June 5, 2016 by Paul Goldsmith
One of the problems with tweeting on mobile phones is that you can make a slip with a tiny movement of your fingers. Trying to send a private, direct message to someone that you don’t want made public but tweeting it instead is an example of that. For a few minutes last night – the tweet above was posted by Damian McBride before he realised his mistake and deleted it. Too late, the secret is out, and what McBride is doing has some possibly quite massive political implications.
McBride started life working for the Treasury and developed a renowned expertise on VAT. He ended up as Gordon Brown’s press secretary until he had to resign having been caught allegedly planning a website to smear Tory shadow ministers.
His autobiography (which is excellent by the way and recommended reading for anyone wanting to learn about the reality of working in politics), tells the story of how he rose to prominence in the Treasury when advising Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, at the time then Chancellor Gordon Brown’s closest advisers, on the best distributional consequences (those that benefit the poor most) of cutting VAT on certain products. The answer, by the way, was pet food, but that’s not the point here. McBride has been consulted on ‘VAT-related ideas’ by the LEAVE campaign. Not just consulted, he is, from the above tweet, actively communicating ideas to them, giving Michael Gove (MG) a ‘new line’.
Nothing wrong with that, you might think. Except recently McBride has been brought back into the Labour Party fold as an adviser to Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary. This is significant, as Thornberry was picked because of her opposition to Trident (the UK’s nuclear deterrent) and will help to lead Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to stop Trident being renewed later in the year. It makes sense to bring on board such a seasoned adviser as McBride in this specific case.
More broadly, given the Corbyn camp’s problems with the press, it makes sense to have Damian McBride around to help the whole Senior Labour leadership. THIS is why his tweet is so instructive as to what is really going on at the top of the Party.
Let us not forget that Jeremy Corbyn has spent his entire life speaking out against the EU. Let us not forget that Corbyn deleted the archive of his articles from his website due to hundreds of them attacking the EU. Let us not forget the way in which Corbyn has been dragged in front of the press to give statements in ‘support’ of the EU in which he has reminded many of one of those ISIS hostages forced to give propaganda broadcasts.
Let’s not forget how much this Labour Party benefits if there is a very close vote for Remain in the referendum, or this Labour Party benefits even if there is a vote for Leave – both of which would bring down David Cameron, replacing him with someone far less electable, and opening the door for Labour to put someone in place who is far more electable (to read more of my theory about this read here).
Now we find out that the Press Advisor brought into the heart of the Labour leadership is advising the Leave campaign. A Leave campaign that this week started talking about areas in which the Government could cut VAT if we left, purposely choosing areas with the greatest distributional consequences for lower income voters.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?