The next move in the House of Cards

The House of Cards was a brilliant TV adaptation, by Andrew Davis of a book by Michael Dobbs, who was a Conservative Government Special Advisor and Chief of Staff during the Thatcher/Major years.

The programme created the legendary political villain, Francis Urquhart, whose immortal words "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment" became a synonymous with spindoctor trickery and malign unattributable briefings.

Here is just a small sample of Urquhart at his best (worst?..you might think that...)




And herein lies a problem; in real life villains are not signposted, nor do they have a camera pointing at them when the wicked stuff is done. The only bit we see is the public persona, groomed and mostly controlled. This is so often the only aspect we see of politicians and their bag men that they carry about them an air of credibility that is for the most part unjustified and false.

What you see in the Urquhart clip is a dramatisation of the side we rarely see, but nevertheless clearly exists. Maximilien Robespierre or Joseph Goebbels were proto spin doctors, people who knew the value of media manipulation, but who were also wedded to an evil cause. Both saw their roles as justifiable, to serve an end.

In the last century we had Watergate. A minor, but significant player in the drama was Donald Segretti. Segretti organised a dirty tricks campaign against the Democrats during the campaign to re-elect President Richard Nixon. According the Washington Post:

In 1974, he served 4 1/2 months in prison after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of distributing illegal campaign literature, including a letter falsely claiming that former senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson had fathered an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old girl.


This was only a sample of the material Segretti was circulating in a style of political sabotage that came to be known as Ratfucking. Segretti, by the way, was still active in politics as recently as 2000, when he served as co chair of John McCain's campaign in California. A protege of his, Karl Rove was tutored in the ways of the ratfucker and was later recorded advising others on the dark arts. Of course, this is the same Karl Rove who was so strong in the Bush administration and whose continued pursuit of his malign vocation is well documented, including the Plame affair. Rove resigned his powerful position in the Bush Administration amid a raft of investigations and accusations.

So far, I have tried to show that their is an archetype, a model for the kind of person who gains a significant position of power, usually around a president or a prime minister. These people rarely want the top job. What they seem to want is to subjugate and destroy. Not even their starting premise is noble, rather it is the exercise of tyranny for the sake of winning. There is no longer, in their minds, an issue of the right course of action, it is the winning course of action.

And now we come to Smeargate.

Who is left? Who fits the archetype? Who around Prime Minister Gordon Brown is at the heart of number ten, still spinning, still doing all he can to wriggle and weave?

The answer is, now after the small fry have been sacrificed, is one Tom Watson.

Watson has form: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/5149509/Tom-Watson-stops-twittering-amid-email-smear-row.html

He was sacked for plotting against Blair. It seems Watson has now done an Aitken/Archer and threatened legal action about anyone who mentions his name in connection with Smeargate.

Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP who was the target of obscene smears writes:

5 Live called to say they were being leaned on by lawyers with regard to any reference to Tom Watson MP and before I went on, would I just be aware of that.

I asked them what they wanted me to do with that information and were they saying I couldn’t talk about Tom Watson? No said the researcher, we are just under a bit of pressure here, that’s all, just be careful.

Well, Tom, sorry, but you are a prime suspect and you won't sue because you would have to reveal the contents of your email inbox.

In the end, what did for Nixon was some damning audio tape. Somewhere, despite the shredding and the emptying of inboxes, a trail leads to the desk of Tom Watson.

Watson is just about the last brick in the wall protecting Gordon Brown, so once Watson goes Brown will be toast. Watson knows this, and Brown knows this. The stakes are high. This is about who runs our country and how they run it, and the whole house of cards, in my view, depends upon the next high profile resignation.

UPDATE1:
Hat tip to Lancastrian Oik

Draper has removed his desktop computer from his home. If you have to ask why this is significant, you have been in a coma for the last 50 years.

UPDATE2:
You wont hear Watson's name much today or tomorrow- not because he is not important in the Smeargate affair, but because, like powerful bully boys of yore, he has threatened to get legal with anybody who mentions his name and like dopes the MSM has fallen over and complied.

3 comments:

Jim Baxter said...

Brown's lot, like Nixon's lot, are merely thoroughly nasty. For how to ridicule your opponents with verve and wit you need to consult the likes of Dick Tuck.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Tuck

Lancastrian Oik said...

The Watson saga- have you seen the posts on Guido's blog, copied on mine, about Draper taking his computer out of the house?

Jim Baxter said...

'If he can also demonstrate that all his Reservoir Dogs have been banished, or at the least house-trained for cleaner politics, that will be a start'.

That's Mary Riddell in the Tattiegraph today.

Nixon's youngest brother, Edward, knew better about this sort of thing and said when Haldeman and Erlichman resigned RN had lost a line of defence that kept the dogs out of the yard.

Compare what's happening now with, or rather to, this timeline:

http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?nixon_and_watergate_tmln_legal_repercussions=nixon_and_watergate_tmln_watergate_resignations_and_firings&timeline=nixon_and_watergate_tmln