Why, many politics watchers must have asked this week, was there so much spin deployed in an effort to rubbish the Cambridge Analytica revelations? And why the vicious and intrusive outing, with 10 Downing Street’s knowledge, of Shahmir Sanni by an ex-partner who just happens to now be political secretary to Theresa May? Could the next instalment of this story be that big? It certainly could. And now it’s here.
Earlier this week, I said that what began with the Cambridge Analytica revelations would turn out to be Phone Hacking Take 2. I have to confess that this was a necessary understatement. It is, for the various Leave campaigns and our Press Establishment, far worse. Because when I then said that the Brexit vote itself might be in doubt, this was because it was indeed in doubt. That is what the spin has attempted to cover up.
And what lame spin it has been: from the Daily Mail deploying their unfunny and tedious churnalist Richard Littlejohn to claim “Barack Obama’s gang did it too” (wrong), to Conservative Home’s Mark Wallace claiming nobody really understood the technology (wrong), to the efforts by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog to exonerate Alexander Nix and smear Chris Wylie, it has all been in vain.
Even the outing of Shahmir Sanni is being lamely spun, with the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who claims to be a journalist, Tweeting pointlessly “A late night statement from campaigning lawyers Bindmans - who refused to talk to the Sun last night - said the gentleman in question was not out. But claims have been met with incredulity in No10. Especially given he was at their Pride party with the PM”.
Our Prime Minister is gay? Er, no. Being at a Pride party does not mean the attendees are all gay, or indeed out. Master Cole was never the sharpest tool in the box, but good to see Bindmans treating the obnoxious SOB with the respect he merits - none at all.
Why this is to no avail will come clear later on Channel 4 News, on whose behalf Hayley Barlow has told “Tonight at 6.30pm on Channel 4 News: PM's political secretary - Stephen Parkinson - and No 10 are under fire - for ‘outing’ an ex-boyfriend and Shahmir Sanni blows the whistle to this programme with sensational claims about the EU referendum”.
How sensational are the claims he will make, and which are likely to be followed up in tomorrow’s Observer? Have a look at this Tweet from Andrew Adonis: “This is the big Brexit story of the weekend. It looks as if parts of the Leave campaign may have been a criminal conspiracy”. Milord presents the very model of understatement.
The central allegation is that not only was there improper behaviour by various parts of the Leave campaign, but that there was a conspiracy between those supposedly independent campaigns, which we are meant to believe were not getting on with one another.
Put directly, the whole Brexit vote is now in serious trouble. And all that those involved in this up to their necks can do is smear viciously and claim they are the victims of “powerful people”. You wondered why there had been all that spin? Now you know.
Someone thought they could get away with breaking the law. But someone was wrong.