Smeargate - clean out the Augean stables

Is it just me or did yesterday's 'apology' from the Prime Minister seems slightly insincere and more of an attempt to shut down this whole storyline once and for all six days after the whole event broke?

This is just isn't good enough from the leader of this great country, especially as his supporters have now come to accept, as second nature, his unspoken approval to target any enemies, including those within their own party.

Clearly, the press seems to largely agree with this analysis, as some of the quotes below suggest:

"Gordon Brown finds his high ideals sucked down into the swamp. In seeking to dis-associate himself from his aide, Damian McBride, the prime minister has been tormented by a persistent problem - not of his making, but not of his rejecting either. That is that the conduct of politics today now appears to demand the kind of skills in character assassination displayed by Mr McBride in his series of e-mails to the former Labour aides, Derek Draper and Charlie Whelan."

"Brown has become addicted to the demolition of opponents both internal and external. The origins of this run deeper than the tactics of guerrilla warfare he licensed again the Blairites in government. Brown was of the generation that had seen Labour lose repeatedly, and was determined to ensure it did not happen again. The Tories, he calculated, started with so many advantages, such as press support and backing from the City, that Labour would have to be twice as cunning and robust to destroy them. He and Peter, now Lord, Mandelson, were well ahead of Tony Blair on this, pioneering the techniques of rapid rebuttal, spin and an obsession with a strict adherence to the message."

The story so far: Damian McBride, a spin-doctoring aide very close to Mr Brown, devised a series of lurid smears about David Cameron, the Conservative leader, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, his wife and others. They were meant for use on a scurrilous new website to be run by Derek Draper, a disgraced lobbyist turned psychotherapist turned re-disgraced internet propagandist, and were e-mailed to him from Mr McBride’s Downing Street address. Though the innuendoes were never deployed as intended, the e-mails were obtained by Paul Staines, a caustic anti-government blogger. Mr McBride resigned on April 11th. The aim of Mr Brown’s team since then has been to portray the sordid, if aborted, plot as aberrant freelancing by a rogue loner. It wasn’t. Mr McBride’s career, and the infantile antics that ended it, are hugely damaging precisely because they encapsulate some of the government’s most corrosive flaws. Some are noting that the Conservatives should be careful of not stretching this out and thus test voters patience. I disagree and, in my opinion, they should go hell for leather for a full independent inquiry into the role of the Cabinet Office in both the Smeargate affair and the Damien Green arrest to ensure that this culture of spin and innuendo is driven out once and for all from the highest office in the land.

THE stink of a cover-up hangs over Downing Street. Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell rules out an inquiry into whether minister Tom Watson knew about the “Smeargate” emails. He says he is happy to accept the minister’s denials, and the case is closed. That might be good enough for Sir Gus. It isn’t for The Sun. How can we know the full facts without an investigation, which means examining ALL emails involved? After all, Labour allow everybody else’s emails to be snooped on. Tom Watson was at the heart of Gordon Brown’s operations. He was in charge of Damian McBride, the Downing Street public servant who planned to smear Tories with obscene lies. Mr Brown’s mealy-mouthed “regrets” are no apology at all. Now we learn it is all to be swept under the carpet. And Mr Brown wonders why faith in Labour is draining away.

As the sun sets on this Labour administration, there needs to be a new politics for the UK.

To set that tone, David Cameron needs to promise the electorate that the politicisation of the civil service ends with his election and that its independence, and its reputation, is restored.

Nothing else will do.

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