So, not so much Spiral as Inspector Clouseau, then. Frenchgate turned from scandal to farce and left Labour – Miliband, Murphy, McDougall and assorted MPs – as comical as Rene and his leetle French chooms mouthing ridiculous accents in Allo Allo.
It’s the undignified haste with which Labour now pounces on anything that might, just might, nibble a corner from Nat support that makes it so embarrassing. And just when Ed has upped his personal ratings by proving not to be as gawky as the media pretend, he blows it by lathering up with cod indignation even as the story is disintegrating. Quelle tosseur.
And what a squalid wee plan it turned out to be. The French, who will be unamused at being dragged into domestic election politics, clearly implicate the Scotland Office one of whose senior officials – and there aren’t many – was told on an informal basis by the Consul General about Sturgeon’s meeting with the Ambassador. This official then wrote up a version and included the line about the FM preferring Cameron to Miliband, bizarrely since it wasn’t said or perhaps maliciously, if it was for partisan reasons.
Since the Foreign Office deny knowledge of it and if we take that at face value, it appears the Scotland Office ‘leaked’ an unofficial document purporting to be official, to the Telegraph…for what possible reason, do you imagine? Did someone go rogue? Is such a thing possible without being creased up by laughter at a Scotland Office run by a Lib Dem? Carmichael, conspicuously missing throughout, denies all knowledge, as does Fluffy Mundell, the normal source for media briefings.
Of course, we enter the realms of Sir Humphrey here as, when a stink bomb goes off in Whitehall, Priority One is to isolate a culprit and separate him from the herd and collective responsibility…so that ‘The government is not at fault’.
But there is a problem for the guilty one – this is an election when tighter rules apply and this involves a key third party, the French government. Both the electorate and a friendly neighbour will expect a proper explanation and proof of action, if not an actual defenestration.
As for the Telegraph, this is but the latest scandal in an organisation lacking in the credibility needed for a major player in public life, damned by the feebleness and cynicism of its journalism. If Simon Johnson had lived up to his media pals’ estimation as a fine pro, he would surely have sought reaction from the principal players – and found his story immediately compromised if not destroyed, and he couldn’t have that, now could he?
Yet the paper is but messenger on behalf of a government office either running a dirty tricks campaign – my own suspicion – or out of control. After the recent long list of abuses we suffered at the hands of the Great British State in the indyref, this fits perfectly the pattern of skulduggery which is its hallmark.
I suspect that a changed Scotland no longer treats this scheming against it with equanimity but regards it as yet another reason for retaliating against London government in the most decorous and yet most hurtful way – by voting SNP. It pulls together all those poisonous threads of resentment against Tories, Whitehall and Labour duplicity in one cathartic and yet democratic act. We are now the Scunnered Generation, eager to get into the polling booth to mark a cross that says: Take that, you lying bastards.
Labour, again, are a sorry sight this morning, clinging to a lie, obfuscating and wheedling in a way that is beneath even the dignity of Jim Murphy. If teetotallers ever do wake up with headaches, this is his hangover Sunday – his story and associated accusations in tatters, apologies and corrections demanded with debates looming against Sturgeon. (As well as stories in the press about his personal links to the drinks industry which he’s promoting at football grounds). Is there anything they could say you would believe? I wouldn’t trust them to run an Easter egg hunt.