Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The snark hunt has officially begun!

Well, he made it by five votes after Nick Brown's mystery change of principles. It reminds me of the old crack about William Hague being against the Euro "in principle" but only for the length of a parliament - that is to say that his principles lasted a maximum of five years. Mr. Brown's lasted a few weeks. The rumour machine is running on full power, with all media pouring forth thousands of words of speculation about Gordon Brown's role in the affair. Personally I am an extreme sceptic about Blairbrownery, I think it's largely the product of speculating about things that are unknowable. So I will make no comment. I suspect it's really a story about old-fashioned whips office, black book bullying.

The big burst came later, though, with the loanshark-influenced Sun's claimed leak of the Hutton Report. Quite in keeping with the "newspaper"'s strangely contradictory position of lauding Tony Blair whilst pouring vitriol on his government, policies, appearance, family and probably underpants, the Sun claims to have seen a "precis of Lord Hutton's conclusions" which exonerates - well - everybody except those pesky journalists. Not even Geoff Hoon. Curiously, their political editor Trevor Kavanagh stated on the BBC Today programme that the leak came from someone who stood to make neither financial nor political gain. Most extraordinary. Somebody was really so exercised by a moral need to advance the date of publication by some twelve hours that they decided to place themselves in contempt of court for no reward! What a paragon of virtue! Strangely enough, though, they did not bestow their gift without discrimination - they selected one particular newspaper!

How strange.

Mind you - I'm keeping a provisional BS rating on this, especially as Mr Kavanagh took care to deny that he had seen the report, or even (if I understand the word precis correctly) extracts of its text. He remarked to the BBC that they would have been equally keen to publish had the leak claimed that it was all Tony Blair's fault as if this was interesting. Who would not have been keen to publish? The next phase, of course, is the mole hunt. Who would not gain politically and had an advance copy? (We may assume that Kavanagh's remark about financial gain means that they received no moneys directly from the Sun. Someone will make it worth their while.)

Alistair Campbell has been the first out of the traps to deny everything. The damage is done, though - the public mind seized.

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