Stephen Glover’s media column in the Indy rakes over the Labourgraph’s dishonest handling of Smeargate. It is a pretty fair summary of the affair which Guido went over briefly here. Suffice to say the Labourgraph’s political team don’t come out of either account very well.
Glover reckons Ben Brogan is the best hope of restoring a semblance of sane editorial coherence from the Telegraph‘s political reporting:
Last week, Ben Brogan joined The Daily Telegraph as its chief political commentator, having been political editor of the Daily Mail. Perhaps he will help restore some balance to the paper’s political coverage. On the one hand, its political staff has been closer than was prudent to No 10. On the other, Simon Heffer has been tossing rotten cabbages from the right in the direction of the Cameroons.
Disorder has flourished under the editorship of a man, Will Lewis, who is neither a natural Tory nor especially knowledgeable about politics. Brogan’s role will be partly to mend fences with David Cameron, but there is also a good deal of general reconstructive work to be done to the paper’s political reputation. How could The Daily Telegraph ever get so close to a man like Damian McBride?
Ben Brogan is a good journalist, his blog was just about the only MSM political reporting blog that Guido really respected as a competitor. Most hacks use their blogs for stuff they can’t get in the paper. Brogan’s Daily Mail blog was often better than his stuff in the paper and it was very much a real-time competitor. There is however one prophetic blog post that Guido suspects he would rather forget. It was written after McBride’s 3 a.m. knifing of Ruth Kelly:
One Day the Truth About McBride Will Out
03 October 2008
When the Day of Reckoning comes and those of us who know are free to say what we know, Damian McBride will emerge with great credit from the madness of the past few years. … When the cry went up that there had to be changes in No 10, what they meant was McBride had to go. By the time we left Manchester he was being blamed for everything, including the credit crunch and the disappearance of Shergar. Such was his influence that like Macavity his prints were seen on every bit of damaging briefing. It became easy to blame him for every transgression, real or imagined. In fact, he was a victim of his own success. Damian is many things, but not an innocent. His role, by its nature, involved bad business at the crossroads.
But the McPoison of caricature is just that. There is far more to him than most realise. Few can match him for political insight, mischief making exuberance, stamina or that see-round-a-corner skill that few in politics possess. His intelligence was always Grade A, whether it was on election outcomes or how power was flowing. The Tories certainly have nothing like him, save perhaps George Osborne.
What does his departure mean for Gordon Brown? McBride remains in No 10 as an adviser on long-term strategy. The PM will continue to have him to hand. But his enemies will be on the look-out for signs that he is still speaking to the likes of me, so I don’t expect him to return phone calls for a while. Which means the PM will be without the best media handler he’s had. We’ll miss the service, not to mention the in-flight quizzes, and perhaps that’s no bad thing. He may wonder whether it was wise to give up a high-flier’s career in the Civil Service to run away with this circus. Of course, I’m an unreliable witness. But I’m certain of this: you will read a lot in the coming days about Damian McBride, and you shouldn’t believe more than a fraction of it. The true story is far better.
Or perhaps far worse.