The Brown Bunker and the Nixon White House

Trust and dignity are two of the essential ingredients of successful governance, especially in times of crisis. However, Downing Street under Gordon Brown smells the same as the White House under Richard Nixon – an ironic legacy for a PM so boastful of his origins as a Son of the Manse. There has been a dirty tricks campaign at the very heart of No 10, in which a senior member of HM Government, whose comfortable salary was paid for by the taxpayer, used a Downing Street email address to send out his vile smears. The symmetries with Watergate are real though the Tory Central Office has not, as far as we know, been burgled; nor is there a special unit of Brownite “Plumbers”, tasked to steal the medical records of enemies of New Labour. But what these messages reveal, apart from a complete absence of moral restraint, is an absolute confusion of party and state. All those years ago, in the 1997 party manifesto, Tony Blair declared that New Labour was “the political arm of none other than the British people as a whole”. At the time, it just sounded like the usual meaningless boloney of Phony Tony but it turns out that he actually meant it. His successor’s henchmen took the terrifying equivalence of party and people to the next level and equated party with state, and party interest with national interest.

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