That phrase was coined not about today’s politics, but those of the 1940s. So it might be concluded that nothing much changes.
Yes and no. The nature of the game, as witness Adlai Stevenson’s probing of the character of one Richard Milhous Nixon in the run up to the 1956 US Presidential Election, is as before. Perhaps we in the UK didn’t get as direct as electoral participants in the USA until more recently, but there are, especially in high profile contests, seemingly no holds barred.
So to today’s news: the blogosphere is filled with traffic (that’s as in the small amount of news and the much larger amount of comment) about an alleged Labour dirty tricks email campaign. The intended victims include the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet. I am not surprised. It was, after all, Osborne who smeared the Prime Minister with the suggestion of autism: that one will be in the book for payback.
Not that I am suggesting such behaviour is legitimate: merely that it’s entirely understandable. It’s nothing new. What is new is the speed at which events can unfold nowadays.
For many years, the conduit for this kind of thing would have been Private Eye. But the Eye is print media, and the alleged campaign is an electronic one. Also, the Eye comes out every fortnight, with the next issue published on April 17, so routing anything that way would have to wait: the blogosphere is there now.
Also, the blogosphere is a law unto itself. And it will be so, whatever the stripe of the governing party.
Meanwhile, the real world intrudes: shopping takes precedence this afternoon. Priorities, priorities.