Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The silliest silly season story of all time ...

I thought we were moving from the silly season back into the grown-up world, but apparently not.

After a difficult week for the new leader of the Labour party, in which he faced horrendous headlines which ranged from legitimate concerns about his policies and associates to salacious gossip about his past private life, the left have got their own back over the past 48 hours as half the country has been sniggering at ridiculous, salacious and unverified allegations about the Prime Minister's student days.

Ironically most of the worst stuff in the papers in both cases has come not from open enemies but supposed allies. It has been Labour supporters and ex-supporters who have been behind a great deal of the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn in the press up to now - through that will change now that he is Labour leader and as elections approach -  and similarly the worst attacks on David Cameron have always come from the right, not the left.

This week's entire ludicrous set of allegations are remarkably reminiscent of a story which is often told about the late US President Lyndon B Johnson, who supposedly told his aides to spread an extremely similar tale about one of his opponents.

When a horrified flunky replied that they couldn't do that as the allegation wasn't true, LBJ is said to have replied that of course it wasn't but he wanted to force his enemy to deny it.

One suspects that both sides in this week's controversy are well aware of that story.

A Downing Street spokesman has said that the PM does not wish to dignify the allegations in yesterday's Daily Mail (and the book that they refer to) with a response.

I am very interested to know what policies Jeremy Corbyn might follow if he were PM and it is relevant to this who he associates with now and what things he has said. I could not care less who he may or may not have slept with three decades ago or how he dresses.

Similarly I am interested in the present Prime Minister's policies for this country and his style of government, but could not care less what silly things he may or may not have got up to as a student three decades ago.

Those involved in publishing this may well have done more damage to their own reputations than to that of David Cameron - and probably distracted attention from one or two more serious allegations which might otherwise have been followed up following their book.

It says something pathetic about the priorities of the media and the political class in this country that a truly outrageous allegation in the Sunday Times two days ago - that a serving general had effectively threatened any putative Corbyn-led Labour government with mutiny - resulted in a much more muted response in yesterday's news round than a bit of unverified salacious student gossip from nearly thirty years ago in yesterday's Daily Mail has caused today.


Jim said...

The silliest story off all time has to be the arguments about how to save the economy. Now luckily (more by chance than planned), the bottom falling out of the fuel market has helped, far more than any government decision has.

But to be honest when DC and Milliband were going head to head over "cuts" or what i would call lack of them, to me it was a little like 2 drunk people having a fight over the bar bill on the titanic.

Chris Whiteside said...

I understand where you are coming from but at least the argument over the economy was an attempt to address an important issue.