Analysis: 'Sneering at Tories with lies counteracts Labour's aims'
THE internet is a force for freedom. The Chinese state employs 10,000 censors to monitor it and still they fail, so Labour's attempts to enact control over the web in a liberal democracy were always going to hit a few bumps.
But that wasn't going to stop them trying. So the party's general secretary, Ray Collins, and the Prime Minister's head of strategy, Damian McBride, brought in Derek Draper to be a tame blogger. Mr Draper then set up Labourlist.org and was promised access to ministers.
It was launched at Labour HQ and Mr McBride's old colleague Charlie Whelan provided Mr Draper's funding from Unite's political fund, the trade union he now works for.
They then pursued the unsustainable charade that the project was independent of the Labour Party.
If it had been an overtly Labour HQ project, then Mr Draper would have been accountable for his excesses and without doubt, Mr McBride would have baulked at using an official Labour channel for his smear tactics.
Sneering at Tories with lies about sexually transmitted diseases, mental health problems or homosexuality counteracts the very noblest aims of the Labour movement.
We believe in equality for all regardless of their sexuality and we believe in reducing the stigma associated with sexually transmitted diseases and mental health problems, not least so that people will seek early treatment.
Politics is the means by which a country is run and good politics means a country is run well.
But politics is also the name of a silly game played by silly boys in the Westminster bubble.
It's a fun game, I fully admit, and sometimes it just has to be played. But when playing a game is your ambition and your daily motivation, it's time to grow up.
Mr McBride and Mr Draper suffered from being in the Westminster bubble where all they saw was the game; where a lie here or a smear there are just bishops and rooks on a chessboard.
Somehow they had lost sight of that other politics – that which is concerned only with delivering a secure, fulfilling and sustainable society for its citizens.
Anonymous rumours have always been part of politics, although in the past they would be disseminated over boozy lunches on journalists' expense accounts.
This was the foundation of the cosy relationship between lobby journalists and their political sources. Yet with the emergence of blogs and anonymised e-mail accounts, politicians now have access to new vehicles for their gossip-mongering.
Blogger "Guido Fawkes" has benefited from a range of such tips, including those that have led to official investigations of think-tank The Smith Institute and of former chairwoman of the Conservative Party, Caroline Spelman.
I know many Labour figures who shun these silly games. There are many more who, like me, enjoy playing a game from time to time but who don't let it get in the way of more noble, long-term objectives. But this week, until this embarrassment dies down, every single one of us will look like a duplicitous, power-mad fool.
• Alex Hilton is the editor of www.labourhome.org, an independent blog aimed at grassroots Labour members
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