Like most people, I'd never heard of Damien McBride until today. He was one of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's senior advisers and he has been forced to quit after the leaking of the contents of emails he sent to Derek Draper, who runs the pro-Labour blog, Labourlist.
The emails fell into the hands of one Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, a notorious anti-Labour blogger who leaked the contents into the public domain. The aforementioned emails purportedly contained possible lines of a smear attack on senior Conservative Party figures and their families.
The conservative blogsphere and activists on sites like politicalbetting have whipped themselves up into a frenzy over this but it's hard to see anyone else getting excited about it. I suspect, though I may be wrong, that Guido is as much anti-Government as he is anti-Labour and he will make life uncomfortable for a future Conservative Government.
That said, this affair has left me with the following thoughts:
1) Not for the first time, the Labour Government has been undone by its use of email. It's a curious thing but people will use language in emails they wouldn't use in a letter or even in a phone call but emails can be intercepted and can be produced in evidence. Too often, they have been used for saying the unsayable rather than as a channel of communication. It's a lesson others should take note.
2) Is this the best Labour can do ? Is all they have in the locker at the next election personal smears and innuendo ? There is much about the Conservative programme and policies that can be questionned and I suspect there are plenty of questions the Tories would rather aren't asked during the election campaign. I think the Tories are coasting on the wave of anti-Labour feeling and have so far failed in my view to come up with anything coherent on the recession or on a whole range of issues.
The latest attempt by Tory hardman, Chris Grayling, to come up with serious policies to back up the "broken Britain" mantra is the concept of "instant community punishments". What does that mean ? Kangaroo courts of local vigilantes or local residents with carte blanche to decide what to do with anyone they don't like in their neighbourhood ?
Yet Grayling's comments have scarcely been challenged by a Labour Government which seems paralysed and unable to respond.