Stephen Tall of LibDemVoice makes a couple of significant observations about the relative role of newspapers and blogs in the allegations about William Hague, to which the Foreign Secretary responded with a personal statement
Firstly, that this was as much about newspapers as blogs. (As Next Left noted last Saturday - Hague warns press not to follow Guido's lead - William Hague appears to have been comparatively relaxed about the blog coverage, focusing on deterring newspapers from following up).
Secondly, that the first story about the appointment of a new Spad appeared in the Mail on Sunday on Sunday 21st August. The MoS was first to publish year-old pictures of William Hague and his adviser. (The inquiry and reporting about the appointment of a 4th adviser despite pledges to cut them is legitimate: the MoS placed much less emphasis on hinting at a relationship. Despite the extensive use of the photographs, many MoS readers wculd have read that without getting the further hint. The Telegraph diary was keener to make clear what it was hinting at; there was no difference in content or tone in the Telegraph diary item and the initial postings on the Guido Fawkes blog.
Paul Staines - of the Guido Fawkes blog - has pursued the story most energetically, managing to run seven or eight different items referencing it between 24th August and September 1st.
But it would appear he was following-up the story, and did not originate it.
- Sunday 21st August: Mail on Sunday story and pictures on the Sunday;
- Monday 22nd August: Paul Staines' Freedom of Information request trying to shift the focus onto the relationship angle on the Monday; - At least one other blogger - John Hirst of Jailhouse Lawyer - had run the relationship allegation on the Monday 22nd August, while the Mail and Telegraph reported in similar terms to the MoS.
- Tuesday 23rd August: The first Guido Fawkes' blog post "Just asking" on the Tuesday; which provided the content for the Telegraph diary and a further Mai;l news report on the Wednesday, then promoted by Paul Staines back on his blog, attempting to stir up Sunday newspapers and so on.
This strongly suggests to us that William Hague has an unidentified enemy who was the source for both the Mail's reporting and for Paul Staines' blog.
Interesting questions arise: who is behind the attempt to end the career of the Foreign Secretary?
Paul Staines' role would appear to be that of their most energetic - but not sole - assistant.
PS: Whether the allegations do have an impact on Hague's long-term political career remains to be seen. He has been widely seen as among the three most likely successors to David Cameron as Conservative Party, as can be seen by the betting odds on next leader. As with Michael Gove's difficulty with his schools plans, it seems probable that the odds on William Hague may well lengthen.