Sunday 12 April 2009

McBride and Draper: the strangest of allies

There are many sensible things to be said about how to learn the lessons of the McBride-Draper smear fiasco. Sunny Hundal is saying several of them at Liberal Conspiracy.

I will come back to the substance. But let me lapse into some real inside baseball, of no consequence whatsoever.

My hope is certainly that this episode drives a death stake through the politics of factionalism and personal destruction. But I haven't seen much mention of just how odd it was for Derek Draper to be as thick as thieves with Damian McBride and Charlie Whelan.

Take Derek's piece, on 'King Gordon? No Chance' piece for Comment is Free a year before the Labour leadership transition.

If I am wrong ... the formidable political forces that surround Blair will simply lay down their arms and meekly hail the Chancellor's elevation - a man they hate and who hates them ... But the Blairites ruthlessly knifed Brown back in 1994, showing the man no mercy. Since then there has been nothing but rancour and bitterness between Blair and Brown and their coteries. No, all my political instincts and all my understanding of psychology, lead me to doubt the accepted wisdom

I remember this because we had an interesting exchange on the site. I pointed out that his analysis was "tosh" and would appeal to about a dozen people in the Labour Party including none of the thinking Blairites, which elicited this quite amusing response from Derek.

You may scoff at the idea of a dozen bunker Blairites pulling that off but I was there, in the bunker, (to my shame) when less than a dozen "modernisers" got a shallow, presentable, cliche-spouting front-man elected in 1994. Who's to say it couldn't happen again?

(It remains slightly difficult to get a handle on Derek's politics at that point - in that he was presenting himself as a deeply disillusioned ex-Blairite, while being 'anybody but Gordon', without having any particular view as to who or what he might be for).

Anyway, the following week I offered to recruit Simon Heffer for the Draper bunker but the spat was defused by Derek, with some charm.

Three years on, Draper was working with his ex-sworn enemies to their own mutual self-destruction. No doubt this was deep tribal loyalty, rooted in not much else. Perhaps it was as much the adrenalin rush of the thrill of the chase. I remain slightly baffled. A psychologist could have a field day.

PS: I am discussing what all of this means with Iain Dale on the Westminster Hour around 10pm tonight (Sunday) and again with Matthew d'Ancona on Today some time after 8.30am on Monday. UPDATE: Won't be on Today, having been on tonight. (I did tell them I was about to go on that immediately they called me, of course, but then got called back anyway after it was on).

1 comment:

Silent Hunter said...

Well Sunder, I'm glad to see that you still feel shame.

This means that redemption from Labour may still be possible for you.