With all the noise and space taken up by the continuation of Phonehackgate, the latest numbers on the economy, and the aftermath of the grim news from Norway, one news item has managed to sneak out almost unnoticed. Moreover, it’s been massaged to make it look other than what it is.
As the heading of this post suggests, the news event follows from the actions of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole, the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere, at the Guido Fawkes blog. Through the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics – in reality a front organisation for the less than dynamic duo to go after politicians they don’t like – a complaint was made against Chris Huhne.
This was the second attempt by Staines and Cole to pin an election expense irregularity on the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh, the first having been thrown out at the end of May. Second time round, though, the Fawkes bloggers were sure of their ground, with Cole hectoring Mark Pack “Why are you putting your neck on the line for a politician who in all likelihood will be out the door any minute?”.
Staines added “my tanks are real and we have him firmly in our sights. He won’t survive”, demonstrating an inflated sense of self-worth, and the belief that politicians can be removed merely by throwing dirt at them on his blog. So, accompanied by the assertion that he and Cole had “been looking into Huhne’s election returns for nearly a year”, this looked a dead cert.
And so it came to pass that the Electoral Commission gave their judgment on the complaint. The Fawkes blog reported the event as an exclusive (it wasn’t), telling “Commisson Order LibDem Expenses Review”. Cole’s piece was the biggest heap of rank, steaming bullshit I had seen for, oh, at least half a day. This was spin on a scale that would shame Malcolm Tucker and Alastair Campbell both.
Because what the Electoral Commission had said was that, barring a ten quid under-reporting of website costs and a reminder to Huhne on letter imprints, they had found no fault, concluding that “the Commission do not believe that further action is required”. The Sunlight Centre complaint had been thrown out.
And thus another glorious failure was chalked up by Staines and Cole. Just how much more of this success can they manage? And how much had they bet and lost this time?