How short the political memories of some must be: after the latest, shall we say, unfortunate incident to dog the career of Grant “Spiv” Shapps has come an all too familiar riposte. It was a Labour Party hit job, so he claims. That would be the same riposte that was deployed in 2009 when the deeply subversive Guardian first told the world about Phonehackgate. It was bullshit in 2009, and it’s bullshit now.
At least he wasn't giving up sniffing glue
So what’s the story this time? Shapps, it has been suggested, was behind an account called contribsx which made edits to Wikipedia pages for himself, and other well-known Tories. As the Guardian notes, “The online encyclopedia, where pages are edited and created by readers, has tracked the changes made by a user called ‘Contribsx’ who has systematically removed embarrassing references on Shapps’ Wikipedia page about the Tory chairman’s business activities as Michael Green”.
This looks like sock-puppetry, and that is not permitted by Wikipedia. So far, so embarrassing, but instead of issuing a denial and otherwise deploying a straight bat, Shapps has decided to double down: he has asserted that Labour is behind it. Thus the CCHQ mindset: it’s bad for the Tories, and it’s in the Guardian, therefore it must be a Labour hit. No other thought is allowed to enter.
And Shapps has also claimed that it was “a well-known Labour blogger” who was working with a Wikipedia editor. Newsnight’s Chris Cook Tweeted that the suggestion had been made that the serially tenacious Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads was behind it. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with that idea - it was bollocks. Ireland is not at present allied to the Labour Party in any way.
Moreover, he is standing as an Independent candidate at the General Election. The idea that he would be involved in this is preposterous: Shapps is just lashing out because Ireland has recently exposed Shapps’ dishonesty (see it HERE).
That has not stopped (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries from having her ninepence worth, telling “I am absolutely 100% certain that the @grantshapps Wiki story is a set up and I hope the police are involved and get to the bottom of it … I even think I know the people who may be involved in this particularly nasty dirty trick”. She hasn’t got the foggiest. So no change there, then.
[UPDATE 1555 hours: the Wikipedia editor who blew the whistle on "contribsx" has been revealed to be a Lib Dem supporter. So it's not Labour HQ, and it's not Tim Ireland.
Shapps' previous form for this kind of thing has also been on display, such as during the 2007 Ealing Southall by-election, where he was outed by, you guessed it, Tim Ireland. Small wonder "Spiv" suggested it was him this time - it wasn't - as that name was probably the first thing to come into his head. And that should worry Tory supporters.
So will Shapps be apologising to everyone he's defamed so far in pursuit of his claim that he's, er, been defamed? Don't bet on it]