[Update at end of post]
After all the stings on politicians over the past decade and a half, and similar embarrassments surrounding the Royal Family, one might think that those working in the service of parties supposedly without money worries would steer clear from anything that could gift the Fourth Estate another field day. But that thought was misplaced, as today’s revelations have shown.
The Murdoch – yes, Murdoch – Sunday Times has stung Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas, with a covertly filmed video showing him claiming that “Premier League” donors – those willing to open their wallets wide enough to let out the odd quarter of a million notes – would get access not only to Young Dave, but also to 10 Downing Street and Chequers, both houses being public resources.
Hang on, that's not the Sunday Times
Worse, Cruddas also claimed that those making that level of donation would have direct input into Government policy. So that’s cash for policy in addition to misuse of Government property, then. Needless to say, the hapless Cruddas was soon on his way through the exit door, with his party spinning the whole business as not having had any influence – well, maybe not yet.
So far, so problematic for the Tories, coming after the adverse perception of last week’s Budget by so much of the media. But the thought then enters that one master gatherer of inside and leaked information was absent from the sting: step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, and who only got to hear about the affair from the ST.
Staines and his tame gofer, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, didn’t even get a sniff. And what’s worse, the Fawkes blog has never even picked up Peter Cruddas on its radar. For a co-treasurer, someone whose job is raking in the money, to not even attract a mention on a blog that supposedly majors on exposing sleaze is not just eyebrow-raising, but a serious lapse.
Why should this be? Well, one hates to mention it, but the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere have been caught looking the other way. They had no problem lapping up information about Will “Thirsty” Lewis and his role at News International, while not thinking that the Murdoch press might have fancied a bit of the kind of expose that the Telegraph titles managed while Lewis was there.
And then the less than dynamic duo have been dedicating rather a lot of time to recycling knocking copy about Ken Livingstone in an effort to show that they have real influence, a pointless exercise given that more London swing voters will read the Standard or Telegraph than look in on the Fawkes blog. Once more, the Great Guido was elsewhere when the news was being broken.
Another fine mess, once again.
[UPDATE 26 March 1245 hours: having not even had a sniff before the supposed "Dead Tree Press" caused an unwanted earthquake in the vicinity of Downing Street late on Saturday, Staines and Cole have been working hard today to get on board the story bandwagon and give the impression that they are on the ball.
So the Fawkes blog has been recycling stuff about the PM's residence from the 10 Downing Street website, followed by the less than shock horror revelation that among "Premier League" donors to the Tory Party in recent years has been one Adrian Beecroft. But we already know about him, after a report he wrote for the PM last year.
And pitching the name of JCB boss Anthony Bamford might not be the wisest of ideas, given his largesse also helps fund the dubiously talented array of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA), who are good friends of Staines and Cole. Wouldn't do to drop the TPA's backers in the poo, chaps]