnation that two girls can cause. Kristine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies still dine out on the events that led to the penning of this parody.

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  13. Rich Prick (3,019 comments) says:

    Lets not forget Mike Williams wee trip to Menlbourne to dig for dirt that didn’t exist. Labour is what Labour does … the world over by all appearances.

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