So Young Dave is relaxed about the whole business. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?
Relaxed was not how the Tories were in the dog days of “Shagger” Major’s leadership, after several of their MPs were fingered by the Guardian and shown in a less than positive light. Jonathan Aitken, Tim Smith, and most enjoyably for those of us in the North West, Neil Hamilton, all suffered an unwelcome end to their political careers.
Aitken’s was the most spectacular fall from grace, when his mission to “wield the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play” was ended after he was shown to be prepared to get one of his children to lie on his behalf. Aitken had been involved with the Saudis. Smith and Hamilton had made a yet more dubious call, to do business with Mohammed “you can call me Al” Fayed.
Tim Smith had, memorably, won an improbable by-election victory for the Tories in Ashfield, back in 1977. He couldn’t hold on to the seat in the following General Election, but was well enough regarded to be selected to fight another by-election, this time in the safe seat of Beaconsfield, in 1982. His Labour opponent, tipped at the time for great things by party leader Michael Foot, was a smart young man called Tony Blair.
Smith could have stayed an MP as long as he desired: unfortunately, he was fingered for taking cash to ask questions in parliament on behalf of the deeply unpleasant Fayed. The Guardian dubbed him “The Dishonourable Member”: Smith resigned as an MP, and left politics. It would be different with Hamilton.
Mostyn Neil Hamilton came from the right of the Tory tradition. Selected to fight the Tatton constituency in 1983, he was married to the formidable Christine just a few days before the poll. Except in the House of Commons, she was always at his side. But Hamilton also got fingered for taking Fayed’s cash. The Guardian’s front page, appearing during the 1997 General Election campaign (when he lost Tatton to Martin Bell) showed an unflattering photo, and above it, in large and bold letters, “A Liar and a Cheat”.
Yes, the Guardian has previous with the Tories. But that doesn’t mean that it goes in to bat for Labour: if that were the case, Young Dave would not have got his recent coverage. But that thought is starting to blind some to the seriousness of what is being unearthed in Nick Davies’ probing of the Murdoch empire.
I’ll look at that next.