After the decision was taken to allow Police forces around the country to use their discretion in allowing an extension to the 12 month rule, the Tory Party’s election expenses scandal was effectively given the green light to rumble on, not helped by the characteristically slippery performance of former co-chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps when subjected to the inquisition of Andrew Neil on yesterday’s BBC Daily Politics.
That was not enough to close out the inevitable appearance of Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick later in the day, who had previously been focusing mainly on Shapps’ co-chairman Andrew Feldman. And why Crick had been doing this became crystal clear as what had been suspected for some time was finally admitted: Crick’s source was none other than disgraced ex-Tory activist Mark Clarke, now expelled from the party for life.
This is not a good look for Crick, whose reputation for fearless and non-partisan reporting has now been linked to the person who figures so prominently in the Tory Party’s continuing bullying scandal, following the death of young activist Elliott Johnson. It gets worse: Clarke had already been identified by this blog as being a source for two other media outlets, neither of which enjoys the status of Channel 4 News.
Yesterday afternoon, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog told their readers “Looks like the curse of Mark Clarke has hit a wall despite his best efforts in briefing Michael Crick”. Clarke has been close to the Fawkes mob and was on the guest list for their tenth anniversary bash in late 2014, where Staines and Cole cemented their position as establishment crawlers.
All of which means that Michael Crick and Channel 4 News are associating with the same kinds of people as the Murdoch Sun and the Guido Fawkes blog, and as a result going over much of the same ground. Perhaps that is why Grant Shapps had previously had a relatively easy time from Crick - after all, Shapps was Clarke’s pal too.
There is probably good reason to go after the Tories’ election expense régime. But it has to be stressed that Mark Clarke has good reason to deflect attention from the party’s bullying scandal. That alone should have caused Crick to exercise caution.