Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lifting rocks

'Guido hears the same piece of gossip over and over again about a David Davis' skeleton in the closet, if true it may mean his leadership ambitions will be unfulfilled.'

Rumours of some show-stopping DD secret have been around for some time, and not just on Guido Fawkes' compulsive blog. Naturally, there are never any details. So what are we innocents abroad supposed to make of it? I've been trying to mount my own probe (another good trick if you can do it).

The first thing you realise is never mind about opening closets, once you start lifting rocks, there are all kinds of disgusting slithery things underneath. Things that make sensitive souls like us blench.

Take this piece written by Amanda Platell about how DD came to be sacked as Party Chairman in 2002:

'The reformed Portillistas - I think of them as the Slytherins, with due apologies to Harry Potter - had mounted a skillful smear campaign worthy of New Labour against Davis via secret briefings to the media. He stands accused of blocking the Portillista inclusive agenda and failing to force constituency parties to select more women, black and Asian candidates. He has been attacked for taking a holiday whose timing he cleared with Duncan Smith because the Tory leader is taking the whole of August off.

The Slytherins warned Duncan Smith that either the chairman went, or he did.

Davis is the rarest of Tory politicians - charismatic, passionate and down to earth...he is a credible champion of the public-service reform agenda and therefore a real danger to the Left. But behind his back, shadow cabinet members have been openly depicting Davis as "the ugly, uncaring face of Conservatism" in an attempt to smear him. This was in response to Davis's refusal to accept the Portillo/Maude "inclusive" agenda - strong on language, mood and style and short on principle and policy. Davis prefers to concentrate on reform of public services - not on appearance and spin.'

Yes, I know it's Amanda and she has axes of her own, but her account has a certain ring of authenticity.

Or take this account of the secret Portillista plan to nobble constituency candidate selection committees in the run-up to the 2001 Election:

'Files kept in the bowels of Central Office...contain a catalogue of complaints of dirty tricks used to ensure that Tory associations picked right-wing Eurosceptic and pro-Portillo candidates. Those considered moderate, Europhile or anti-Portillo were ruthlessly targeted.

...claims of foul play- including anonymous allegations about candidates sent to local parties in brown envelopes- were investigated.

The allegations include anoymous phone calls and letters to party officials, alleging that a candidate is corrupt or gay; claims that a candidate is involved in a scandal about to be exposed by the press...to ensure that certain candidates not on the 'pro-Portillo' list are blackballed and undermined with hostile questions and lies about their past.' (see Tory Wars, by Simon Walters, esp Ch 11)

Candidates believed to have been smeared in this way include Derek Conway and Andrew Mitchell, both now MPs, and both DD supporters.

Hmmm.

I don't know about you, but 'claims that a candidate is involved in a scandal about to be exposed' sounds sort of familiar.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
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