The most revealing aspect of the latest revelations about the Labour internet smear campaign is that there still appear to be advisors left at Westminster who believe it is actually possible to further ‘smear’ politicians.
The sad reality is that politicians from all parties (here included) have been doing such an impressive job of smearing themselves of late — what with their second home claims, partner porn expenses and general all-round greed — that it’s hard to see how a few gossipy lies about some members’ supposed private lives are now going to up the ante.
That doesn’t appear to have registered with Damian McBride, special advisor (make that former special advisor) to Gordon Brown, who came up with the bright idea of creating an internet blog-site and then feeding it fanciful smear stories about top Tories.
Apart from further smearing New Labour itself, what the latest ‘revelations’ actually reveal to the rest of us is just how very out of touch the political elite are with the electorate they’re supposed to serve.
Out here in the real world right now the crucial question that concerns voters following any ‘revelation’ about any politician is the back-to-basics one.
“How much is this going to cost us?”
Sex slurs and gossip about political private lives don’t have anything like the same resonance in these recessionary times.
Read an allegation that some MP or other may have previously suffered from an Embarrassing Illness and the first thing you want to know these days is not “What Embarrassing Illness?”
But, “Did they claim for the prescription on their expenses?”
Of course, the other revealing aspect of revelations about the smear campaign is the absolute hash New Labour have made of it.
The internet slurs were sent from McBride to another former Labour advisor Derek Draper (now Mr Kate Garraway) but inexplicably ended up on the blog-site of Paul Staines who labours under the name Guido Fawkes.
With his Fawkesian moustache and beard, Staines not only looks like the Guy whose name he’s taken, he’s certainly produced the political fireworks as well.
McBride, meanwhile, who is known in Downing Street circles as McPoison and Mad Dog, may not look as nasty as his nicknames suggest but few commentators appear to have a good word to say about him.
Overall you have to wonder what sort of political judgement is at play generally at Westminster that allows the likes of McBride to reach the very top? A man, that is, who believes that spilling gossipy slurs via an anonymous internet site is any way to conduct honourable politics.
The answer is, of course, that we no longer live in an era of honourable politics. (Ok I accept it’s unlikely we ever did, but there are degrees of dishonour.)
Most telling of all, perhaps, Labour, on top of all its other woes, emerges this week as a party that can’t even organise a spin-op on the blogosphere.
Greedy, vile, bungling and ineffective
That just about sums up how most voters now regard not just the Government, but politicians in general.
There are no obvious knights on white chargers standing on the sidelines. Here in Northern Ireland too, the general sense is of the political class being in it only for what they can make out of it.
The original Guido Fawkes wanted to blow up the political establishment.
The irony is that all these years later politics is finally self-imploding.
Which can hardly come as a surprise.
Given all those rockets involved in the process.